Types of Leather

October 24, 2020 4 min read

leather hide

Leather is a material used for clothing since ancient times. Leather is sourced from a wide range of animals such as sheep, deer, cows, horses, and kangaroos. More exotic leathers are sourced from ostriches, alligators, snakes, frogs, and many varieties of fishes.

Each type of leather will have its distinctive quality and texture. Other than the factors such as conditions in which the animal lived: diet, nutrition and climate, or diseases, other factors that affect the quality of the leather are tanning chemicals and the dyes and stains.

Our helpful guide will help you get a better understanding of the variations of leather, so that your search for your favorite jacket may be an aviator jacket, a leather bomber jacket, or any other style becomes easy.

Types of Leather

Usually, cowhide, bison, deerskin, goatskin, lambskin, and calfskin are the most commonly used leathers. Let's go through the distinctive characteristics possessed by each one.


Cowhide is the most water-repellent type of leather available and used largely. It is strong, thick, and durable. It is water as well as dirt-resistant hence offers excellent protection against the harshness of weather.


Just like cowhide, bison leather is also strong, durable, and excellent material for jackets and other protective gear. Dissimilar to cowhide, bison has a unique pebbled grain texture that gives it a rugged beauty to any leather jacket. It is mainly chosen for its unique look and strength.


Deerskin provides the strength and longevity of cowhide long with a softer, lighter feel. Owing to its elegance and smoothness, deerskin is used not only used to craft women's and men's leather jackets, but also in handbags and gloves. It is a type of leather extremely comfortable. 


Goatskin is softer and lighter than cowhide and also very durable. Similar to deerskin, goatskin is smooth, elegant. It also has a unique pebble grain texture. 


Lambskin is lightweight and extremely smooth leather, lambskin is much thinner than cowhide and other leathers, and it offers a charming drape. Many of the finest mens leather jackets, shoes, and high-end furnishings are crafted using lambskin. 


Calfskin combines the strength and durability provided by cowhide with the softness, lightweight of lambskin. It is usually thicker and heavier than lambskin, also supple and smooth, being functional and fashionable. 

Besides the above, the leather also can be classified based on the layer of skin that is used

The uppermost surface of the hide is the side from which the hair has been taken off. The inner layer is the place the hide that is actually in contact with the flesh.


Full Grain Leather is the uppermost layer of the hide. It is treated using aniline dyes which have the capability of being dissolved and do not hide the natural surface of the hide. Sometimes a semi-aniline dye is used which gives the leather a thin topcoat that serves as protection and averts staining. Owing to the vertical fibers present on this part it the strongest and most lasting part of the hide. It will help save it from cracking or peeling, tearing or puncturing. It has a tight grain pattern and this makes it resistant to moisture. Full-Grain leather has a distinctive appearance that augments its charm. It has its markings and irregularities such as scars resulting from brushing against something sharp, insect bites, brand marks, or wrinkles are all intact. The beauty of Full Grain Leather elevates with aging, developing a rich patina with passing time. It is the only type of leather which ages beautifully. 

Top Grain Leather

Though it may sound so but it is not the top layer of the hide but the second layer. Top grain leather is the surface of the leather that has been removed by sanding and buffing to eliminate the imperfections. The leather has a more unvaried appearance. Top Grain leather is the widely used leather for crafting quality goods owing to its thinness, pliability, and affordability being more than Full Grain. ‘Corrected’ leather is another alternative of Top Grain leather. It is Top Grain leather that has undergone an exhaustive process of sanding, buffing, stamping, and dyeing to get a more uniform appearance wherein all natural markings have been removed.


Suede is leather made with the inner layer of the hide, the side that is in reality in contact with the flesh of the animal. The surface is made to go through sanding and buffing and the outcome is suede leather jacket that is softer and more flexible. However, its absorbent surface makes it more prone to staining.

Faux or Synthetic Leather

Faux leather is a type of synthetic leather made typically using polyurethane or vinyl. The look of faux leather replicates real leather but the cost is considerably less. However, it does not possess qualities of real leather qualities like getting better over time, being naturally stretchable, breathable, and resistance to cuts and other erosions, and a distinctive natural appearance and feel.