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Thread: Leather Hide Sources

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2020

    Default Leather Hide Sources

    As Iíve seen other posts, I too am suffering from leather paralysis. My problem is that I like too many! In reading leather descriptions on both the H&M website & price document, hides can be sourced from multiple locations. I have seen the following mentioned: ďEuropeanĒ, Germany, South America and New Zealand. Iím assuming the US is also included, but havenít actually seen it specifically mentioned. I realize the tannery itself plays a huge role in how a hide turns out. I read in a previous posting that hides from Germany were especially nice because barbed wire isnít used and bugs were minimal. Can someone provide a general assessment of hide quality based on source location? Should this even be a consideration?

    We are considering the following analine hides. Does anyone have any experience with these & what can you tell me?
    1. Maquire (New Zealand)
    2. Giles (European)
    3. Brigade Saddle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Alexandria VA

    Default Re: Leather Hide Sources

    The Country of Origin really has no bearing on leather quality or fitness of use. However, quite a few people perceive that it does. In a global economy, a hide (Crust) may come from a cow that was raised and slaughtered in America, then shipped to China for pre-tanning, then to Italy for final finishing. Is that a USA hide then? A Chinese one? Or an Italian hide? Customers that say they want to buy a hide from a certain country are over-thinking it, quite honestly. However, the romance of saying "This hide is from Italy" makes them feel better than "This hide was tanned in China". Preconceived notions that we who sell the leather (and the makers themselves) are keenly aware affects the buying patterns.

    Most people have an iPhone. If not an iPhone, a Samsung product. Where is that made? China. When you go shopping for a new phone, so you say "I want a phone made in the USA, or one that was made in Germany, etc?" No, you do not. You say "I want an iPhone because they are well made and high quality". And that's the correct way to buy something. Truth is, the Chinese tanneries used by the better makers have exacting quality standards. They are the same year after year after year. The Italian hides on the other hand, are all over the board on consistency such as colors and textures. So my advice is to disregard country of origin - its not a factor. By the way, all USA tanneries were basically closed in 2008 due to pollution standards from EPA and worker health from OSHA. Tanning leather is a dirty, nasty business and recovery / safety equipment runs into the millions of dollars, so the vast majority of leather is now imported. Horween in Chicago is one of the remaining active tanneries in the USA, but their leathers are too coarse for furniture - they do mostly shoe leather and for sports equipment.

    Leathers from China are almost all finished hides (painted leather). The Europeans tanneries excel at Aniline hides (Dyed). The finest hides come out of the north of Germany and Belgium, as the cows are pampered there and the tanneries don't salt the hides for transport, they use refrigerated trucks for transport. The result being butter-smooth, velvety hides that have big price tags.

    Make your selection based on the type of hide you want (Finished vs Aniline), the look and feel of the leather, and your budget. Don't overthink it !
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2020

    Default Re: Leather Hide Sources

    Thank you for your quick response Duane! All of the three mentioned above are aniline (at least we’ve made that decision). I have found pics on the forum for the Maquire & Brigade Saddle leathers. If anyone has a piece of furniture made with the Giles leather, would sure appreciate seeing a picture. Any comments are welcomed!

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