Leather is a symbol of luxury. The soaring prices of leather only deem to fit for the rich. The question has to be asked: what makes leather so expensive? There are many reasons why genuine leather comes with a hefty price tag. From the material and grain to the tanning and curing process, leather manufacture is a labor of love. Needless to say, leather manufacture is no easy feat.
Before we dive into the details of leather pricing, let us discuss leather as a whole. There are three main types of leather, namely aniline leather, semi-aniline leather, and pigmented leather. Aniline leather is considered untouched leather. Nothing is done to it, from raw animal skin to leather; no alteration is made to it, which leads to its natural shape. Often labeled as the finest leather in the market, aniline leather is supple, silky, and smooth. All these attributes of aniline leather make it particularly expensive.
Another type of leather that people often talk about is bonded leather. Bonded leather is made of scraps, leftovers, and a bonding agent, usually plastic. It is then pressed into sheets and used to make upholstery items, finished leather goods, and more.
Suede is another favorite pick amongst leather lovers. Suede has a soft surface and a napped finish that is made using the underside of animal skin. It is smooth, light, and less robust than full-grain leather, but suede has a unique look and feels that everyone loves. Unlike traditional leather, suede leather is not as expensive as it is made using lower-quality hides.
Let us now go into further detail about why leather is so expensive after all. The following is a list of some common determinants of pricing.
Genuine leather is perhaps one of the most versatile and adaptable fabrics to work with. Soft, supple, lightweight, and durable, leather not only looks great but guarantees longevity and versatility unlike any other. If properly cared for, it will last for decades to come. Leather goods come with a reputation. There are a lot of brands that manufacture excellent leather products. They do not only offer impeccable quality, but some of them are quite affordable as well. Various labels like Lyrevo offers quality leather jackets that guarantee versatility, longevity, and elegance.
Leather manufacturing is a time taking process. You cannot just turn animal skin into the leather in a snap. Animals need at least a year or more to grow large enough to provide large leather panels. The animals must be fed and cared for to ensure good growth. After the skin is acquired, it is cured and treated with various chemicals to make it usable.
Skilled labor and advanced machinery
Leather processing requires specialized equipment. The necessary equipment and machinery for processing leather into its final form are heavy and complex. It requires skilled personnel and cannot be operated by a layman. When a specialized workforce is involved, it automatically leads to increased prices. A minor error may compel one to restart the manufacturing process all over again.
Type of leather
The price of leather goods depends on the type of leather used to make it and how it was manufactured. Full-grain leather is generally considered to be the best quality leather in the market. Bonded leather and natural leather, on the other hand, are considered to be the lowest quality. Cheap leather goods are generally made using bonded leather and are relatively more common to find. Most high street leather goods employ the use of genuine leather at more affordable prices. Designer leather goods, however, typically use full grain or calf leather. In some cases, they use exotic leathers, like a crocodile, ostrich, and more.
Type of animal skin used
Another influencing factor is the type of animal skin used to manufacture the leather. The most commonly used leather is cowhide since it ensures excellent quality, durability, flexibility, and more. Needless to say, cowhide is comparatively pricier as compared to other alternatives like goat, sheep, buffalo, and more.
Colors and dyes
Fully dyed leather is more expensive than semi-dyed leather as it is more time-consuming and challenging to find better-quality hides that can be dyed. Another method used to finish leather is by machine spraying. Machine spraying is less expensive as compared to hand antiqued leathers.
The price also depends on the color you wish to dye your leather. One of the most difficult colors to create is white leather. This explains why white leather goods can be costlier. It is also relatively less expensive to make a large number of hides in a single color instead of a few hides in less common colors. Neutral colors like black, brown, and more are the general preference for many, explaining why they are easier to find and comparatively more affordable. Bulk production is always more cost-effective as opposed to custom orders. Rare color picks like bright and vibrant colors are not only harder to find but are also pricier.
High-quality leather goods generally employ the use of vegetable tanning. Vegetable tanning, unlike conventional commercial tanning, does not use any chemicals to dye the leather. Instead, they use natural coloring methods like tannin and tree bark. Since vegetable tanning is natural, it takes more time to process, which leads to naturally tanned items being more expensive. Commercial leather tanning uses chrome tanning, which involves the use of chemicals to tan the leather. Chemicals are cheaper to acquire, faster to work with, and produce a more cost-effective leather product.
Small-scale production versus large-scale production
The production scale matters when it comes to determining the price of leather goods. Large-scale companies have higher overheads than smaller businesses, which results in their leather goods being more expensive than those procured from smaller businesses. Owing to their budget, however, larger companies can produce large amounts in bulk, which is always more cost-effective than the smaller batches produced by small-scale companies.
Leather is manufactured all over the world. Some counties have developed a reputation in this regard. For instance, Italy is a leading provider of high-end luxury leather. They are known to use the finest quality leather, which undergoes a more extensive treatment and curing process. Similarly, goat and buffalo leather is primarily produced by India. Both goat and buffalo leather are considered low quality and thus are not as expensive. The source of leather determines the price of leather goods.
Everyone dreams of owning and flaunting a leather good, be it a bag, a jacket, or anything really. Leather makes an impact unlike any other. The beauty of a leather jacket speaks for itself. A timeless statement piece will forever remain relevant; if you have been on the fence about investing in leather goods, take this as a nod of approval. While it may seem like a lot of money at first, you are paying for impeccable quality. Investing money in leather never goes to waste. Just be sure to care for it properly.