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Leathers & Sheepskins

Buying a leather jacket or coat is not something that most of us do everyday, in addition there are some of us that have never owned one, so we thought it would be useful to provide a brief overview on the main leather types used in the general crafting of men's and women's leather jackets and coats as well as the most popular finishes.

At UK LJ our range is crafted from only high grade and superior nappa leather and nubuck which are derrived from sheep and lamb skins, nappa leather is considered to be more desirable as it offers the highest degree of softness and suppleness whilst also being beautifully light weight to ensure supreme comfort from day one. In addition we also do include within the range high grade and superior quality cow hide leather which due to being heavier weight offers extended wear and higher durability whilst also being better suited for heavier winter wear. The cow hide leather used across our range has a lovely thick feel whilst being malleable and supple to the touch. The leather type is clearly indicated on each garment page so that the cow hides can be identified from the nappa leathers. As a simple and general rule, the larger the animal the thicker and heavier the leather hide will be.

 

Why Leather?

Leather, suede and nubuck are natural materials which provide good wind shielding, warmth and fibre breathability as well as being very comfortable and easy to wear.

The quality is determined by the softness and the origin of skin / hide (e.g. lamb, kid, sheep, goat, pig, cow/buffalo). Lamb, kid, sheep and goat leathers are very soft and supple to the touch and offer a smooth finish and texture, as well as beautifully lightweight which makes these the most luxurious and comfortable to wear (unless you prefer a hardier and heavier weight leather). Cow and buffalo hide leathers are thicker and heavier and offer a full grain texture on the surface which delivers extra character definition.

Leather, nubuck, suede are flexible and natural fabrics which will mould and adjust with regular wear to the body at the contact and contour points. This is the case whether the fit on the person is loose, fitted or comfort fit. Leather garments will also stretch with regular wear at snug contact points. A new leather jacket, coat or waistcoat will have been having on a hanger in the warehouse before you receive. It is therefore not uncommon for the leather to stick out from the body where there is a bit of space. The leather with wear will fall into the body with a little wear and also as it warms up from body heat. Generally leather garments all improve with wear and will give the wearer a lot of pleasure and comfort during its life. In our opinion you can't beat a high quality leather, and yes we are bias.

 

Nappa Leather

Nappa leather is the highest quality and most expensive leather type. Nappa leather is defined by its beautifully lightweight structure, suppleness and softness. Nappa leather is derived from lamb and sheep skins. The main benefit of a garment crafted in nappa leather is that it can be worn all day with out it weighing you down like a heavy weight coat. Of course if you want a jacket or coat that you can abuse then cow  and buffalo hide leather will definitely be more durable. So it is all down to what you want as an individual.

The classic finish for nappa delivers a uniform and consistent colour shade throughout as the leather has a soft seal finish that helps to cover natural variations and blemishes in the top skin.

Aniline nappa is typically produced using vegetable or other soluble based dyes which colour the leather without altering the natural variations and individual characteristics within each skin. In effect, anline nappa leathers will display a subtle and lighter colour tone variation which adds greater definition to create a very soft vintage toned colour finish. In addition aniline leathers also have a softer sheen finish which is less shiny than a classic sealed nappa which has a slighter higher sheen finish. In contrast, the dye process for classic nappa leather produces a uniform surface and solid block colour with a top coat seal finish which conceals variations and blemishes in the skin. Hand dyed and waxed leathers offer a layering of  colour shades and tones which makes each garment individual from the next.

Types of Finish:

  • Classic - this is the typical finish for soft leather and offers a very subtle natural sheen.
  • Brushed - matt finish with no sheen.
  • Crushed - subtle crushed and creased finished that has been set in through a variety of techniques.
  • Glazed - shiny glaze finish. Slightly stiffens leather.
  • Semi-Glazed - as a above but lighter glazed effect. Slightly stiffens leather.
  • Washed - subtle antiqued finish giving an added shade definition and subtle variation within the tone.
  • Burnished - the colour depth is layered by hand to deliver darkened areas to create an effect of aged character and patina without the effects of wear and tear 
  • Twisted - the leather is washed and rung in a twist to embed fashionably long vertical creases.
  • Rub off - colour has been lightly rubbed off during the dye stage.
  • Distressed - fashion worn look.

 

Nubuck

Nubuck is made from finely sanding and milling full grain leather, the process is expensive and produces a luxuriously soft finish. Nubuck can be described as velvet on leather, this short nap that catches the light to give a very subtle dual tone effect in a matt finish. High quality nubuck jackets and coats offer an attractive vintage look finish.

Nubuck is generally more expensive than standard nappa leather.

Our nubuck has gorgeous velvety soft touch finish and is a beautiful medium weight, it is definitely gorgeous to touch and wear.

 

Suede

Suede is derived from an interior split of a leather skin. Suede has short hair like structure on both sides. Suede is generally cheaper than premium nappa leather or nubuck.

Finish - short hair / fuzzy finish. Lightweight to wear.

 

Hide Leathers

Pig and cow skins are used for hide leathers and typically offer a full grain texture. Pig and cow skins are thicker and heavier than nappa leather, with cow hide being the heaviest and thickest. Cow hide is also commonly referred to as 'buffalo hide' - it is the exact same leather type.

Pig and cow hide (buffalo hide) leathers are sought after due to their weight and thickness. The pig or cow skin is sliced by a laser to reduce weight and thickness to make it more suitable and practical for wear and crafting into jackets.

It is generally worthwhile being aware that the leather jackets and coats generally sold within high street fast moving fashion chains are typically made of very thin slices of cow or pig hides in order to achieve the maximum number of leather sections and hence garments from a single hide. Thus quality is sacrificed for higher profits.

Leather motorbike jackets are also typically made from hide leathers for extended durability, these are made of an optimum thickness to provide protection and sufficient flexibility.

UK LJ only offers superior quality cow hide that delivers both a lovely thickness as well a good suppleness to ensure a high end finish and comfort feel.

 

Brushed Hide Leather

This is milled cow hide leather to give a nubuck type finish and has a brushed matt effect. This has a soft touch finish and is thicker than nubuck, nappa leather or suede.

Our brushed leather jackets and coats are made from premium quality cow hide that has been expertly crafted to provide a garment that will fit well and also feel soft to the touch. The added advantage of brushed leather is that it has a matt finish.

 

Sheepskin

A genuine sheepskin is the original and full hide with the sheared wool surface on one side and the leather skin on the other. Suede type nubuck finishes are produced by lightly milling the underside to deliver a brushed matt texture. Sealed nappa finishes are created through a chemical dye process that also creates a top coat layer. Sheepskin do vary in suppleness and weight considerably. The breed size of the animal will determine the weight and softness with Merino and Toscana sheep renown for their superb lightweight and softness. which makes them super comfy wear. Lambskins are the lightest weight and softest. All sheep and lambskins are excellent insulators from cold, wind and damp as well as the rain to a degree. Key point to remember is that whilst they naturally repel rain water at surface level they are not waterproof!


Toscana Lambskin

If you are looking for extra softness, suppleness and comfort wear with an extra touch of chic or glamour then you can't get better in the sheepskin category than a Toscana lambskin. The Toscana sheepskin and lambskins are characterised by their beautifully soft long hair fur, this is the exterior wool coat which gives a luxuriously deep, thick and long fur like pelt. The best quality Toscana is from a specialist breed of sheep farmed in the very panoramic and high mountain tops of the Spanish Pyrenees and so garments crafted from their pelts offer fantastic insulation and protection from the harsh and cold winter weather whilst also being very well suited to colder autumn conditions due to its super comfy light to medium weight. And of course being a natural material allows full breathability of the skin to help maintain an appropriate temperature balance. If you want a single soft and luxurious sheepskin jacket or coat that you can wear both autumn and winter then the Toscana is the most versatile for our changing weather.

 

Imitation Leather & Sheepskin

There are very good leather, nubuck and suede imitation garments available and these are referred to and labelled as "faux". It is worthwhile noting that imitations generally mimic the higher quality end of genuine leather, suede and nubuck skins (i.e. these do not imitate the lower quality end). All the same, the imitations do not offer the wind shielding, warmth and fibre breathability of real leather, nubuck or suede. Most people that have an imitation leather, suede or nubuck jacket or coat will either find that it does not keep them warm in the depths of winter or will find themselves hot or sweating in the garment when in the warm indoors or in a warm environment.