Last week, we had the pleasure of meeting with our rep from Edelman Leather (we love our reps! and Edelman!) She brought some amazing products to the table as well as some very useful information on leather. Leather can be very tricky. Does the client want a distressed look? A soft, buttery feel? Something that is stain-resistant? A color that will not wear throughout the years? We’ve decided to pass along some valuable insights to you and take an in-depth look at this amazing material that we can never get enough of. On this week’s Wednesdays with Wendy we’re giving you a lesson on leather with…
Image via Kyle Bunting
These two terms are probably one of the most important when it comes to leather. The word “top” confuses people who want “top” quality leather. In actuality, full grain leather is the best of the best. Full grain leather is the strongest and most durable. It comes from the most desirable part of the animal’s hide which is just below the hair. On the other hand, top grain leather will peel and crack over time. The surface of top grain leather has been buffed down to eliminate any imperfections in the hide. Consequently, taking a layer off of the hide and lessening its strength. Full grain hide is inevitably more expensive but quality comes at a price tag, right?
Image via Edelman Leather
Ahh to be tan! No, this is not placing the leather out in the sun. Tanning is the process in which animal skin transforms into leather. When it comes to tanning, let’s compare this to drying a pair of jeans. When you put a pair of jeans through the dryer, they come out softer than if you were to hang them. Jeans that are hung dry become stiff. This is the same when it comes to vegetable tanning and chrome tanning. Vegetable tanned leather = hung-dry jeans. Jeans last longer when they are hung dry, just like vegetable tanned leather. The smell is earthy and organic. This leather is generally more expensive because it will last longer and patina (desirable darkening and wear) over time. On the contrary, chrome tanned leather = putting your jeans through the dryer. A chemical process takes place, wearing down the material making it thinner and softer.
Think of the word “aniline” as the finishing process when it comes to leather. Do you prefer polished nickel, brass, black iron? In the leather world, your finish can come from a pure aniline dye or a semi-aniline dye. Pure aniline dye means the finish or color permeates through the entire hide. There is no protective element added to the top layer of the leather. Thus, the leather will distress and scratch over time. Run your fingernails through a pure aniline leather and see the unbelievable markings it leaves. Spill your coffee on an aniline leather? No big deal! The stain will give this leather character and will continue to look awesome over the next 10-20 years. Want your leather perfectly clear and free of any imperfections? Go for a semi-aniline dye. The color will stay consistent over time due to the gloss or matte finish applied to the top of the leather. This is the best wipeable, stain-free alternative.
And that concludes our Leather 101 Lesson. Class dismissed!