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Know the Type of Leather, Know the Type of Company

January 17, 2012

At DCT Leathers, we are oftentimes approached by a potential customer with a request that goes something along the lines of, “Do you make leather garments?” To which we have to reply regretfully that no, we don’t manufacture anything. Rather, we import hides for upholstery, desktop leather, automotive leather, or aircraft leather. But what we can help such prospective customers with is a dose of helpful knowledge that may allow them to differentiate between different types of leather and leather manufacturers; to separate the sheepskins from the goatskins, as it were.

As we’ve said before, the leather industry has been around since the very beginning, or at least since the very beginning of animal hunting and hide-wearing. Tanneries have flourished throughout history on all inhabitable continents. Frequently these tanneries have been utterly independent and unaware of each other, and have made use of very different types of animals in their tanning process.

All animal leathers have what we’ll call their own “personality,” i.e. their own commercial utility. For example, lambskin traditionally yields excellent material for softer garments. Kangaroo leather is strong and thin and as a result is relatively expensive. Kangaroo leather, in particular, on account of its lightweight flexibility as well as sturdiness, is used for high end professional sport shoes including golf and NFL footwear.

Of course, the most commonly used type of leather in the world is cowhide. Even here, the differences between various types of cowhide vary extraordinarily. Many North American cattle, for example, have hardier and thicker coats on account of the harsher winters on this continent, and are ideal for leather shoes and boots. That being said, if one purchased cowhides from, say, Florida or the Carolinas, one would get leather from cattle raised in easier, warmer climates. Thereby, such cattle with thinner hides would better be used in garments or furniture.

At DCT, the leather we work with comes from Andrew Muirhead of Scotland. On account of Europe’s relatively moderate climate, the cattle that range there have the perfect hides that are larger with less natural defects for a high-value product such as cushion seating in aircraft leather, or the leather trimming that stretches across an office desktop.

Our belief is that if customers realize the different types of leather that tanneries specialize in, it will inform their decision that much more accurately. On that note, we wish shoe manufacturers or garment makers all the best in their business, but we’re currently supplying automobile, furniture and aviation manufacturers with Fine Scottish Leather.

Know the animal, know the company.

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