The most important types of leather and terms
Old pit tannery
Special type of pit tanning for highly durable, grainy leathers, especially sole leathers. The leather matures in the “tan” of vegetable tanning agents, e.g. from oak or spruce, over a particularly long tanning period of twelve months or more.
Traditional term for dyed-through, high-quality leather. Aniline, formerly obtained from tar, has not been used for leather dyes for decades.
A smooth leather, the appearance of which has been visually designed to look old by dyeing, printing or spraying. Found primarily in clothing, furniture or leather goods.
Leather or split leather with a surface coating applied to the outside that is more than 0.15 mm thick, but does not exceed one-third of the total thickness of the material (see also designation specifications).
Strong cowhide for rustic leather goods or self-supporting pieces of furniture such as chair or armchair coverings. It is always vegetable tanned.
Fine firm smooth calf leather for shoes and leather goods.
A grain or split leather, vegetable- or combination-tanned and particularly resistant to perspiration. Located in the shoe between the top insole and the outsole.
Very thin and supple, smooth leather for the inner sole of a shoe.
General term for a tanned animal skin with hairs. In leather terminology, hide also refers to the skin of smaller animals such as sheep and goats.
Washing or window leather
(see Chamois leather)
Collective term for thin, flexible smooth or split leather, especially for shoes.
Harness leather/saddle leather
A strong yet supple cowhide used to make horse harnesses, bridles and saddles.
Soft, supple leather, usually goatskin, used to make gloves and clothing.
Generic term for all types of leather with the natural surface of the hide (see grain split). Its texture can be smooth, grained, embossed or shrunk. The most important types of smooth leather are:
A very soft, non-slip, smooth leather that can be used for almost all purposes.
Aniline leather (nappa leather, natural)
A dyed-through leather, the natural pore structure (grain pattern) of which is clearly and completely visible. It may have a transparent, non-pigmented surface coating.
Semi-aniline leather (nappa leather, lightly pigmented)
An aniline leather that also has a lightly pigmented surface coating, without obscuring the natural pore structure (grain pattern).
Pigmented leather (nappa leather, pigmented)
Leather, the pore structure of which is covered by a pigmented surface coating of less than 0.15 mm.
A full-grain leather, the surface of which is given an attractive honeycomb-like appearance by a special tanning process.
Hydrophobic leather/impregnated leather
Water- and dirt-repellent leather (especially shoe leather) that is given these special properties during the tanning process.
Softly tanned cowhide for leather goods.
High-gloss, coated leather with a mirror-like surface. Mainly used for shoes and leather goods, and also clothing.
General and defined term for tanned hides and skins, the original fibre structure of which has been preserved and made permanently durable by the tanning process. For leather with a surface coating of more than 0.15 mm, reference must be made to the coating (see also Designation regulations).
(see Smooth leather)
Special type of fur velour in which the fur is on the inner side. The outer suede side is coated and smooth. A type of leather that is primarily made into clothing.
Grain leather/grain split
The upper part – the hair side – of a split hide.
(see Suede leather)
Designation of the leather for the outer shoe uppers, the shoe upper.
Transparent, translucent skin with a smooth surface for documents, book bindings or musical instruments. It is produced without tanning, by drying out a hide.
Collective term for a variety of leathers without a smooth surface.
A soft leather with a good grip, which is still traditionally tanned with blubber oil/train or fish oil, mainly used as window or cleaning leather. It is the preferred leather for making traditional costume clothing from genuine wild skins.
(see Smooth leather)
Leather made from the lower layer of a split hide. Without grain structure. The surface can be roughened, smooth or embossed. A distinction is made on the basis of the surface treatment:
Dyed split leather with a roughened surface.
Covered split leather
A type of leather that is given a smooth surface by coating it, and which may also be embossed.
(see Suede leather/rough leather)
(see Hydrophobic leather)
Leather, the grain of which is completely preserved and not mechanically corrected.
Very supple, velvety leather made from genuine wild skins. In common parlance, often a misnomer for various rough leathers such as suede or nubuck. It is frequently used for country fashion articles (traditional costumes).
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