We don’t have to tell you how influential leather is in your wardrobe. Just look at your shoes, handbag, belt or considering the trends your recent pencil skirt purchase. With that in mind, we thought we’d make you a leather connoisseur (or at least more knowledgable) with our quick leather guide.
Cowhide & Calfskin
Durable, flexible, more resistant to water, and comparatively cheaper than other leathers, cowhide is one of the more common leathers used in fashion. Not necessarily a luxurious item, but still worth your consideration, cowhide is an ideal option for everyday wear.
In contrast, calfskin rivals lambskin in soft feel and has greater durability than the latter. While it has a tight finish, it boasts a soft, supple texture that will increase with wear and age, as does its elasticity which is why calfskin was first used for book binding. In contrast to the more mature skin of a cow, calfskin today is considered a luxury leather that is often used for gloves and wallets among other accessories.
Known as the softest and thinnest leather, lambskin has a suppleness that could be described as buttery to the touch. More fashionable than most leathers, lambskin can pull off a more formfitting look, but is also known to stretch out and reshape over time.
Another soft and durable leather, pigskin is widely used across the board. While you are sure to find pigskin made into belts, shoes, handbags, jackets and trims, it’s the football that is most commonly associated with pigskin hence the expression, “toss the pigskin.”
While it is certainly supple and dense, pigskin can also stiffen over time and shrink.
Standing out for its insulating ability, deerskin offers more breathability than most leathers, keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool during warmer weather. Water-resistant and abrasion-resistant to an extent, deerskin is without a doubt a durable leather that will not only maintain its sharp look but also its soft, somewhat elastic feel.
Considered one of the strongest leathers and also lightweight, deerskin is used in clothing, wallets, gloves, hats and slippers.
Softer than cowhide and tougher than sheepskin, goatskin is durable and comfortable. More textured than most leathers, goatskin stands out for its waterproof qualities and is commonly used for jackets, belts and even flasks.
Immediately recognizable by its quill texture, ostrich leather epitomizes luxury. The more quills on a piece of leather, the more opulent and desirable the skin. Since the center of the hide usually possesses the most quills, small accessories such as wallets, belts and handbags are most desirable—and therefore the most expensive.
Its durability, thick feel, and supple nature also make ostrich leather one of the most luxurious types of leather.
Snakeskin, Stingray & Crocodile
Exotic skins carry their own fashionable clout.
Easily recognizable, snakeskin is very delicate, and quite popular at the moment for its versatility.
Stingray has a grainy feel and is seeing a recent rise in popularity.
Considered of great value, crocodile is also superlatively strong and durable.
Images clockwise from top: From the Hermes: Leather Forever exhibit, theAsianFashionJournal.com; OurGoods Barter: Report; Artisan at Hermes Workshop, Vogue.uk