What to expect from
aniline leathers

Steve Sechrest, COCOCOHome – Co-founder, Charlotte NC

About 75% of the leather furniture pieces we make for our customers are made from aniline dyed leathers. Aniline leathers are those that are “dyed in the drum” in the tannery, rather than having pigment applied after the tanning process. These aniline leathers are the most natural leathers and are typically made of the highest quality raw materials and are often referred to as “Full Grain” or “Top Grain” leathers.

With these leathers, the natural surface of the hide is left largely intact which allows the leather to breathe so that it adjusts to body temperature and is comfortable to sit on.

Oxford Tufted Leather Chair Mont Blanc Bermuda

With these natural full grain aniline leathers, you will also often get tremendous clarity. That is, you will see the marks and blemishes that reflect the life of the animal from which the hide was harvested. Cowhides will often have healed scars from bug bites, barbed wire or other minor injuries. Once healed these will often take the dye differently from unblemished portions of the hide which will result in what may appear as darker marks or even black. We have had customers call us and say things like “I love my new Chesterfield, but it looks like someone accidentally marked on it with a sharpie.”. These marks are not “on” the hides but are rather “in” the hides. Similarly, such leathers will often have “fat lines” which may appear as stripes in the leather. They are part of the natural character of a clear aniline leather.

With a leather such as Echo, Mont Blanc, Pure or Berkshire, you are going to get a ton of that sort of stuff and it is important that you recognize this before you order and make sure you can embrace that character. If not, please ask about alternatives that will hide such imperfections.

Color variations are another aspect of the clear aniline leathers we have been discussing. There are significant color variances from one batch of leather to the next and within a batch from one hide to another. In fact, there can be significant variation in the relative lightness or darkness of leather within a single hide. This picture of panels of Matera “Burnt Sienna” leather is a good example. Each of these was cut from a single hide. The lighter ones will tend to be nearer the spine where the leather is thinner and smoother and it does not take dye as heavily as the leather closer to the belly.


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