The leather industry is one the oldest industries known to mankind. Our earliest ancestors used skins to protect their body, hands and
feet. Leather is made from the skin of any animal, reptile, bird or fish through a process known as tanning. This process preserves the
skin which would otherwise quickly putrefy or decay.
The early leathers were made from cowhide, calfskin, pigskin, deerskin, and goatskin leathers. The hides and skins coming from
animals either hunted or farmed for food purposes. The present trend is for most upholstery to be made from Bovine material (that is to say cattle hides) as this is readily available and best lends itself to the modern demands of designer, producer and consumer.
The physical properties which make leather a unique and valuable material for upholstery purposes are:
– High tensile strength
– Resistance to tear
– High resistance to flexing
– High resistance to puncture
– Good heat insulation
– Leather contains a great deal of air, which is a poor conductor of heat. This is an important comfort consideration.
– Permeability to water vapour
Leather fibres will hold large quantities of water vapour. This property enables leather to absorb perspiration, which is later dissipated.
A significant factor in comfort.
– Leather is warm in winter and cool in summer.
– Leather can be moulded and will retain its new shape. It has both elastic and plastic properties in wear.
Resistance to wet and dry abrasion
– These properties, concerned with wear and maintenance, are controlled by the tannage and surface finish. These have now reached
high levels of excellence.
Resistance to fire
– Leather is inherently resistant to heat and flame.
Resistance to fungi
– Leather is resistant to mildew.
Resistance to chemical attack
– The atmosphere of modern cities is polluted from the burning of carbon fuels with sulphur dioxide gas, which can accelerate the
deterioration of leather. Modern leathers are tanned and dressed to resist these harmful chemicals.
Real leather is a natural product. It breathes, is warm and has individual characteristics which make each hide unique. Leather will
always bear the marks of its natural origin and these characteristics can show as healed scars, growth marks, areas of differing fibre
density and hair pore structure. These hallmarks in no way detract from the wearing qualities of the leather. They are signs discerning
owners cherish when buying leather. With the passing of time and use, it develops a patina which enhances its beauty.