Leather Remains Fashionable After Thousands of Years
As foreshadowed by Paris Fashion Week in early March, leather is in this fall 2016. This isn’t exactly news though.
Leather has been a staple in closets worldwide for generations. From leather belts to jackets, shoes, wallets, totes, and leather satchels for men, the fabric has stood the tests of times, and has become even more popular in recent years. Absolute Breton, a Spanish fine leather goods company, insists that the demand for luxury fabric surged in 2015.
Leather tanning is one of the oldest known practices. Animal skins were used for tents, and clothing long ago, but the pelts would become stiff or rotten over time. Eventually leather became more flexible and resistant due to treatment methods like rubbing animal fat on the skins or smoking.
Leather can be dated back as early as 1300 B.C. in Ancient Egypt. The Greeks likely picked up the technique from there, and spread it to the Roman Empire.
By the Middle Adges, the Chinese were great producers of leather, and the Native Americans were skillful in leather craft before the arrival of the Europeans.
Leather grades are determined by the different layers of the animal’s epidermis. Full grain leather is the top layer of the epidermis, containing the entire grain, thus, explaining the name. This type of leather is often used to make satchels and briefcases, and show varying imperfections that are a the genuine character of the cow’s skin. It is the highest grade and most durable
Top grain is the second highest grade and second layer. The scratches have been removed, creating a smoother appearance. Ladies’ handbags and leather shoes are often made of top grain leather.
Suede is sanded leather, creating a nappy appearance that is soft to the touch. It’s made from genuine leather, which is the remaining leather that is left after the higher grades of material have been split off the full piece.
Bonded leather is made from the scraps of whatever is left over. Book covers are often made from bonded leather, and some low-quality “leather” furniture is made from a mixture of leather and vinyl materials. It’s not very durable, and isn’t highly fashionable either.
As far as fashion goes, full and top grain leather are what is most often used for wearable items, with genuine leather like suede making excellent linings, or loungewear (like slippers). As fashion continues to evolve, expect to see leather make more appearances in years to come. Get more on this here.