Types of leather used

We have talked about how leather is processed to make shoes but what animal hides are used in the clothing and footwear industry?

Today, most leather is made of cattle skin, but many exceptions exist. Lamb and deer skin are used for soft leather in more expensive apparels. Deer and elk skin are widely used in work gloves and indoor shoes. Pigskin is used in apparel and on seats of saddles. Buffalo, goats, alligators, dogs, snakes, ostriches, kangaroos, oxen, and yaks may also be used for leather.

Kangaroo skin is used to make items which need to be strong but flexible—it is the material most commonly used in bullwhips. Kangaroo leather is favored by some motorcyclists for use in motorcycle leathers specifically because of its light weight and abrasion resistance. Kangaroo leather is also used for soccer footwear.

At different times in history, leather made from more exotic skins has been considered desirable. For this reason certain species of snakes and crocodiles have been hunted to near extinction.

In the 1970s, farming ostriches for their feathers became popular, and ostrich leather became available as a byproduct. There are different processes to produce different finishes for many applications, i.e., upholstery, footwear, automotive products, accessories and clothing. Ostrich leather is currently used by many major fashion houses such as Hermès, Prada, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. Ostrich leather has a characteristic "goose bump" look because of the large follicles from which the feathers grew.

In Thailand, sting ray leather is used in wallets and belts. Sting ray leather is tough and durable. The leather is often dyed black and covered with tiny round bumps in the natural pattern of the back ridge of an animal. These bumps are then usually dyed white to highlight the decoration. Sting ray leather is also used as grips on Japanese katana.

Generally speaking cow hide is by far and away the most popular leather used in the Northamptonshire shoe industry. However Loake shoes have often used Kangaroo in their softer style shoes and for a premium Trickers shoes will use the very hard wearing horse (cordovan)hide in their made to order shoes. Visit Bradshaw and Lloyd to view the full range from these manufacturers and Sebago shoes and Sanders shoes.

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