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Properties of Leather

Why Use Leather? Characteristics & Properties of Leather

Everyone has heard of leather. Many people have even heard that it is one of the best materials when you’re looking for new furniture, a new jacket, new shoes, new women's wallets, duffle bags, and countless other items. However, not everyone understands just what makes leather such an incredible material. Let’s explore the properties of leather to help you understand what is so special about this material and why you may want to start choosing leather goods over those made with other materials.

Leather Duffle Bag
Leather Duffle Bag
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What is leather?

Leather is a material that is crafted using tanned animal hides. While most people think of cow hides when they think of leather, it can actually be made using the skin of any animal. In addition to cows, some of the other animal hides that may be used to make leather cloth include pigs, sheep, goats, horses, alligators, deer, elks, kangaroos, and bears.

As you may guess, the type of animal hide that is used to make the leather will impact the specific properties of it. For example, cow leather made using young cows, or calves, is thinner and softer than leather made from bulls, or un-castrated male cattle. Soft leather, from calves, sheep skin, or young goat skin, is ideal for making wallets, belts, and clothing. You can also use sheep leather and other softer leathers for shoes and boots.

Types of Leather

There are several types of leather fabric. Understanding the differences between the different types and grades can help you better understand the properties of leather.

Full Grain

When you’re looking for the best of the best when it comes to leather, you will want to choose full grain leather. Full grain layer is made using the entire grain layer (outer layer) of an animal hide. This means that full grain leathers are more durable than other types of leather. It is also one of the most attractive types of leather, as it maintains the natural imperfections of the animal’s hide.

Top Grain

Top grain leather is the second-highest quality leather. Like full grain leather, top grain leather is made using the outer layer of the hide. However, to create a more uniform appearance, the upper portion of the grain is buffed away. This makes it slightly less durable than full grain and removes some of the natural imperfections that can give full grain leather a truly unique look. Nubuck leather is a special type of top grain leather. It is buffed on the outer side of the hide, which makes very smooth.

Split Grain

The process of removing the full and top grain layers of an animal’s hide leaves behind a leftover layer. Because the process is referred to as splitting, this layer of leather is called split grain leather. Split leather can be used to make suede, corrected leather, and other types of leather.

Lower-Grade Leathers

There are some other lower grade fabric leather options. However, all of these pale in comparison to full or top grain leather as they aren’t truly 100% leather or don’t even contain any leather at all.

For example, genuine leather is a term used to describe a material made using leftover leather scraps and plastic. Its durability and appearance pales in comparison to that of full grain or top grain leather. Other lower grade leathers include bonded leather and reconstituted leather.

Cuts of Leather

Beyond the different types of leather, there are also various cuts of leather.

These include:

  • Whole leather cut
  • Side leather cut
  • Shoulder leather cut
  • Bend leather cut
  • Double bend leather cut
  • Butt leather cut
  • Double butt leather cut
  • Belly leather cut
  • Double belly leather cut

Leather Properties

In the next few sections, you can learn more about the different leather characteristics. These leather qualities are what sets leather apart from other materials and makes it a top choice for so many different applications—from apparel to upholstery and everything in between.


One of the best things about leather is how highly durable it is. Full and top grain leather, in particular, feature very compact, dense fibers. This makes the leather abrasion resistant and helps keep it from cracking or tearing.


Another one of the top qualities of leather is that it is breathable. This means that the leather lets air and water vapor flow through its fiber. Breathability is particularly important when you are looking for clothing or shoes. You’ll be much more comfortable with a breathable fabric than one that doesn’t let any airflow.

leather properties


Leather makes an excellent insulator. This is another one of the top characteristics of leather and is why the material is a popular choice for those looking for a jacket or coat. The fabric slows or stops heat from passing through, keeping individuals warm and comfortable on a cold day.

Water Resistance

Being water resistant is another one of the many impressive leather properties. Unlike many other materials, leather is able to either absorb or resist water. Once the leather dries, it will still maintain its flexibility and elasticity. Patent leather, which is leather that has a special coating giving it a high-gloss finish, is nearly waterproof.

Ease of Molding and Reshaping

The leather fiber is also able to be formed into any shape the crafter desires. Leather manufacturers apply heat to shape leather into one of the many goods you’ve seen in store or online.

Leather: A Worthwhile Investment

Now that you’ve learned more about leather and how durable, long-lasting, gorgeous, and functional it is, are you ready to add more leather pieces to your collection, or even purchase your first? Choosing a high-quality full grain leather good (like a leather portfolio) may require a bit of an upfront investment, but we’re confident that you’ll be pleased with your purchase. Plus, since leather lasts so long, you’ll likely end up saving money in the long run!

Leather Portfolio
Leather Portfolio
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What is the property of material of leather?

Leather, made from cattle hides or the hides of other animals such as pigs, goats, sheep, and alligators, offers several benefits. These include being highly durable, very insulating, breathable and comfortable, resistant against water, and flexible, and moldable.

Why is leather such a good material?

Leather, particularly full grain leather and top grain leather, is an incredible material. In addition to being beautiful, it is very durable and long-lasting. Leather is also very insulating, yet breathable, making it the ideal material for a comfortable jacket. Moreover, the leather surface is able to resist absorbing water, making it a good choice when crafting leather messenger bags, furniture, or shoes.

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