Leathers should be seen as being on a continuum in terms of how they will “wear in”, or indeed, “wear out”. 

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Choosing the Right Leather

On one end are natural grain leathers called pure “aniline” leathers, which simply means they are dyed in the drum at the tannery,  Those will be on the most beautiful hides, but will have very little protection in the form of added waxes.  In the middle are leathers that are aniline dyed leathers, but which have some protection added in the form of waxes and oils in the finish or treatment that makes them more cleanable.  We will call those “Aniline Plus” leathers.  And finally at the other end you have Protected “semi-aniline” leathers which offer a higher degree of protection , but may sacrifice authenticity and the opportunity for the leather to develop an attractive patina over time.

Natural Grain Leathers​

Sometimes called “Full Grain” or “Top Grain”, natural leathers are those where the top layer of the dermis of the hide is left intact, dyed for color, and treated primarily with waxes and oils to create the feel and style desired.  Pure Aniline and Aniline Plus leathers are natural grain leathers.  These leathers are often made from the best quality hides as they will display character including blemishes, scars, fat lines, that reflect the life the animal led.  These leathers will also display the greatest amount of clarity and natural beauty of the hide.  They will, to varying degrees, evolve in the home  reflecting their use.  Natural grain leathers will mark and burnish with  use,  They may fade,  They may mark,. But the overall effect will be that they will develop their own patina that is unique and appealing.

Natural grain leathers are forgiving.  Small marks can often be rubbed out with the pressure and heat from your hand.  The application of conditioner and some heat may rejuvenate and restore the leather.  We also ship furniture made with these leathers with a special polishing cloth that is sometimes highly effective at removing marks and even scuffs from the leather.

Protected Leathers​

Protected leathers , often referred to as semi-aniline leathers are, as the name would indicate, leathers that have been treated to “protect” the leather from  marking,, or staining, or perhaps to make the leather more easily cleaned.  This protection is achieved by the application of a coating on the top surface of the leather and the technology for this has advanced dramatically in recent years such that, in many cases, the leather presents as a natural looking leather that is seriously resistant to scratching.  Many of these are made in the same tanneries in Italy as the finest natural leathers.  Because there is a surface coating, these leathers are often made on South American hides which can also make these leathers an affordable option.

There are, of course, trade-offs to This sort approach.  First and foremost, the other side of the coin to the fact that it will not mark, is that it will not patina.  It will never look better or more interesting than the day it is delivered.  Another consideration is that, eventually, the protective coating may start to wear and with it some of the pigment leaving the surface looking worn.

Making the choice​

The ultimate decision will need to factor in cost and aesthetics. Some leathers are more expensive than others and some leathers will simply appeal to you more than others.  Design will be a factor as you take into account the other pieces you may have in the room.  The nature of the household may be a factor if there are kids or pets involved.  Ultimately, some introspection will be helpful.  Are you someone who can embrace the blemishes present on a natural hide and enjoy the process of seeing the leather on your furniture patina?  Of will that simply drive you crazy and you would prefer a leather that will not mark and patina?

Cornelius Showroom
North Carolina

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Charlotte, our Cornelius showroom is worth the drive. Come see our latest collections in a beautifully restored cotton mill. Look through hundreds of leathers and fabrics and work with our dedicated team to get the details “just right”.

Exterior of COCOCO Home Charlotte
19725 Oak St #5
Cornelius, NC 28031
+1 (704) 892-6680
hello@cococohome.com
For appointments during off hours please contact
appointments@cococohome.com
Monday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday By Appointment