An Overview of Leather Types

Types of Leather

Selection of a Leather Jacket

Selecting and buying a leather jacket can be a difficult task. It’s not a low-priced item (at least not if you want your jacket to last forever), and it becomes even a more difficult job to assess its quality or fit of it when searching online.  Technical terms are used, specifically in the descriptions of leather that often are foreign to people. So, this all leaves the buyers in awe.

For satisfying the queries of the potential buyers, this buying guide is written to help you in your research. In this writing, we will learn about different types of leather and their attributes as well. As we know some styles suit and fit particular body shapes, and we will explain the reason. Besides fashion, there are definite reasons why certain features appear on leather jackets only. This buying guide will help you understand what to look for and what to avoid altogether. And in the end, we’ll render some tips which will help you determine the level of care and quality that have gone into the manufacture of the garments.

Different Types of Leather Used in Jackets

The most frequently asked question is, ‘what is the best quality hide for a leather jacket?’ The unsatisfying answer is, ‘the one that suits the style and function of the jacket best’. This is a very important point and worth remembering. Do remember that whatever type of leather is used, should be dependent on the style and purpose of the garment. Be very careful while making a purchase of the leather jacket and its material. Make sure it’s not only one type of leather used in the manufacturing of all leather jackets. The major difference originates with the animal that the hide came from. The basic rule is that the larger the animal is, the thicker and heavier the leather will be.

Buffalo and Cow

The hides obtained from the cows and buffalos are the toughest of all, and they use in the making of shoes, furnishings, and jackets.

This leather is on the stiff side and provides excellent scratch resistance and protection but at the expense of weight, drape, and comfort. It is often used in motorcycle protective gear and motorcycle styles where toughness is the prime consideration. Jackets made of cowhide do not wear and tear too fast.  If comparing the two, buffalo hide has more grain than the cow.

Sheep and Lamb 

These hides are finer-grained, supplier, and lighter in weight than cowhide but still durable and hard-wearing. This leather gives a ‘buttery’ feel. Sheep hides offer comfort, style, and durability. These hides are particularly suitable for the jacket styles that demand suppleness, such as bomber jackets, blazers, and reefers.

Leather Finishes

Once you’ve established the kind of hide you need, the next thing is to examine the tanning process applied to the leather. Different procedures produce disparate finishes that influence the handle, overall look, and appearance of the leather.


Napa is a lengthy and complex tanning process the manufacturers apply to fine-grain sheep or lamb hides and result in extraordinary softness, flexibility, and durability. A Nappa hide is amongst the highest class of leather that can be achieved but is relatively expensive. If any piece of clothing made of Nappa leather is retailed for less than £100 ($150) should be viewed with some skepticism and disbelief.


Aniline leather is dyed exclusively with soluble dyes. Aniline is a chemical that is used as a dyeing agent for the manufacturing of clothes and jackets. But it retains the natural tones, shades, and textures of the animal hide. It is applied to a cow, buffalo, and sheep hides and produces a natural, spotty appearance that allows the skin to breathe. It is specifically better for brown and tan leather jackets.


 In this process, the top layer of the full-grain hide is buffed (rubbed up) or sanded on the grain side to produce a soft, silky, smooth, and velvety finish. However, its quality is much higher, and so is the cost. Nubuck leather jackets are vulnerable to water staining and therefore benefit from waterproof finishes. Nubuck leather jackets are resistant to wear. 


 Suede leather is a type of leather crafted from the undersurface of the animal skin, giving it a soft and supple surface. Suede leather is more fibrous and hairy with a matt, napped finish but wants the robustness and strength of the full hide. Like Nubuck, it is susceptible to discoloration when in contact with water unless treatment is applied.


Split leather is used as a cost-cutting measure; the uppermost layer of the hide is cut away, resulting in two thinner layers. Some retailers market split leather jackets at low prices whilst still claiming they are ‘leather’.

Final Word

This comprehensive guide will help you buy real leather men’s jackets made from genuine leather. These expensive items can stay with you for a long time if you remain cautious while buying. So, when you go shopping next time, recall the focal points above-stated.

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