In the broadest sense, leather refers to a material created by tanning an animal hide. Characterized by both the type of animal skin used and the tanning or manufacturing method, we are left with many options. Here at Mood we strive to source quality leathers that are not only durable but more importantly, unparalleled. With so many applications for leather including clothing, footwear, luggage, bookbinding or even a drum, a little direction can go a long way in your selection process.
Types of Leather:
Cow or Cattle Leather- One of the most widely used leathers as well as the most durable for daily rugged use. Perfect for heavy-duty motorcycle jackets or even a full body suit often referred to as your leathers by motorcycle enthusiasts, cow leather is one of the thickest hides. Due to the thickness of cowhides, this is the ideal weight for shoes, upholstery, and other items that require stiff leather. Naturally dirt and water resistant, cow leather is easy to care for.
Crocodile Leather- Renders some of the most attractive and fashionable accessories as it is strong and durable, yet supple. A bony layer down the spine creates a protective shield completed by a dimple on either side giving an incredibly exotic look to this skin. Create textured belts with the spine detail or a sleek pair of driving shoes from the vast expanse of hide.
Deerskin Leather- One of the thinnest large game leathers and posses an affinity for breathability. Characteristically smooth and supple, dear skin is ranked as the third strongest leather on the market allowing you to create durable wares that will last a number of years if properly cared for. With such a soft texture, work gloves, moccasins and satchels are often made of this material as it often begins to form to the wearer. Relatively easy to care for, cornstarch of baby powder can be used to remove grease or oil, take care as to not work the stain further into the hide, but rather brush the excess grease or oil that has been adsorbed by the powder. Note: Deerskin is the only leather that can get wet and still dry soft.
Goatskin Leather- Heavier than a lamb leather and generally better suited for more strenuous wear. Golf gloves are often made of this material, as it is abrasion resistant and rather durable. Goatskin leather is often stretched into parchment in order to create and conserve quality pages for record keeping books. Goatskin in particular, generally features a natural unusual grain reminiscent of an old world charm. Goatskin is easily split and shaved to create leather that is perfect as a summer weight and easily manipulated into a close fit.
Lambskin Leather- Lamb is soft, buttery and lightweight, making it easily formed to the body. Considering how thin it is, lambskin remains extremely insulative and protective in colder climates in addition to standing up in negative temperatures better than any synthetic fiber. Lambskin is easily worn in, making it the best option for a second skin. Considered the most delicate of leathers, lambskin garments should be stored in a way that they are not hung to stretch.
Lizard Leather- Recognized for its distinct pattern and texture, lizard leather has become highly sought after for shoes, handbags, belts and wallets among other accessories. The minute grainy scales of a lizard add to the allure of this rare leather since it is only available in small hides. The scaly nature of this skin makes it stiffer and a great option for belts and watch straps.
Pig Leather- Known for its deep hair follicle pattern, which consists of small pores roughly grouped together in sets of three. Typically dense and tough, this type of leather is similar to cowhide in that it is longwearing when properly cared for. Due to the aforementioned qualities, pigskin has become a popular choice for fashion garments, boots, and even equestrian applications. With a high lanolin content, pigskin remains naturally water resistant and supple after dampening.
Leathers can be finished in a variety of ways whether they are stamped, laminated, coated, waxed, embossed or painted. Each imparts a novelty pattern to the leather that adds character and consistency to the face of the hide. When left natural, many hides will display slight imperfections that are easily noticeable, so with the addition of a finish this can be corrected or improved.
Crackled- After receiving an initial coat of paint, a thin compound is brushed on causing the paint to produce a crackled effect.
Dyed- Many leathers are only surface dyed, however others require completely penetrated dyeings. Leather is also easily surface stained, dip dyed and washed.
Embossed- A raised pattern is pressed into the leather, this can be done by machine as well as by hand with metal tooling. Reptilian and floral prints are often embossed onto different types of leather.
Laminated- A composite of two or more layers of leather, or a layer of leather and one or more layers of another sheet of film. The laminate accounts for greater than 30% of the leathers overall thickness, often ensuring that it is water repellant.
Metallic- This is a foil coating that is pressed into the leather, typical colors include variations of gold, silver, pewter and bronze.
Nappa- Refers to a particularly soft, chrome tanned, smooth leather from different types of animal skins. Consisting of full-grain leather and processed with the utmost attention, nappa leather is of the highest quality.
Nubuck- Cowhide leather that has been rubbed on the outer side of the hide to give it the feel similar to suede.
Printed- Similar to fashion fabrics, leathers can be printed on in a variety of ways including digital textile printing, roller printing, screen-printing or stencil printing. Special dyestuffs are used as they are specific to leathers.
Stretch Leather- Incredibly thin and comfortable , this leather has been bonded to a stretched piece of lycra allowing a garment to retain its shape through repeated wear. The look of leather with the benefit of lycra, the amount of stretch will vary due to composition.
Suede- Refers to leather that has ben brushed and rubbed to make a velvety nap.
As leather is a thicker material than most fashion fabrics, specific tools are needed to properly work with it. Many every day tools and notions are used to sew leather, however each utensil is made of a sturdier construction to easily cut and sew through hides. An awl is one of the most prominent leather working tools as it is used to puncture through multiple thicknesses of leather in order to then sew the project with a leather needle and extra strong or upholstery thread. Rather than cutting leather with a pair of scissors, a rotary cutter and cutting mat are often used for neat edges and accurate cuts.