Beginner's Guide To Types Of Leather

Understand the types of leather and learn how to care for your leatherware

As early as 2200 BC, leather has always been a prized material used for footwear, clothes, accessories and tools due to its durability and natural insulating properties. Fast forward to today, leather is a highly sought-after material, utilised in many luxurious accessories such as bags and shoes crafted by major fashion houses.

Genuine leather is made from animal hides and there are variations in material properties such as durability, look and feel. As such, there is much for craftsmen to consider to ensure that the final product is long-lasting and aesthetically attractive. Here's a quick guide to commonly used leather types and their various characteristics.


Sturdy and Durable

The most common and abundant variant, cowhide is widely available and considered one of the most durable and desirable leather. It is sturdy, dirt and water-resistant, making it a choice material to craft protective apparel and tools. As it is much heavier than other leathers, cowhide is often stiffer and can maintain its structure and form better than other variants. As such, it is a popular option for the construction of bags, boots and footwear.


Soft and Malleable

As its name suggests, lambskin is a type of leather derived from the hide of young sheep. It is soft and delicate with a supple texture. The treatment of lambskin needs to be ultra-careful and gentle in order not to damage it. Hence this material is often more expensive and typically used in luxurious premium products such as purses, gloves or even shoes. The soft and malleable properties make lambskin a perfect choice for foldable shoes. With its silky texture, shoes crafted from lambskin are soft and comfortable to wear for long hours.

Suede Leather

Understated Elegance

Suede leather is a type of leather made from the underskin of the animal, giving it a cosy and soft texture. It is also generally soft, thin and pliable, perfect for delicate items like gloves and jackets. Compared to other leather, suede is also much lighter, making it a great choice for footwear products such as boots, mules and loafers. The velvety texture also gives suede leather products a cosy and elegant appearance while maintaining durability and comfort. Dark coloured suede products give off an effortlessly cool and mysterious vibe, while suede leatherware of natural and light-coloured hues feels young and trendy.

Patent Leather

Classy with Glossy Finishing

Patent leather is a type of leather coated with high-gloss finishing. The surface is generally water-resistant and perfect for crafting luxurious or formal leather goods such as shoes, handbags and belts. It also creates products with a sleek sheen, thus popular with edgy fashion designers. However, patent leather is less durable as its surface prone to scratches and colour transfer. Hence, requiring more attention and care to maintain the shelf life of items crafted from this leather type.

Leather Care

Making Leather Last Longer

As your leatherware generally costs more due to its scarcity and elaborated treatment processes, you will want to make sure they last longer. Try cleaning your leatherware with a soft and dry cloth to get rid of excess dirt and oil. For leather with a glossy surface, use a gentle detergent and damp cloth instead. To prevent the leather from cracking and drying out, you can also rub some leather conditioner into your leather products.

It is also imperative to store your leather goods in a well-ventilated space, away from heat which may cause unsightly cracks. Lastly, avoid getting your leather items wet as too much moisture will cause mould to grow. If you get caught in the rain unexpectedly, try removing the water with an absorbent cloth or airing it naturally without exposing it to direct heat or sunlight.

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