Types of Leather

MTR Custom Leather, LLC offers many types of leather for the products. Such as, elephant, shark skin, ostrich, and much more. Learn about the different kinds of leather by checking out these blogs under the type of leather category.

A Guide to Leather – MTR Custom Leather Blog-Discussing Calf Skin Leather Hides??

A Guide to Leather - MTR Custom Leather Blog-Discussing Calf Skin Leather Hides??There are many different types of leathers that are used on footwear these days. And many different styles to the same type of  so allow me to break down the most common options and tell you a bit about each, sharing what their plus and minuses, myths and all of the other opinions I might have on each.

Calfskin – Saying calfskin is like saying the word ‘car.’ It’s the general type of leather used to produce many of the sub types, like ‘crust’ or ‘box’ (aka , aka box ‘calfskin’ — see what I am saying?). It simply means that the leather came from calf, as opposed to a full grown cow (which in reality is the case most of the leather used in the high end shoe industry). Cow leather is simply not that great. Think about your 18 year old skin versus your 60 year old skin (no offense, but it’s a reality). That’s the difference between calfskin and cowskin.

The most common type of calfskins found in dress shoes are the following:

  1.  (below) –  is untreated (read as not dyed) leather. It is left intentionally natural in color in order to allow for a coloring process after the fact (i.e. not in the tannery, but rather by the shoe factory, a patina artist or some other 3rd party). A lot of what is on offer these days is crust calf and that is because a lot of people want a patina/aged/burnished look and doing this on Crust calf is best and easiest. Italians and the French have been the ones to really pioneer the use of Crust calf with their history of colorful shoes. Crust calf, not having been in the drum for dyeing, is usually softer than the other types of Calfskins. However, in some cases, this softness can result to heavier creasing so do beware of that. Everything comes with a trade-off. Also, because it is left untreated, it means that the leathers’ defects (scars/scratches/bites etc) are usually more prominent as they are not hidden by the dyeing process of the drums and finishing of the tanneries.
A Guide to Leather
Crust Calf
A Guide to Leather
Box calf
  • Box Calf (aniline – above) – Box calf is the most traditional and commonly used leather there is. It is simply a pre-dyed leather, like 99% of all black calf leather. Most likely any shoe that has a uniform finish is going to be made from Box calf. The English shoemakers have traditionally stuck with Box calf as they never got so much into patina and making Green/Blue/Red shoes (although this is changing 😊. Some notable tanneries producing Box calf are Weinheimer for Black calf, Du Puy and Annonay for everything else.

    Box calf will always be stiffer due to the dyeing process. And Black box calf will traditionally be the most rigid. Something about the black dye makes it harder than the rest. For creasing, well this will depend on the quality of the skin as I have seen Box calf hardly crease at all and then some that creased worse than anything else. In this department, there is no true rhyme or reason. But it is also generally thought of as being more resistant and durable with respects to its crust counterpart.

  •  (image below) – This is somewhat of a contradiction in itself but it’s common in the industry so let’s discuss it. Bookbinder/Polished/Shined calf is simply a way to take cheap leather and give it a top acrylic coating that hides all blemishes and leaves this plastic like look. It allows the shoemaker to buy cheap and sell high, tricking customers into believing that it is top quality calfskin when it is not. Italian brands have been doing this for years. Nearly all designer brands use this type of leather, quite frequently as it is a GREAT way to increase your profit margins. The lower priced welted English brands have been using this too for quite some time although I presume that their ideas for doing so might be more functional for the following reasons.

    Bookbinder is durable. Its top coating makes it nearly impenetrable. So if you live in a wet environment, then bookbinder leather can be a good option for you in order to not have your shoes so easily ruined or requiring constant upkeep. The downside is that it is extremely rigid which means it cracks easily, particularly in the vamp where the shoe creases during each step. And once it cracks, that’s it. There is no coming back from that. And it also scuffs easily and you can’t shine those scuffs out as it is in the acrylic, not the leather.

A Guide to Leather
Bookbinder – Image courtesy of Fratelli Rossetti

 –  is leather. Don’t be mistaken. It’s the underside of the hide i.e. the part that is inside the calf. For it’s long hair like textured appearance it has been loved and hated by many for years for various reasons. Let’s discuss the different types of  and the pro’s and con’s of each.

  1.  –  is simply the premium uncut suede that you typically find in the very high end, expensive shoes. You can tell that suede is full grain when it is super soft and when you rub your fingers over it, it drastically changes from light to dark depending on which way the hair is laying. The hairs of the suede will always be quite long on a . It will also have a shimmery sheen to it. It’s hard to explain but is more vibrant than the other suedes.
  2.  – Split suede is like bookbinder in a manner of speaking. They shave off the top layer of the suede, most likely as a way to hide less-premium cuts that have more noticeable blemishes were they to leave the suede uncut. Split suede is cheaper and more often than not seen as inferior. Its texture is not nearly as plush as full-grain suede and does not have as much of a contrast between light and dark when rubbing your fingers across the suede. Its hairs are naturally shorter.
A Guide to Leather
Split grain suede by J.FitzPatrick Footwear

Here are a few of my opinions on the matter of suede and the differences between full grain and split suede. Split suede is often bad mouthed but in reality most makers are using it and let me explain why. First of all, Full Grain is insanely expensive, nearly double (if not more) the cost of split suede. Of course it is nicer to feel but it is not better in terms of durability and I believe that is why it is not used as much. You don’t get double the lifespan from it and it is often more expensive than premium calfskins. It doesn’t age as well either as when those beautiful long hairs of the suede start to get worn down from wear and tear it simply does not look as nice anymore. It shows more so it’s wear and tear. Split suede on the other hand is not nearly as plush and elegant looking but it is durable and holds up well to wear and tear.

I once wore my snuff suede chukka boots (split suede) on a scooter in Paris and got caught in a hailstorm downpour. I got so wet that the shoes turned black. But when they dried, they dried just fine, evenly and the snuff went back to its original color. And that’s the beauty of split suede. When it comes from a good tannery, then its quality is still high and it wears very well. And on top of that, to be honest, it takes rain better and this myth that suede isn’t good for rain is simply garbage. Cheap suede is not good for rain. Sand suede is not good for rain. But Snuff suede and darker takes bad weather like a charm and in fact, I prefer to wear my suede on wet days than my leather. The only thing one must do is remember to steam and brush your suede once it has dried. Do that and you will forever have good suede.

A Guide to Leather
Grained Brogues by Crockett & Jones

Grain Leather – Grain leather is simply a stamped calfskin. Its look is not natural and is created by the tannery. You buy leather in different thicknesses when buying from the tannery and I want to say that Grain leather is typically a touch thicker than your traditional calfskins as it needs to be when having that texture finish to it. You tend to find grain leathers on models that are more for adverse weather as its textured finish usually hides wear and tear better than a smooth surface does. Some of the more notable grain leather is the dress shoe industry are:

  1. Pebble Grain (shown above) – This is quite the prominent grain and is often used on boots and/or shoe models like full brogues. This is the grain that really takes the weather well as its thick pebble-like finish allows for the ultimate beat up without showing too much wear and tear. The English shoemakers are quite fond of using this type of grain to combat that rainy environment and particularly for those that live in the countryside, want to dress smart and maintain a good pair of shoes. A country brogue or boot is nearly always grained.
  2. Pin Grain – Somewhat like the pebble grain in look, the pin grain is simply a much smaller design of grain, that looks like it could have been made by pin dots. For some reason, its finish is often shinier and I never knew why whereas pebble is always matte. You tend to find pin grain in the higher end shoemakers as it is more fine grain and truth be told, not so sure as to how it holds up to the adverse weather as I have never had a pair. But it’s nice for having something different than calfskin and still being able to maintain elegance through its subtle appearance.
  3. Hatch Grain (shown below) – This grain has taken the industry by storm in the last 10 years. It’s a softer grain all around and much more subtle than it’s pebble-like counterparts. Due to this softer nature, I personally find it more dressy or at least the ability to wear it with more dress attire whereas, for me, I see pebble grain as casual and hence why you often find that on boots or full brogues. But good old Hatch grain is found on all models, even smart oxfords or dressy loafers. It’s the new age grain that many customers seek but that is still somewhat rare to find as it has not fully caught on to being always on offer by all of the tanneries. The only downside is that I don’t believe this grain takes as much wear and tear as the others do.
A Guide to Leather
Shoes by Lof & Tung of Skoaktiebolaget

There are many more variants of leather used in the industry, like Cordovan and a million other types of grain, but the ones in this post make up the majority of what is found on the dress shoes of today.

Knowing the differences will help you make informed decisions about your purchases.

I hope that you have all enjoyed this post. Please share to spread the knowledge!

Justin FitzPatrickA Guide to Leather - MTR Custom Leather Blog-Discussing Calf Skin Leather Hides??

 

 

 

 

 

Source: A Guide to Leather – The Shoe Snob BlogThe Shoe Snob Blog

Stingray Skin Hologram Rainbow–MTR Custom Leather is making holsters with it!!

Stingray Skin Hologram Rainbow--MTR Custom Leather is making holsters with it!!

CHECK OUT THIS COLOR!!! ONE OF A KIND…SPECIAL EDITION…

Native to Southeast Asia

 

Stingray Skin Hologram Rainbow

WWW.MTRCUSTOMLEATHER.COM

(336) 879-2166

10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

10 Questions about Top Grain Leather10 Questions about Top Grain Leather10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather is one of the main leather grades. We have collected 10 of the most common questions about this Top Grain Leather.

1 – What is top grain leather?

Top grain leather is the second highest grade of leather. It has a uniform finish and is thinner and more workable than full grain leather, but it does not have its strength or durability.

Top_Grain_Leather_Duffle_Bag_Travel_Luggage_Sport_Bag_GLT082_7_1024x1024-1

2 – What does top grain leather look like?

The imperfections which occur naturally in full grain leather have been sanded away and the top

grain leather is imprinted with a regular imitation grain. The result is a smooth, uniformly patterned surface.

3 – Where does top grain leather come from?

There are 3 possible answers:

Where in the world does top grain leather come from?

The top six leather producing countries in the world are: China, India, Italy, Brazil, Korea and Russia. China produces 80% of the world’s leather.

Which animals are used in the production of leather?

Most leather is made from cows, because of their availability, their size and the quality of the leather. Leather can also be made from pigs, sheep, deer and horses. Small quantities of exotic leathers like a alligators, snakes, frogs and sting-rays.

>Where on the hide does top grain leather come from?

As its name suggests, top grain leather comes from the top of the hide, but several millimeters have been removed from the surface in order to eliminate imperfections.

4 – How is top grain leather made?

Several millimeters from the surface of the hide are sanded away, the leather is then buffed to create a smooth, blemish free surface.

5 – How to protect top grain leather

Top grain leather will have an aniline dye or a semi aniline dye. The leather should be nourished every three months, depending on the type of item and its usage.

Top_Grain_Leather_Duffle_Bag_Travel_Luggage_Sport_Bag_GLT082_7_1024x1024 copiaYou can also use a leather Conditioner, like the one we have in our stock, to give some more softness and care to the leather surface.

Disclaimer: You should always test any new products on a small inconspicuous area of the leather first, before applying all over, to ensure you are happy with any changes that may occur to the appearance and texture.

6 – How long will top grain leather lasts?

The life of your top grain leather will depend on the initial quality of the hide, the type of product and its usage and care. Obviously a Full grain leather will lasts longer, but top grain leather will last for a quite while too.

7 – How thick is top grain leather?

The thickness of an animal hide will depend on the type of animal. A cow hide, the most likely choice for top grain leather, is about 3/64thof an inch thick, the thickness of a coin.

8 – Can top grain leather peel?

Top grain leather which has a semi aniline dye and protective coating will peel over time.

9 – Can top grain leather be bonded?

Bonded leather is the lowest quality leather which is made by gluing scraps of leather together in the way that chipboard is made from scraps of wood. Top grain leather is not bonded, it is the top layer of the hide which has had surface imperfections removed.

10 – Common uses of top grain leather<

Top grain leather is soft and attractive and most of the common items we know are made with top grain leather.

Source: 10 Questions about Top Grain Leather

CHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman…  FAQS — MTR Custom Leather

MTR offers a wide selection of exotic leather. These leathers varies weekly. As we get in different exotic leather every week, that may not be listed below. Each exotic leather can vary in colors and what we are able to make with it. Some exotic leather only comes in small panels and can only be crafted in small items and goods. For additional questions about our exotic leather, please call (336) 879-2166 or email us at sales@mtrcustomleather.com.

CHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom LeatherCHECK out our NEW and UPDATED Exotic Leather for Holsters and Accessories-Hipo, Giraffe, Caiman...  FAQS — MTR Custom Leather

 

Source: FAQS — MTR Custom Leather

Exotic Leathers-Whats the difference?

OSTRICH

Ostrich leather is one of the finest and most durable leathers. Ostrich leather is luxurious, soft, supple, and thick featuring an exotic goose bump appearance from the large feather quill follicles.

Ostrich is a luxurious leather well know for its softness, flexibility and durability.  In spite of its softness, Ostrich leather is unsurpassed for its tactile strength.  It is, in fact one of the strongest leathers available.  Naturally occurring oils in the leather contribute to its durability, preventing cracking, even under extreme temperatures and sun exposure. Ostrich leather can be cut into very thin layers which remain strong and create lighter weight garments.

The main distinguishing feature of ostrich leather is the quill or feather socket markings. The “full quill” area of the leather is the most sought after and therefore the most expensive type of ostrich leather. “Half quill” or “semi quill” or “smooth ostrich” is not as highly valued, bearing less of the quill pattern. The quill pattern is the result of large follicles which each contained a feather.

Though ostrich is very soft, it will not stretch a great deal. For its weight, ostrich is one of the strongest leathers available. The characteristic large quill pattern comes from the back of the bird where the large feathers grow. Since each quill mark once contained a feather, there is an actual hole in the skin at each quill mark.

KANGAROO

Kangaroo leather is lightweight, strong and flexible with high abrasion resistance compared to cowhide. Kangaroo leather has the best strength/weight ratio of any upland boot leather available. Australian kangaroo leather is lighter but stronger than cowhide of equal thickness. Kangaroo is a very light-weight and thin leather that is ounce-for-ounce the toughest leather in the world.  It is very interesting to note that Kangaroo is generally much more resistant to drying out than calfskin. Kangaroo leather is lighter and stronger than the hide of a cow or goat. It has 10 times the tensile strength of cowhide and is 50% stronger than goatskin.

It has been stated that Kangaroo is the best footwear leather available. Kangaroo averages about two ounces in thickness.  The skins are very supple, will flex readily, but will not stretch much because the fiber structure is very fine, concentrated, and tight. These leathers are normally dry, they contain few oils. Expect the vamps to be well matched; there will be slight color variation on the analine finished hides. Since the skin are glazed and plated, there is virtually no distinguished grain. Almost all kangaroo has scars. Expect to find some in your boots~this is your assurance of the real thing.

ELEPHANT

Elephant is a very strong leather. It resists cracking and tearing because of the relatively long fiber structure under the grain. Because the fibers are open, the leather is somewhat soft and breathes well. Liquids will penetrate very easily from the flesh side but since elephant is between 3 to 5 ounces thick, a good deal of perspiration will be dispersed by it.

Elephant is an exotic leather that is thick and very durable with a course, rippled texture.  Elephant and Hippo leather have as much grain, texture and toughness as you would expect but are surprisingly comfortable wearing.

 

ALLIGATOR • CROCODILE

CAIMAN

Crocodile and alligator skin renders a very attractive and fashionable leather. The leather is strong, supple, durable and very expensive. A bony layer within the skin adds a protective shield, while a dimple on each scale makes a very exotic look. Alligator and crocodile will not stretch very much. The scales are hard, some have a bony material on the back of them, and will not stretch or flex. Most all stretch or flex takes place between the scales and places most all stress on the underlying membrane.

AMERICAN ALLIGATOR: Hailing from the Southeast USA and frequently harvested from farm-bred gators as well as from wild animals, American alligator skin is a classic, durable and versatile leather.  The American alligator’s hide is the soft and more pliable material. This is because the skin of this reptile is less bony than the skin of crocodiles. This softness makes the alligator’s skin easier to work with than the skin of other reptiles, making it easier to work with for cutting, stitching and folding.

CAIMAN CROCODILE: Caiman crocodiles are also used in the fashion industry by many. Hailing from South America and Central America, the caiman crocodile’s skin is taken only from farms. While caimans might be cousins to the American alligator, the hides of the two animals are worlds apart. Caiman hides tend to be stiffer than alligator hides. This is because the Caiman has distinctive calcium rivets in the center of each scale. These calcium deposits also give the caiman’s scales a patterned effect that is not seen in alligator hides, one that may even persist through the dyeing process.

SHARKSKIN

Shark skin, one tanned, has a very high resistance to abrasion. Shark also has one of the longest fiber structures of any leather which gives the leather a strong tensile strength. The grain is very well defined, but will be smoother depending upon the size, species, and area of the skin that is cut. The leather will tend to be boardy, however, since it is vegetable tanned. This leather is very dry. Shark will not stretch much. The finish is usually a hard finish that will not withstand the abrasion or flex that the leather itself will. Certain part of the skins are more brittle than others; for example, the chin is not cut into the vamps because it cracks more readily than the sides or belly. The grain should always match in linear grain direction and color, grain character will be close.

SNAKESKIN:
PYTHON • RATTLESNAKE

Snakeskin is typically produced from venomous sea snakes which are commercially farmed. The leather is delicate, thin, soft and flexible, while the fine small hexagon scales produce exotic detailed grains.

Snakeskins are very desirable for boots because of the unique grain, scales, and color patterns. Snakes are skinned in two ways, cut down the belly scales leaving the small scales in the center, “belly” or “front” cut python, and cut down the back leaving the wide belly scale in the center, called “back” cut python. The scales were the snakes protection from the elements and are essentially like a callous, dead skin. The size of the scale will vary depending upon the area of the skin cut and the age of the snake.  The scales have a “lip” open toward the tail will grab and aid the snake in crawling. This lip is your assurance that the snake is genuine. Snakeskin is very dry after tanning, especially the glazed skins. The solid colored skins have been bleached to remove the natural color pattern. They are then drum dyed so the ·color penetrate’ the skin and does not lie on the surface, analine finish.

Source: Exotic Leathers

Different Types of Leather

bull hide leather cowhide leather horsehide leather a-8c_00 elephant rig.jpg 2

Types of Leather

The major difference between all types of the leather is there density, thickness and texture.

Cow Hide-least dense, less scaring (full grain leather products will likely show some minor markings)

Bull Hide- increased density (when dye compares to horse hide)

Why does bull hide have more density than cow hide?

Good question. Bull hide also known as steer hide (old cow) that has been compressed between high pressure chrome or stainless rollers to compress and increase density. The back of the bull hide is pasted to retain the density as well.

The process as which it takes to receive the density of the bull hide is similar to that of the horse hide.

Horse hide is slightly denser than the bull hide. A horse hide may be more repellant to moisture than that of the bull hide and cow hide. When comparing a horse hide belt to a bull hide belt the horse hide may be slightly thinner (1-4oz). However, horse hide may be shiner when dyed compared to the bull hide due to horse is more oiler.

Exotic leather like elephant, caiman, sting ray and shark are great durable leathers. There texture is much more define than the others leathers. Exotic leather is a dense material is also helps with the resistance of moisture. Seasonal changes, fashion trends and price of meat (by product) can affect the production of exotic leather.

All the different leathers can be assembled to be part of a high quality gun belt.

How to choose which leather is best?

The major factor in choosing which leather is your own personal preference.

Check out our Color Chart

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