Of the many terms you may have come across, especially dealing with leather and leather products would be Aniline Leather. To add further intrigue to this mix, you may also have come across ‘full’ aniline Leather as well as semi-aniline leather. In this post, we will not only cover what Aniline Leather is but also learn about the different types of Aniline Leather, its features, how it is made, its advantages and disadvantages and so much more.
Aniline Leather and its Origins
Before going any further, it would be best to first go through what Aniline Leather is as well as its origin for us to then understand all the other important factors that are linked to one of the most popular leather treatments in the world.
A type of leather (Full-grain) that has been dyed solely by using soluble dyes would be what Aniline Leather really is. A unique type of leather finishing that maintains the look of the surface uncovered and visible. So should there be any scars, blemishes, birth-marks or other identifiable features on the surface, they would continue to be visible. The treatment calls for immersion of the skin or hide in transparent tanks that gives the product color while maintaining all its natural qualities and features including pores. This is why only high quality leathers are best suited for aniline treatment, resulting in it being the tanning industry’s best kind of leather-based on refinement.
Origin of the Name: Aniline
The name Aniline has evolved over the years, taking on several different names that were given to this unique leather finish. Going back to 1826, this leather dye was discovered by Otto Unverdorben through the distillation of natural vegetable Indigo. Initially, Crystalline was the name given which changed later on, after other chemicals were found to obtain this substance. Other names that include Tar and Cianolo were given to this leather finish that we now know as Aniline. The word Aniline comes from Sanskrit ‘Nila’ (Ani translated from Sanskrit) which means Indigo. The first usage in the field of tanning took place in 1856.
Types of Aniline Leather
There are three different types of Aniline Leather, which are Pure Aniline Leather otherwise known as ‘Full Aniline’, Semi-Aniline Leather, and Pigmented or Protected Leather. Let’s break these down for better understanding.
Pure Aniline Leather:
Also known as Full Aniline Leather, is a treatment that deals with an application of a transparent film, without the addition of polymers or dyes. This is why the grain and pores of the skin or hide are still completely visible in the absence of any surface layer. This type of finishing calls for a polishing that is done with the help of a velvet wheel. This is a very natural effect.
This type of finishing process deals with more ‘covering’ of the surface of skin or hide. In this instance, layering of some polymers and pigments are added to the translucent layer. This would be a less natural option than the other two options but the grain of the hide is still quite visible. The price is thus much lower than the previous two although the quality will remain high enough to justify the price-point.
Also known as Protected Leather, this type of leather has pigment particles that completely transform the leather surface, giving it an opaque finish. It is therefore due to this type of finishing that the natural grain or pores are practically invisible. On the upside, this type of finish does offer great durability. A good choice for those who are willing to compromise on the natural look and feel of leather.
Advantages of Aniline Leather
Going by its natural look and feel, Aniline Leather also carries a luxurious element that makes it one of the best leather materials to work with. Echoing this point, it further maintains its surface pores, blemishes or unique scars that create diversity among other Aniline Leather pieces. Furthermore, over time; a unique leather patina develops that enhances the beauty of this leather type of finish. Lastly, only the best hides and skins can be used to get the best results which collectively fuel the advantages of Aniline Leather.
Disadvantages of Aniline Leather
While the advantages of Aniline Leather may be far more than the disadvantages, none-the-lesss, these factors include a high price-point for Aniline Leather as well as a delicate quality that requires a great deal of care and maintenance. This is because there is no protective coating on Aniline Leather, which makes it easily prone to damage through spills, staining or sun exposure that can lead to fading of leather. As a result, regular cleaning and conditioning is necessary to maintain its appearance and feel. Also preventing it from drying out.
Aniline Leather Products
While the products made of Aniline Leather are many, these include belts, wallets, bags, leather jackets, furniture, car seats, bicycle saddles, suitcases and other luxury items.
Aniline Leather vs Semi-Aniline Leather
The only notable difference between Aniline and Semi-Aniline Leather is that Semi-Aniline Leather is natural-looking while also being more durable, due to the small number of pigments and light surface coating that is used in its processing. Aniline Leather having no surface coating or pigments are therefore not as durable as Semi-Aniline Leather which also makes it prone to damage.
Yes, Aniline Leather is good quality and is dubbed the highest quality leather based on soft and supple touch as well as having the most natural look and feel.
Yes, Aniline Leather is Real Leather.
Yes, Aniline Leather is very durable and in many cases even more durable than Top-Grain Leather.
Due to its raw and natural form, Aniline Leather is rather expensive. Another reason for its high price is its ability to age well. Developing a unique patina over time.
No Aniline Leather will never peel.
100% Aniline Leather is another name for Full Aniline Leather or Pure Aniline Leather.
Italian Leather is rather flexible due to its durability and flexibility. Often used in restaurants and retail stores. Aniline Leather is dyed using Aniline dye and does not have a top-coat on the finished leather surface.
Semi-Aniline Leather is only slightly pigmented and protected while maintaining the appearance of its original grain and pores.
Simply put, Top-Grain despite popular belief is not the best or ‘top’ quality type of leather. Rather, it comes second mainly due to its toughness and the fact that it has to be sanded and stamped to achieve a uniform looking surface. Aniline Leather on the other hand, made by using Full-grain Leather is not only the best in quality as well as look, maintaining its grain, pores and imperfections, is also one of the most natural types that are also quite expensive and with good reason.
An Aniline Leather Conclusion
To conclude this post on Aniline Leather in a nutshell, we’ve learned; not only does Aniline Leather have different types that involve different processes, which understandably separate them from each other. Aniline Leather has the most natural look and feels, mainly due to the absence of any pigments and top-coating that also renders it delicate and prone to easy damage. There are a few pros and cons regarding Aniline Leather, which justify the price point, care, cleaning & maintenance required for Aniline Leather.