What is Leather?



Leather is a material that comes animals skins that have been treated with a process called "tanning". Regardless of which tanning method is used (there are several), tanning's main goal is to permanently change the protein structure of the skin to make it more durable, usable, and resistant to decomposition and rot.

Leather has unique properties, like high tensile strength and resistance to tear, abrasion, and flexing. It’s also heat, flame, and mildew resistant. Some leather is also moldable, which means it can be shaped into a form and after its fibers rearrange themselves, will stay that new way forever.

Leather comes is a wide array of colors and thicknesses. It can be almost hard as rock or supple and stretchy like fabric. The variation of these properties depend on the tanning and finishing process. Leather has a wide range of applications, in fashion of course, as clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories, but also in the auto and aviation industry, in furniture, book binding, drum making, and so on. With proper care, good quality leather will last a lifetime.

Most leather is a byproduct of the meat and dairy industry, with 65% of it coming from cows . The second most common type of leather is sheepskin.

The earliest leather artifact found is a shoe discovered in Armenia that dates back to 3,500 BC! It was named the Areni shoe and you can see it in the photo below!

Today, the leather industry has an annual revenue of more than 53 billion dollars. We're a long ways from that first shoe!

And lastly, something you can test right away: the average person wears about 4 pieces of leather a day. How many are you wearing or carrying right now?

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