Leather: Everything You Need to Know About


Have you ever wonder about how these leather products such as bags, jackets, belts, and purses are made? Who makes them? From where does all this leather business started? and How big this leather industry is? 

Today we will investigate the leather industry and find out the most interesting facts about leather that you are unaware of till now. 

We will start out an investigation to know what exactly leather is, and then we will go further to know from where does it come and how it is processed for making some of the most luxurious products of all time.

Later in this article will take you through the laws and regulations imposed by the Indian government on leather industries. 

You might have many doubts about leather which you want to ask, don't worry we added on FAQs section to clarify all your doubts about leather.

Are you Excited? Let's begin.

What is leather?

Leather is animal skin and hides which are obtained from tanning and chemical treatments. Leather is derived commonly from cattle, sheep, goats, reptiles, and aquatic animals such as alligators and seals.

Its strength, flexibility, and durability make it a perfect material for manufacturing luxurious products for elite classes in developing and developed nations. 

At present Italy is the biggest consumer of leather produced in the world with its competitors China and Vietnam being the biggest exporter of leathers.

Types of leather:

Leather is found in varieties and each variety is different from another. Below is the table which shows the different varieties of leather that are used by industries to produce leather products.

Leather can be classified on the basis of :
  • Its Source
  • Surface Grain
  • Tanning
  • Finish

1. According to Source, leather is obtained from these sources:

Classification by Source
Cattle Hide Goat Skins Sheep Skins
Mule Pig Skins Deer Skin
Bison Skin Ostrich leather Kangaroo Leather
Eel Skin Crocodile Horse
Snake Skin Seal Skin Shark Skin
Lizard Walrus Shagreen
Yak Whale etc.

2. According to Surface Grain, leather is classified as follows:

  • Full-Grain: Hides that have not been sanded, buffed, or snuffed to remove imperfections on the surface of the hide.
  • Top Grain: Its surface has been sanded and a finish coat is added, which produces a soft plastic feel with less breathability. These are cheap and have a greater stain resistance compare to full-grain leather. Top grain leather wallets for men are among popular products made with top grain leather.
Top grain leather
  • Corrected Grain: Any leather on which artificial grains are applied to its surface.
corrected grain leather
  • Split: Split leather is created from the fibrous part of the hide which is left over after taking off the top hide.
Split Leather
  • Suede: This is the leather from which your purses, jackets,  Wallets, shoes, and furniture coverings are made. Suede leather is made with the underskin of animals.
suede leather
  • Nubuck: Nubuck leather is made from the top side ( grain side) of leather. It is sanded and dyed after tanning to make it look ultra suede, though it is fundamentally different from suede leather but is treated in the same way.
Nubuck Leather

3. According to Tanning:

Tanning is the process by which hides or skin of animals is processed to convert them into leather. The place where tanning of hides and skins is done is called tannery.

According to tanning leather is classified as:

Classification on Tanning
Chrome tanned Vegetable-tanned
Alum tanned Aldehyde tanned
Synthetic tanned Formaldehyde tanned
Brain tanned Oil-tanned
Rose tanned Fur tanned
Raw tanned

4. According to Surface finish:

According to surface finish, leather is classified as follows:

  • Aniline: Aniline is a dye with transparent ( translucent) quality, that is helpful in making wrinkles of the leather appear even after dying. It gives a structure look to the leather.
aniline leather
  • Semi-aniline: Soft and thin, its surface can be felt and it is highly sensitive to light along with having good resistance capabilities this leather has a luxurious look.
Semi Aniline Leather
  • Pu coated: In this leather, the grain side is coated with chemicals such as polyurethane. This gives a consistent surface to the leather and makes it a much cheaper option to buy. The coating makes the leather much flexible than genuine leather.
Pu coated leather

  • Pigmented: The coating on pigmented leather is done more than Pu coated leather to make the color look more even with more durability. It is called pigmented because the outside face of the hide is coated with a pigmented resin and then a subsequent coating for its durability.
pigmented leather

  • Patent: Patent leather has its own history for now we will concentrate on its core values. It is nothing but a coated leather with a glossy and shiny finish. In history, the coating was done with an oil-based solution but in the modern age, it is done with plastic coating.
Patent leather

5. Other types of Leather:

Along with this, there are some other kinds of leather also available these are:

  • Kid Leather
  • Napa Leather
  • Chamois Leather
  • Glazed
  • Embossed
  • Butt Leather
  • Bonded Leather
  • Bycast Leather
  • Russia Leather
To know more about leather you can visit Slideshare KUET Presentation on leather types.

Uses of leather in our daily life:

Leather is used in almost all the places in our daily life. We wear it as a garment, make seat covers for our cars, as a sofa cover at home, like boots and hats, and many more. Some of the items made with later are listed below:

Leather as Body Items
Shoes Men/Women Belts Garments
Leather Jackets Bracelets Hats
Men/Women Boots Gloves Sandals, etc

Goods Containers
Wallets Phone holders Spectacle case
Laptop bag Purses Card Holder
Briefcase Portfolio Holder Keyholder

Leather for Home and office
Sofa set Footrest chair cushion
Armrest Mats Furniture for pets
Leather couch Decorative piece Bed's Head sidewall

Other items made of leather
Drums Skins Praying Mats
Amulets wall handings Boots
Sports Ball Sports gear college/traveling Bags

Leather Industries in India:

India fulfills the demand of 12.93% of the world's leather production of hides and skins. The total Export of leather from India is around 5 Billion dollars in 2019-2020 and rising. 

For the promotion of the export of leather products, there is a setup of a non-profit organization that has a membership base of more than 3500 companies.

Some companies deals in manufacturing leather products and some only process hides and skins to export them to foreign countries

Top 10 Leather manufacturing companies in India:

Here is the list of the top 10 leather manufactures in India. You must be aware of some of the brands but many of them are working in the export business and only deal in raw materials for big brands. 

Top 10 leather Manufacturers (India)
Bata India
Bhartiya International Ltd
Farida Group
Lakhani Armaan Group
Liberty Shoes Ltd
Mayur Uniquoters Ltd
Metro Brands Ltd
Mirza International Ltd (Red Tape)
Relaxo Footwears Ltd
Superhouse Ltd

How to check if the leather is real or fake?

In earlier days it was easy to check by simply smelling the leather if it is fake or real. But nowadays it has become more complicated to distinguish, between real and fake leather by simply smelling its unique odor. 

If you are thinking of doing a stretch test on leather then you might be wrong. Companies are making materials that have exactly the same quality as genuine leather except for its long life.

Another option is to check for the tag which says 100% genuine leather, but this can also be faked by companies. So the last option that remains is to have trust in the brand.

If you know someone who has already bought leather products a few years back and still using that leather product, then you must consider asking him for more details about the seller/company.

We have reviewed some of the leather brands and their products that are selling their leather goods online. You can read those articles here:
Life of Leather:
Depending upon the quality of leather the products made from leather can last anywhere from 3 years to 10 years. If the leather is made of low-quality genuine leather then it lasts for 3 years approx. But if the leather is made of Top grain or full-grain leather then it may last for more than 10 years.

Advantages of leather over its counterpart:

You may wonder, that if duplicate leather is so perfectly copied and are available in high quality then why should we go for genuine leather.

If you think that copied leather are of equal quality then genuine leather, then you must consider these advantages of leather:

Durability: Leather is ultra-durable, its fibers are so fine and intertwined that one gram of leather contains more than 300 sq. meters of the interior surface.

Breathability: Leather can observe moisture and expel them as vapour, this quality can never be found in any artificial leather. In leather boots, you sweat far lesser than synthetic boots.

Flexibility: Leather is flexible material it can be hard and soft at the same time. It can be stretched but that doesn't impact its strength.

Style & Status: In many places leather is used to reflect the rich lifestyle. It adds a different but stylish look to the personality.

Disadvantages of leather 

Though leather is used as a status symbol and style, it comes with certain disadvantages. These disadvantages may not be disadvantages for some but are certainly a fact based on people's experience.

Here are some of the disadvantages so leather:

Price: Though leather is ultradurable which makes it worthy of high price but nowadays there are many materials that are ultra-durable but comes at a lower price than leather.

Difficult to care: Leather needs extraordinary care when it is not in use, u need to protect it from ants and make sure to check it regularly for any fungus issues.

Fakes: There are many brands that sell genuine leather along with fake leather at the same store. You can tell the difference by doing 2-3 tests on these leather products.

Not eco-friendly: You will read at many places that leather is an eco-friendly product but you may get surprised to know the truth behind it. Read the environmental hazards caused by leather below.

Leather's impact on Environment:

According to PETA's article on Leather's impact on the environment, the leather industry causing severe damage to our environment and the irony is that they describe their products as eco-friendly.

Turning skin and hides into leather requires a huge amount of energy wastage and harmful chemicals. Most of the leather produced in western countries is chrome-tanned which is hazardous to the environment.

Each day tannery releases a huge amount of wastes that include harmful substances such as lime sludge, salt acids, and sulfides. People working in those tanneries were found suffering from cancers due to exposure to harmful toxic chemicals. Read the complete article on the PETA site. ( Source: PETA)
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