What types of leather are there and what characterizes them?

Unverarbeitetes Leder in verschiedenen Brauntönen

Leather is a timeless and versatile material and is used in numerous products. It is not only in the fashion industry that leather is indispensable and is often used by designers for clothing, shoes and accessories. The natural material is also perfect for making furniture and for car interiors due to its excellent feel, durability and beautiful appearance.

But not all types of leather are the same. Each type of leather is unique and has its own characteristics. In the following article, we will take a look at some of the most popular types of leather and find out which leather best suits your needs.

Leather: A natural material with many facets

Leather is a natural product that is unique and has a place in the hearts of many people in the form of clothing, accessories, shoes or interior design items. However, not all leather is the same ! You will now find out how the different types of leather differ from one another and what advantages they offer.

Cowhide leather: robust and durable

Cowhide leather has a number of special properties that, as you will soon see, make it a popular choice in leatherworking.

  • Robustness and durability: Cowhide leather is extremely durable and resistant to wear and tear. It can withstand years of intensive use, making it ideal for products that are subject to heavy wear and tear , such as belts, shoes and bags.
  • Natural grain: Cowhide leather has a natural grain and texture, giving it a rustic and authentic look. These features make each piece of cowhide leather unique .
  • Functionality: Due to its strength and toughness, cowhide leather can be easily shaped and processed. This allows the production of a variety of products in different styles.
  • Durability: Compared to some other types of leather, cowhide is not as susceptible to abrasion. This makes it particularly practical for everyday use.
  • Resistance to environmental influences: Cowhide is generally resistant to moisture and can dry easily without losing its structure or strength . It also withstands temperature extremes well.

Unprocessed cowhide in various colors

Image source: Unsplash

  • Diversity: Cowhide leather can be produced in a variety of finishes, including smooth leather, suede and nubuck leather . This gives it versatility and allows it to be adapted to different requirements and styles.
  • Easy care: Cowhide leather is comparatively easy to care for and clean. Regular wiping with a damp cloth and occasional application of leather care products will help preserve the beauty of the leather.

These properties make cowhide a versatile and durable choice for a wide range of leather products, from clothing to shoes, furniture and accessories. It is important to note that the quality and characteristics of cowhide can vary depending on its origin and processing. When choosing cowhide products, it is therefore advisable to pay attention to the origin of the leather and the quality standards implemented . This will ensure that the product meets your desired requirements.

Calf leather: soft and supple

If you want a soft, supple leather with an elegant look, calf leather is an excellent choice . It is particularly used for high-quality products that combine style and comfort.

  • Softness and suppleness: Calf leather is naturally very soft and supple. It feels pleasant on the skin and is very comfortable to wear. This property makes it a popular material for clothing and accessories where a comfortable feel on the skin is important.
  • Lightness: Compared to cowhide, calf leather is lighter. This fact makes it ideal for garments that need to be comfortable yet warm, such as light jackets and coats.
  • Elegant appearance: Calf leather often has a smooth, fine surface that gives it a classy and elegant appearance. This property makes it particularly attractive for high-quality accessories such as wallets, bags and belts.
  • Flexibility: Calf leather is flexible and can be easily shaped without losing strength. This allows designers to create complex and sophisticated cuts and shapes.
  • Variety of colors: Calf leather can be easily dyed, which allows for a wide range of color options.
  • Durability: Although calf leather has a soft texture, it is still durable and can stand up well to normal wear and use.
  • Versatility: Calf leather can be used for a variety of products, including clothing, shoes, gloves, purses and more. This versatility makes it a popular choice in the fashion world.

However, you should note that due to its softness and fineness, calfskin can be more sensitive to scratches and stains than some other types of leather. Therefore, careful care and attention is required to maintain the quality and appearance of calfskin products.

Sheepskin: The natural choice for comfort and elegance

Sheepskin, obtained from the skin of sheep, is an outstanding type of leather that is characterized by a wealth of unique properties.

  • Lightweight: Sheepskin leather is naturally lightweight, making it an excellent choice for garments and accessories. It provides the comfort and freedom of movement that people desire without the added weight.
  • Breathability: Sheepskin leather is known for its perfect breathability. This means that it can wick moisture away from the skin , ensuring a comfortable and dry wearing experience.
  • Suppleness: Sheepskin leather feels incredibly soft and supple against the skin and is very comfortable to wear . This property makes it a preferred choice for gloves and jackets.
  • Flexibility: Due to its natural suppleness, sheepskin leather adapts perfectly to different body movements. This is especially important for products such as gloves and shoes that require good mobility.
  • Stylish Appearance: Sheepskin leather has an elegant, smooth surface that gives it a stylish and timeless look, making it a brilliant choice for high-quality accessories such as wallets and bags.
  • Durability: Although sheepskin leather is lightweight and supple, it is nevertheless durable. It can stand up well to normal wear and tear and use and will maintain its unique appearance with regular care using sustainable leather care products.

Sheepskin is a perfect choice for those looking for leather products that are comfortable, elegant and functional . Whether you're looking for comfortable gloves, stylish jackets or high-quality accessories, sheepskin offers an impressive combination of properties that make it one of the most popular types of leather.

Goat leather: durable, supple and stylish

Goat leather is a remarkable type of leather that is highly valued in the world of leatherworking due to its unique properties and versatile applications. The reason for this is:

  • High abrasion resistance: One of the most striking properties of goat leather is its remarkable abrasion resistance. This means that even with regular wear and tear and use, it maintains its quality and integrity. Products made from goat leather such as gloves and shoes therefore last a very long time and are ideal for everyday use .
  • Suppleness: Goat leather is naturally supple and feels comfortable against the skin. This makes it an excellent choice for gloves and garments that need to be tight-fitting. The suppleness of the leather allows for a good fit and flexibility.

Elegant brown leather gloves

Image source: Pixabay

  • Lightweight: Goat leather is lighter than some other types of leather , making it particularly suitable for lightweight clothing such as summer jackets and gloves. It offers comfort without excessive heaviness.
  • Elegant look: Goat leather often has a smooth, noble surface that gives it a stylish and sophisticated look. This makes it an excellent choice for high-quality accessories such as wallets and bags.
  • Flexibility: Due to its natural elasticity, goat leather is ideal for products that require freedom of movement. This is especially true for gloves and shoes, which must be comfortable.
  • Versatility: Goat leather can be dyed in a variety of colors, making it extremely versatile. It can be used for a wide range of products, from clothing to footwear, accessories and upholstery.

Overall, goat leather is an excellent choice for those looking for leather products with perfect abrasion resistance, suppleness and stylish looks . It is a versatile option that can be used in various applications, always keeping comfort and durability in mind.

Everything you need to know about the different types of leather

On the way from raw leather to a durable natural material , leather goes through various work processes such as sanding or tanning . The various processing methods are ultimately responsible for the end product and its special properties. But what are the different characteristics of suede, nubuck leather, suede or leather and how can they be distinguished from one another?

What is suede?

Suede is one of the most popular types of leather on the market. It is characterized by its rough and matte surface , which is created by sanding the flesh side of the leather. This process gives the material its unique texture and appearance. It is soft to the touch and very comfortable to wear.

Suede is often used for shoes, bags and clothing. It has the advantage that it develops a beautiful patina over time and becomes more beautiful with age . However, it is important to note that suede is sensitive to stains and moisture. Therefore, it is advisable to care for it regularly and protect it from water.

What is nubuck leather?

Because it is also slightly roughened, nubuck leather is very similar to suede in terms of texture. The difference is that nubuck leather comes from the top of the leather and suede from the flesh side. This gives nubuck leather a finer texture and a slightly velvety feel .

Nubuck leather is often used for high-quality shoes and accessories. It has a classy look and feels luxurious. As with suede, care must be taken with nubuck leather as it is susceptible to stains and moisture . To keep nubuck leather in top condition, it should be brushed and waterproofed regularly.

What is suede?

Suede has an elegant look and is soft to the touch. In terms of texture, suede looks very similar to nubuck leather. In order to create a fine and velvety surface, however, suede is often made from rough leather and then sanded .

Brown suede in process

Image source: Pixabay

This type of leather is often used for clothing, shoes and accessories that require a sophisticated look. It is important to note that suede is particularly sensitive to stains . This makes careful care with a natural care product essential. In order to refresh the surface and remove stains, special leather brushes should also be used for cleaning .

Suede – A classic among leather types

Suede is one of the most well-known types of leather and is often associated with naturalness and rustic charm. It is made from the skin of animals such as deer, roe deer and rabbits and is characterized by its soft, velvety surface.

Suede is used in many areas, from clothing to shoes, furniture and accessories. It is known for its breathability and high level of comfort. However, suede is extremely sensitive to moisture and should therefore be protected from rain . Stains should be treated with special suede brushes and suitable care products .

What is aniline leather?

Aniline leather is a high-quality type of leather known for its natural beauty and softness. The natural material is often considered one of the finest types of leather. The name "aniline" refers to the type of leather dyeing that uses only soluble dyes that penetrate the leather without forming an impenetrable layer on the surface . This makes it possible to retain the natural texture, grain and special characteristics of the leather. The following properties characterize aniline leather:

  • Naturalness: Aniline leather is very natural and shows the natural characteristics of the leather such as scars, wrinkles and pores. This gives it an authentic and rustic look.
  • Softness and suppleness: Aniline leather is extremely soft and supple, which guarantees a pleasant wearability and feel.
  • Breathability: Due to the lack of coatings or layers of paint, aniline leather is breathable, meaning it feels comfortable against the skin and adapts well to different temperatures .
  • Variety of colors: Aniline leather is available in various natural colors and can be dyed in the desired shades.

In addition to all the advantages, you should remember that aniline leather is very sensitive to stains and can also be damaged more easily than other types of leather. In order to maintain the unique beauty and pleasant feel of this particularly attractive natural material, it requires special attention in the form of regular cleaning and care.

What characterizes semi-aniline leather?

Semi-aniline leather is a type of leather that is between aniline leather and fully pigmented leather. It is a popular choice for making high-quality leather products because it retains some of the natural properties of aniline leather while still having some pigmentation. Here are the key features of semi-aniline leather:

  • Naturalness: Similar to aniline leather, semi-aniline leather retains the natural texture, grains and features of the material. However, it has a thinner layer of pigment that is more transparent compared to fully pigmented leather .
  • Appearance: Semi-aniline leather retains a natural leather color. However, it can also be lightly pigmented or dyed to even out color variations and achieve a more uniform color. This gives it an elegant, uniform appearance.
  • Softness and suppleness: Semi-aniline leather has a pleasant feel due to its softness. This property guarantees optimal wearability. However, it is not quite as soft as aniline leather.
  • Stain resistance: Semi-aniline leather is more resistant to stains than aniline leather because it has a light layer of pigment . This makes it more practical for daily use.
  • Breathability: Compared to fully pigmented leather, semi-aniline leather is slightly more breathable, making it more comfortable for products such as furniture or clothing.
  • Care treatments: Semi-aniline leather is generally easier to care for than aniline leather because it is more resistant to stains and wear.

Semi-aniline leather is well suited for products such as high-end furniture, handbags, shoes and car seats. It offers the perfect balance between natural beauty and everyday practicality, making it attractive to many consumers.

Which leather care is the right one?

Even if some types of leather are more robust and resistant, you should avoid aggressive products that contain chemical ingredients for the love of your leather products. Instead, we recommend that you use sustainable products that clean and care for your favorite pieces in a sustainable way. Emma Grün's leather care products protect, clean and nourish all types of leather using natural ingredients. They ensure that your leather products retain their beautiful appearance and pleasant feel and that their natural appearance will continue to bring you joy for years to come.


Whether you choose suede, nubuck, suede or leather depends on your personal preferences and your requirements for the respective leather products.

No matter which leather you choose at the end of the day: To ensure the longevity and beauty of your leather products, it needs the right care. To ensure that your leather looks and feels good for a long time, it is advisable to invest in natural cleaning and care products. This way you can ensure that your favorite pieces are supplied with nourishing care substances right down to the deepest layers and are also protected from external influences.

FAQ: Questions & Answers

What is the difference between aniline leather and semi-aniline leather?

Aniline leather is natural leather that uses only soluble dyes. Semi-aniline leather, on the other hand, is lightly pigmented. This guarantees better stain resistance without affecting the natural texture and softness.

Which types of leather are easiest to care for?

Full-grain leather and semi-aniline leather are generally easier to care for because they have a certain pigmentation that makes them more resistant to stains and wear.

Is faux leather an environmentally friendly alternative to real leather?

Faux leather can be an eco-friendly alternative as it is often made from synthetic materials, but it is important to pay attention to the exact manufacturing processes and ingredients to ensure it is eco-friendly.

What is the best way to care for suede?

Suede requires special care and should be treated with a special suede brush to straighten the pile. Regularly applying waterproofing also protects the sensitive natural material from external influences and should therefore be done at regular intervals.

Which types of leather are hypoallergenic?

Hypoallergenic leathers are usually those that have been treated in an elaborate tanning process to remove allergens. This often includes vegetable tanned leather.


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