From boots and coats to couches and recliners, leather is a durable and popular fabric that has been used for a variety of products for more than 7,000 years
What is leather, anyway?
Genuine leather is a material made from raw animal hide, most commonly cow hide, but can also come from goats, sheep, buffalo and other animals. Exotic leather, also popular, is typically made from snake and alligator. Leather is obtained from the tanning or chemical treatment of animal hide to prevent decay. The tanning process
makes it long-lasting and sustainable. Without this delicate process, the raw hide will rot and decay.
You might be wondering why the floor model of a leather couch you saw at AFW looks different from the one you just received at home. This is because no two hides are alike, and due to the varying grain structure, the dyes and finishes penetrate to differing degrees in different parts of the hide to give an attractive variation. While every attempt is made to achieve uniformity, this is not always possible. Like signatures of nature, each piece is unique.
There are several types of leather, but for the context of furniture, we’ve created a quick guide that can help you learn the lingo of leather:
Corrected leather or corrected grain has been sanded and buffed to have blemishes and scars removed, then embossed to give the piece a uniform look and feel. Protective coating is also applied to make the product soil resistant and help with color consistency.
Think of it similarly to sanding wood. Widely available, most jackets, shoes, and other fashion accessories are made with corrected leather.
Products made with uncorrected or full-grain leather tend to be more expensive because they are made from better hides. This leather is more supple to the touch and will develop a beautiful patina over time, unlike corrected leather.
Uncorrected leather also shows its gifts from nature in appearance, like natural scars, bug bites, neck wrinkles, brands, and the slight difference in the shading of color on the hides. Many people are drawn to this unique look for those reasons. Uncorrected leather is not as soil resistant as corrected leather, however, and should be treated more carefully in regard to use and exposure to sun.
If you’re shopping for new leather furniture but aren’t sure what finish would be best for you and your family, just stop by, our sales and design teams are happy to help!
Looking to learn more about furniture lingo and furniture care? Check out our other blogs below.