Here, CSHEON will talk about the Types of Leather available in this market in the most easy to understand language. We’ve been receiving emails asking us ‘ Hey CSHEON, what is the difference between lambskin and calfskin leather’ or ‘How to identify real genuine exotic leather’ so many questions yet we ourselves can’t seem to find a good answer online. This article is written by our leather Artisan ‘Janey’ & hope to answer all your questions & perhaps add a little more knowledge into your pocket about leather making bags & accessories. Please leave us a comment if you have any other questions, Janey will try to asnwer! Leatherwork has been around for a long…ancient long time [ well as long as mankind has been eating meat]
Firstly, there are many types of hides / leather . From the most commonly found Calfskin (AKA Cowhide, Calf Leather, Cow Leather) & Lambskin Leather to Sting Ray Leather ( AKA Pearl Leather) , Snakeskin, Crocskin , Ostrich Skin ( common in HERMES Productions ) Buffalo Hide, Deer Hide to Fish skin leather, Pony Hair Leather and so much More. At least this few listed ones are used in making CSHEON Products & designs. Make sure these Leather are ethically sourced – Each Leather Material is 100% by ethically sourced suppliers & providers – meaning these are leather obtained from natural deaths ( Food supply chain or Natural Death) good eco sourced processing methods. This article will mainly focus on the types of Animal Hide used in leather work products & how they look like ( Distinctive Features )
01 : CALFSKIN LEATHER
A.K.A Cow Leather, Cow Hide. This is one of the most commonly used Leather Material as it is affordable, vastly available & somewhat a ‘sustainable’ option ( If you are using the Vegetable Tan Calfskin Leather ) we will talk about this a little more in depth below. Worldwide there are many ‘protein’ eaters and each ‘calfskin’ can be processed/made in bulk as the animal has a large area of skin. Techniques & processes to creating calfskin leather been improvised over the years for it the most commonly produced Leather. There are a few grades available for this type of leather.
Calfskin Leather Grades
- Top grain
- Full grain
- Split leather
- Bonded leather
FEATURES OF CALFSKIN
- Beautiful Grain Pattern
- Strong & Sustainable
- Vastly Available in all sorts of styles & colors
- Usually not as soft as Lambskin
- Semi Soft
- Available in Few Grades
- Price : Medium to High Range
01.1 | VEGETABLE TANNED CALFSKIN LEATHER
Well this should be in 01 & the reason we give this a special explanation is because of how much CSHEON team appreciates this type of leather. It is definitely not the most popular type of calfskin leather for its long tough process & mainly natural ingredients to process, not o mention the manpower. Did we mention, because of that- a higher priced type of calfskin. It is also not the most beautiful styled leather ( Well, with #CSHEON hands we did make many beautiful styles ) But arguably one of the most ‘Eco-sustainable Real leather’
As we are sourcing from Ethical Suppliers, these are hard to come by & they require a lot styling work from the Ateliers itself but its usage is vast. As this type of leather usually comes with quite a ‘raw’ look , they are great for styling. Artisans can easily dye-color-paint them & great for Hand-engraving Leather – We’ll write another post more indepth about that. Vegetable Tanned Leather is also great to create the ‘Box’ Look for its tough thick features. Quality? Superb. They last for a lifetime.
What is Vegetable Tan Calfskin?
- Usually made with Top grain / Full Grain Grade
- Eco friendly materials to process
- Takes a long time & hardwork to process as it is made with traditional methods
- The Styling is a little bit more ‘Natural’
- Can be easily dyed and engraved with pattern by hand
- Thick & Tough
- Price Range; High
Above is a unique art of hand carving / engraving leather. Usually made with Vegetable Tanned Leather.
01.2 | PRINTED / EMBOSS CALFSKIN
This type of calfskin usually comes with all sorts of styles & color as a layer is printed or heated on top of real calfskin leather. Depending on its maker & leather quality this could be one of the most easy to maintain & quality material. If made with great quality, the maintenance of this type of leather very low unlike grained leather which needs monthly to yearly conditioning & maintaining. This material could last a lifetime. Do not confused this material with PU or plastic leather though at first sight they might look similar however PU Leather tends to crack & break by its own after 6 – 18 months of constant usage, no matter how well you maintain while Emboss Calfskin could last at least 10 – 20x longer- if well mantained- a lifetime. This type of leather is designer’s favourite as they are so beautifully made & the options are endless. The style? FASHIONISTA. Exotics prints are also embossed into this type of calfskin to look like the real ‘exotic’ leather with good quality, real leather but a much lower pricing.
How To Identify Genuine Emboss Calfskin?
There should be a velvet like back – furry velvet touch on the back instead of a plastic paper touch. Though, this could only identified when the leather is in a piece as most productions will cover the back with another layer of lining.
02 | LAMBSKIN LEATHER
The Lambskin also known as Lamb Hide is also one of the most commonly found leather types in the market. It is also vastly available & its the styling is a uniquely soft & lightweight but strong material. Many designers and makers use lambskin to create that ‘soft’ leather look and this type of leather usually goes even softer with time. It is loved for its lightweight properties and as it comes it mostly quite a thin cut, it is easy to sew both by hand or machine. It also very suitable to be used as lining. ( Lining: the interior layer of the product )
It is very suitable to be made into layered style products, lining, bags, wallets, footwear and insole & commonly made into Biker Jackets.
FEATURES OF LAMBSKIN LEATHER
- Soft Grainly Styled Looks
- Much like calfskin, comes with different grades
- Could be made into Emboss Leather
- Price Range : Medium to High
03 | STING RAY LEATHER
Also known as Pearl Leather for its pearl like property. A very beautiful leather material made from Sting Ray Skin. This type of leather could be commonly found in South East Asia. It is 20x More durable than any type of leather & almost impossible to be made into products by machinery as it is too tough and the grains are irregular. Sting Ray Leather products has to be made by Hand Making Method. Usually comes in black colour though it has been processed into different colours. When touched, you can clearly feel the pearl like structure.
Sting Ray leather products are usually higher priced due to its complicated processing method & a hard labour work of Hand Sewing the leather & Usually material does not come in big piece / size therefore it will take much work to perfectly patch pieces of sting ray leather together for a bigger sized product.
- Beautiful Shinny Pearl Like Material
- 20x More Durable than Any Leather
- Hand Sewing ONLY
- Almost No Maintenance Required
- Price: High
04 | SNAKESKIN LEATHER
No doubt one of the most sought-after exotic skin leather types of all time. Comes in so many different variation and sizes. The larger the width, the harder to get. This type of leather has to be layered with other types of leather as snakeskin is almost paper thin & requires some workmanship skills to layer & sew them without crumpling the skin.
- Lots of Colors & Styles
- Beautiful Styles
- A lot more work to be done if product is made with snakeskin
- Price: High to Very High
04.1 | How to Identify Genuine / Authentic Snakeskin?
This is a very simple one. Again, it’ll be a little tougher to identify once its made into a products. These are the basic way to identify by visual & touch:
- Paper Thin Like
- No Grain / Velvet like Back
- Long Shaped and Irregular
- Feels like paper/ crepe when touched
So yes, a snake..is well long. So if comes in a perfect big square. Its a giveaway that its not. Like this image we uploaded >
05 | CROC SKIN LEATHER
One of the most ‘expensively’ beautiful material. Croc-skin is extremely rare and hard to come by as they are very strictly controlled & monetised by big corporation fashion brands.
05.1 | Types of Crocskin
- Belly Part Croc Skin ( Usually Higher Priced )
- Back Part Croc Skin ( Scally Unique Style)
Hermes uses the ‘belly’ part of the Leather for its beautiful classy look, however the back part is quite rarely used as many finds the style too ‘extreme’ but could be used stylishly when designed properly! Very strong and durable leather. Holds a long term value as well.
- Extremely Rare
- Very Durable & Tough
- Ultimate Status Symbol
- Easy to Maintain
- Price ; Very High – boom boom pow!
The ‘Back’ Part comes with scale like Style. Croc skin /aligator skin should come in this irregular natural shape. If comes in a perfectly lined huge piece of leather roll. That is not a genuine crocskin leather.
Above is the Belly part of the croc skin or aligator leather. The most expensive part and most rare.
06 | OSTRICH SKIN
Ostrich skin has a unique style & it is definitely not a common leather type. Usually leather pieces made of Ostrich Skins holds a certain value even after time. This leather is semi soft though not as soft as the Lambskin. The handling of this material is very much similar to calfskin.
- Unique Style, Easily Recognisable Leather Type
- Value For Money
- Semi Soft & Easy to Maneuverer
- Collectors Appreciate this Leather Type
- Price: High
07 | BUFFALO HIDE
Very close to calfskin leather, however Buffalo Hide is usually a little more thicker and the grain patterns are wider apart. Designers usually appreciate their Rugged look & style. They are very durable & also easy to work with. They usually have a ‘matte’ like style. Au-naturale style of the leather brings a ‘cowboy’ feel to this leather style.
- Vastly Available
- Natural Cool Style
- Strong Durable – Semi Tough
- Price : Medium to High
Buffalo Hide Passport Holder by CSHEON
08 | DEER HIDE
Close to Lambskin, a very soft leather however a little more heavier than lambskin. ( You could skive it to make it thinner ) Not so common & hard to come by. High durability than Lambskin, however that would also depend on the craftmanship of the production team. Surface feels a little more ‘velvety’ like than lambskin.
- Rare but not exactly valuable.
- Strong yet quite soft
- Slightly Velvet Like
- Price; High
09 | FISH SKIN LEATHER
Now this one, is a special one. I myself have not known that they actually make leather out of fishes. Though these are not exactly expensive but as so little people actually supplies them, it could be a hard to come by. The process is a little complicated but well people eat fishes everyday. They usually hand paint the scales with gold or silver for that unique design.
Another issue with this type of leather is the size. It comes in mini size & of course irregular shape making it almost impossible to make bigger sized products in a whole piece. Its thickness is thicker than snakeskin and probably a little tougher than snakeskin itself ( Without layering )
- Thicker than snakeskin
- Hard to Get
- Too Small
- Price Range; Cheap to Medium
10 | PONY HAIR LEATHER
Despite its name, no pony hair was cut off for this leather. It is just faux fur processed to layer on top of a Calfskin or Lambskin leather to create this style. Depending on the style the designer wants, this might be a good choice as it comes in many looks and styles for different projects.
- Might have small pieces of fur dropping off- not serious though
- Still a very durable type of leather
- Semi Tough Material
- Unique Style
- Price : Medium