Why Leather?

Why Leather

Clothing and accessories are about more than simply the style of what you wear.

Materials are just as big a part of the things on our bodies as how they look. Luckily for us, then, that leather has both of those areas covered, being as stylish as it is reliable and easy to wear.

"But why leather?" you may ask.

This is a valid question given how many different materials there are out there. However, one way or the other, leather stands tall as a uniquely fantastic material in all its uses. To see why, let's explore all the positives there are about leather. 

Why is Leather Good for Clothes?

From a purely functional standpoint, leather is one of the easiest to wear and durable materials available.

Leather holds up against wind, frost, and scrapes and scratches. It's also easy to treat against wetness like rain or snow, making it appropriate for all weather conditions.

Leather clothing is also easy to clean, with the simplest technique being to simply wipe it down with a damp cloth.

For more extensive cleaning, specialized products are readily available to use while scouring the surface, in some ways making it even easier to clean than regular clothing.

From a visual standpoint, however, the main reason for leather's longevity in clothing is its beautiful appearance.

When it's first made, there's already a huge depth of colors, styles, and looks that can be seen in leather clothing, but this only becomes more true with age.

Aged leather takes on a richer and deeper coloration and texture, making it one of the only materials that becomes more desirable the older it gets.

This is why JooJoobs favorite leather to work with is distressed leather.

distressed leather

Handmade Wallet made using Distressed Leather

In our opinion, no other leather ages better than distressed leather. (maybe Vegetable tanned saddle leather takes a close 2nd)

In terms of both form and function, leather is just a treat to wear.

Soft, supple, breathable, flexible, and rugged all at once, it's hard to beat for either everyday use or tough jobs.

And, just like with its looks, these features only get better with age. 

Why is Leather Good for Accessories?

Beyond clothing, though, leather has plenty of uses in things like purses, bags, hats, and more.

All the same positives that apply to leather clothing could also apply to accessories.

Durability is key.

Leather goods are uniquely durable in ways other materials just aren't.

Gloves, for example, are one item that really benefits from being made out of leather. It's no secret we use our hands almost constantly throughout the day, meaning we need a material durable enough to stand up to these rigors.

This puts leather with its extreme abrasion and water resistance at the top of the class, especially for use in manual labor.

Increased longevity also leads to saving money over time.

This goes double for other leather products like hats or suitcases. The increased longevity of all your leather goods means they'll be ready to serve you for years to come (and look good doing it).

This has the added benefit of saving money, especially for more expensive things, as you won't be needing to replace them for quite some time no matter how often you use them.

Books, too, have taken advantage of leather bindings for centuries. Not only does leather make for a better cover for books than paper in terms of durability, it's also an easy way to make your library look more distinguished. 

You won't have the option to get every book in leather unless you've taken to binding your own, but for those that are available, it's definitely worth the investment. 

Why is Leather Good for Furniture?

Perhaps one of the best uses for leather is in furniture. (I love my La-Z-boy leather chair!!)

Couches, chairs, car seats, and more can all be made using leather, and they're generally the superior option compared to other materials.

While there are certain advantages ($$$) to cloth or even some fake leathers, it's hard to outshine the original.

For one, leather's ease of cleaning is a huge benefit with something you intend to sit on all the time.

Crumbs, spills, accidents, and everything in between are easy to take care of given leather's natural resistance to water that's easily amplified by different waterproofing methods

They're also easy to restore in the case of stains, as there's plenty of leather cleaning products on the market designed specifically to eliminate these unsightly splotches from your fabric. For everything else, just wipe it off.

There's also the case for durability. Faux leather couches, for example, are well known for breaking down within a few years of use, with the imitation leather exterior peeling and chipping off the more it's used.

Real leather does not peel!

This isn't the case for the real deal, as it normally takes a lot more punishment that just regular use to make leather throw in the towel. 

Why is Leather Material so Reliable?

Leather's durability is a well known fact, but why is it the way it is?

A number of factors, really, but all of it comes together to make leather one of the most reliable and long lasting materials on the planet.

From the very beginning, leather itself is a sustainable resource. The vast majority of leather production comes as a byproduct of other industries, in particular beef and dairy farming.

Neither of these businesses require the hide of the cows they use, meaning the almost all of the processed leather and goods you buy do not require animals to be killed exclusively for leather, strictly as an addition to other services already being done. As a result, leather production is at no risk of harming cow populations.

From the physical standpoint, leather is as strong and flexible as it is specifically because of where it comes from. As processed skin, leather already has the benefits of being...well, skin.

The way skin cells are structured makes them fairly difficult to pull apart without a great deal of force or something sharp, with the treatment leather undergoes as hide making these bonds even stronger without compromising the natural plush texture and pliability.

With these properties intact in the finished material, you're left with an extremely sturdy yet soft and lightweight piece of fabric.

These natural advantages of leather can be further enhanced with specialized treatments such as waterproofing.

This is a process whereby special chemicals or oils are applied to the outside of leather goods. These substances soak into the leather and prevent liquids from soaking into the material, causing most or all of the water to harmlessly run off.

This can also serve to potentially darken or otherwise change the color of an existing piece of leather, but if that's the look you're going for, you'd succeed in both preserving your leather and making it look even more beautiful. 

Why Does Leather Look so Good?

Leather's astounding natural beauty is unlike anything else. People often comment on how attractive leather goods look but few understand why they look the way they do.

There's many factors that go into making leather as appealing as it is, but it all starts with the grain.

To simplify things, a leather's grain refers to the look of the leather's topmost surface, that being the skin just below where the hair sat on the living animal.

For full-grain leather, this means you're seeing the hide as it was taken from the animal with little to no buffing or changes to appearance. This makes it stronger and longer lasting, as well as more unique in appearance.

For top-grain leather, you're seeing leather that's had its surface sanded to remove any imperfections. This makes for a more uniform surface but does slightly decrease the durability and longevity of the product.

Both forms of leather have their advantages and disadvantages, but which you have will change the appearance of product you own.

As mentioned before, full-grain leather leaves any kind of bumps, divots, or otherwise uneven spots intact, giving the leather more character and a more naturalistic appearance.

Top-grain will not have any of this, as it's been changed in order to acquire a smooth, glossy, even finish.

Beyond the grain, there comes the different additives to a piece of leather. Chemicals used in tanning or waterproofing can all serve to darken the leather from its most basic state.

This is unavoidable for obvious reasons, but different methods and different substances can have different results on the leather's finished color.

As such, the method of tanning could potentially be something to consider when looking at different products you want to buy.

There are also dyes which artificially change leather to different colors. While leather taken from different animals of the same or different species can have various natural hues unique to their owner, more vibrant or specialized colors can only be achieved through the use of dyes.

Quality dyes will not change the texture and nature aspects of leather, but beware of cheaper options or paint, as these could greatly harm the finished leather by stiffening it, causing it to break down, or coloring it unevenly and unattractively.

None of these aspects of leather, including dying, are inherently better or worse than others. In the end, it simply means you have more choices in exactly how you want your leather to look, and there's nothing wrong with choices. 

Why Does Leather Smell so Good?

Anyone who's ever been near leather can describe that unmistakable smell. Have you ever wondered where it comes from, though?

There's actually a few reasons behind that alluring scent, coming partly from the material itself as well as the different things that go into making it.

Leather's smell is a combination of factors all beginning with the hide it's made from.

Cowhide has a unique scent all its own which is responsible for some of leather's distinctive aroma. This is different from something like rot, as hides are treated to prevent the normal decomposition process skin left out on its own would go through.

Properly tanned leather should never rot on its own so long as it's stored and cared for in a responsible manner.

In addition to the smell of cowhide, the different chemicals introduced to the leather contribute their own aroma.

Every treating liquid, oil, dye, and chemical the leather is placed in during the tanning and processing stages makes the finished leather smell different, ensuring that each piece of leather has at least some degree of uniqueness to its scent.

Finally, there's also the properties of leather to consider. Given that leather starts out as skin, it's a naturally porous substance.

This is beneficial both for helping you to stay cool while wearing leather clothing but also in allowing air to pass through it. When this happens, the scents built into the fabric are allowed to permeate, allowing you to smell the sumptuous cocktail of scents more intensely than you would be able to otherwise.

Smell can even serve a functional purpose, too. An easy way to discern cheap leather (leather that's low quality due to being poorly processed) from the real deal is to sniff it.

If it smells, for example, like paint, oil, or rot, it's likely not a very good piece. On the opposite end of the spectrum, even good leather can begin to mold if not cared for, so being able to smell scents like this can be a good indicator of when you need to clean your leather. 

Why Should You Choose Leather?

It should be more than clear by now that leather is a fabulous fabric virtually without peer. But, more to the point, why should you choose leather?

It's simple, really. If given the choice between a reliable product that's strong, flexible, looks good, and even smells good that's been trusted for years by people all across the world and since nearly the beginning of humanity or an imitation of such that has roughly half the features and a quarter of its lifespan, which do you choose?

So whether it's couches, chairs, jackets, gloves, hats, suitcases, book bindings, or whatever else you might need, now you know why you should most definitely, choose leather.