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Zoom In On These Exotic Skins


Cowhide

Made From: Full-grown cows, bulls and horses.

Texture: Coarse, thick and dull-looking.

Good For: Most heavy duty leathers and most commonly used skin - think wallets, boots, jackets. If you want extra durability, check the label to see which portion of the animal it is skinned from. The thickest part comes from the shoulder, with extra-large grains. Don't turn your nose up at this commoner.

Care: Dust will settle into the creases of shoes and gnaw away at the protective leather finish. It will eventually cut through the finish and split the leather.

Pigskin

Made From: Farmed pigs, or hogs like the peccary wild boars and Brazilian rodents called carpinchos.

Texture: Resembles cowhide but pigskin has more small visible pores and are mainly used for sports shoes, wallets, bigger bags and belts.

Good For: One of the most versatile of leathers, pigskin is usually found in sports shoes and bags.

Care: Blemishes on this type of leather can be cleaned off with an ordinary pencil eraser, especially on white skins.

Lambskin

Made From: Young sheep.

Texture: Delicate velvety texture.

Good For: Because it is expensive and its supple structure cannot hold shapes well, it is often used in small quantities like wallets. Garments sometimes also use lambskin since it follows the body shape like fabric. It is also used for shoes that have a softer shape.

Care: The smooth-as-silk texture of lambskin is made by stretching the skin until every wrinkle is evened out. It therefore rips easily and its dye also fades easily.

Calfskin

Made From: Young cows.

Texture: Smooth, full grain (common term for treated smooth leather).

Good For: Calfskin has the tightest grain and so it feels smooth and supple enough for making belts. Tough enough to withstand scuffing and hardwear and stiff enough to hold its shape, it is also used by numerous fashion houses in their shoes. As it is more expensive than cowhide, it is often used for making dress shoes.

Care: Use leather cleaner to help clean and buff away blemishes.

Kidskin

Made From: Young goats

Texture: Silky, soft and supple.

Good For: Gloves. Because kidskin is like cloth, it is commonly used in billiard or driving gloves as it fits like a second-skin. Natural oils from your hand will also make it more supple in feel and darker in tone. Kidskin is also popular in making extremely soft and comfortable dress shoes like these, especially for older people who may have feet problems.

Care. No oil-based cleaners as they stain. If you prefer professionals, take your leather item to leather-care specialist.

Buckskin

Made From: Wild stag like antelope, deer and elk.

Texture: It is an extremely soft leather with broad grains and it will not keep its shape as well as calf skin.

Good For: Shoes.

Care: Use leather spray.

Snakeskin

Made From: Pythons, usually of the brownish-orange or white varieties, from Indonesia. A more exotic pelt comes from the karung, a watersnake found in the Indian subcontinent.

Texture: Python-skin has distinctive diamond markings, while karung has an overlapping two-layer surface.

Good For: Fashion designers like Roberto Cavlli and Dolce and Gabbana use it as it is cheaper than crocodile and is large enough so it requires less seams to produce a bag.

Care: Like lizardskins, it is usually dryer than cowhides and has an irregular surface. Use a conditioner to prevent splitting. Use thinner coats each time as it has poor absorbent qualities. Karung leather has overlapping layers and so are more susceptible to dust trapped in the nooks. Wipe gently between them.

Lizard Skin

Made From: Crocodile or alligator.

Good For: Design-wise, lizard skins win hands down with their intricate lines and horned textures. The belly-side is also used for its distinct patterns in bags and wallets. The over-side is used more for belts and boots. Lizard skins are generally extremely costly due to the rarity of the reptiles and complicated tanning process. Another reason for the steep cost is that lizard skins are non-elastic. This means skins for shoes and bags have to be cut to exact fit.

Care: Use fine leather lotion.

Ostrich Skin

Made From: The only bird to provide leather.

Texture: It is supple, with a unique grain that resembles a plucked bird. If its body's craggy and pockmarked look puts you off, opt for leather skinned from its foot instead. The latter resembles the belly skin of a reptile.

Good For: Known in the industry as the "Rolls Royce of leathers", with its superior strength and elasticity.

Care: This bird hide does not crack or flake easily and does not require much special attention.

Galuchat

Made From: Stingray, usually the cowtail species.

Textures: Jewel-like patterned, with a bulbous texture.

Good For: Extremely resistant to wear and tear. It is often prized for its decorative function. Expensive and produced in small quantities, it is found on sword handles and watch straps.

Care: This durable skin requires very little maintenance. Just an occasional swipe with a clean rag is enough.

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