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Leather - The Guide

Leather is a natural product with its own unique characteristics, it is therefore suitable for upholstery as it offers durability in addition to a unique style and comfort. Unlike many fabrics, leathers properties can change over time, adding to the inherent character, making your upholstery a real investment.

The raw material used for upholstery predominantly comes from cow hides. Collins and Hayes only use full original hides, not splits or reconstructed hides.

Being a natural product, hides show the marks from its years of growth in various forms, for example; stretch, marks, healed scars, insect bites, scratches and so on. Wrinkles and creases are natural and enhance the individuality of each hide.

Collins and Hayes leathers

It is important to select the most suitable leather according to your needs. Although leather is a natural product, it is available in different finishes. The raw hide, once treated, can vary in thickness, size, elasticity and colour. The unique smell of leather comes from the ingredients used in the tanning process.

There are generally three different types of leather finishes: Aniline, Semi Aniline and Pigmented. Aniline and Semi Aniline are full grain leathers and have all their marks left in-tact on the surface of the hide. Pigmented leathers are corrected grain leathers and have been abraded to remove the marks and then re-finished to give a more consistent finish.

It is common practice for upholstery manufacturers to use a ‘breather fabric’ on the reverse of cushions and on the body under the cushions as leather does not breathe naturally. These breather fabrics allow for air flow, reducing the ‘whoopee cushion’ effect.

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Aniline Leathers

Full aniline leathers are generally the most natural and warmest. They are produced by immersing the hide in a bath of dye which penetrates through the leather. Therefore the hides used for this finish are a better quality from those used for pigmented finish as the unique naturally occurring marks on the hide will remain visible. Aniline leathers are renowned for their maturing properties during life and use.

“A piece of leather furniture only becomes more beautiful with age. Your choice of leather determines how beautiful it will become”
Elmo Calf

Semi-Aniline Leathers

Some aniline leathers are lightly finished and incorporate only a small degree of pigment. This provides a degree of coverage and protection that can assist soil repellency.

Pigmented Leathers

A protective polymer finish containing pigments is applied to these hides. This gives increased durability, better resistance to soiling, spillages and also improves light fastness.