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What Is Calfskin Leather

what is calfskin leather

Calfskin leather boasts a surface that is smooth to the touch, luxurious to look at, yet more durable than regular cowhide. This makes it the perfect choice for jackets and many other leather products.

If we look at the hierarchy of leather in terms of quality and desirability, calfskin is definitely around the top. If you are interested in purchasing a calfskin jacket or just want to learn more about the fascinating world of leather, then this article is for you.

Before we discuss what makes calfskin leather so suitable for leather jackets, we need to understand what it actually is.

Let’s take a deep look at Calfskin

Calfskin leather or calf leather is a type of leather produced from the hide of young domestic cattle. It is often touted as the most luxurious kind of leather and holds a certain status in the leather fashion industry. It is used in all sorts of leather products, from jackets to shoes, handbags, belts and wallets.

How are the two finishes of calfskin leather made?

Calfskin leather is made from the hide of a calf. The raw skin is then processed to clean off all the hair on it. Once it is clear of all hair, it is sent to the tanning facility. There it is tanned and treated to form it into the proper leather that is used in all leather products around the globe.

During the treating process, several finishes are applied to the leather that alters its look, weight and other physical factors. Calfskin, in particular, has two major finishes; aniline and semi-aniline.

Aniline leather:

Aniline leather is one of the most famous finishes of leather out there, and rightfully so. It is the purest form of leather in the market. The final processing done for an aniline finish leather is exceptionally light.

Aniline leather is mainly known for its smoothness, yet an aspect of aniline that not many people know about is that it retains the wrinkles and other marks that were present on the animal’s body. This makes aniline finish ideal for calfskin leather. Since calfskin is already smooth and soft, it makes sense to preserve that characteristic by avoiding sanding altogether.

Aniline leather also preserves all the natural grain of the animal hide, resulting in a piece of leather that is easy to color in any hue or shade you want. So, if you want to express yourself through vibrant colors and bombastic shades, then aniline calfskin leather is the way to go.

Semi-aniline leather:

Semi-aniline leather might sound similar to aniline but is relatively different. The main distinction lies in the fact that semi-aniline calfskin leather has a protective coating on it. This coating is there to prevent the leather from getting damaged and also to help avoid moisture damage. Semi-aniline is also considered more durable than aniline leather.

Additionally, semi-aniline is usually made from calfskin that has the least number of wrinkles and marks and is very reminiscent of full grain leather. This pristine perfect look is not everyone’s cup of tea, yet still holds a significant portion of the market.

Is Calfskin real leather?

Yes, calfskin leather is very much real leather. Here the distinction between real and genuine leather is crucial to make. Many people use these words interchangeably, which is not correct.

Real leather, as the name suggests, is made from high-quality rawhide and often contains small wrinkles and marks. Genuine leather, on the other hand, while technically real leather, is the lowest grade of real leather. It is often no better in quality than faux leather.

Is Calfskin Leather waterproof?

Due to its tighter grain, calfskin leather has fairly high water resistance. But, claiming that it is waterproof would be misleading. No real leather can ever be fully waterproof on its own.

There are sprays available on the market that claim to make leather immune to water, but on its own, leather will absorb moisture. So, keeping your leather garments away from water and moist areas is always a good idea.

How does Calfskin Leather fair against other Types of Leather?

We’ve mentioned earlier that calfskin leather is considered one of the best types of leather. Its smoothness and luxurious feel justify its extravagant status and high price point. But how good is it actually? Let’s compare calfskin leather to other popular types of leather, and see how it holds up against them.

Calfskin vs. Cowhide:

Cowhide leather is the most typical type of leather on this planet. It is present in everything, from leather furniture to leather to accessories. It has nothing uniquely remarkable about it, but it doesn’t need to. It is a decent type of leather that is also lighter on your pockets.

Calfskin, on the other hand, is much more luxury-oriented and sort of better in every way other than price. The tighter grain of calfskin makes it noticeably more durable while being lighter and thinner than cowhide. Calfskin is also considerably softer to the touch.

Calfskin vs. Lambskin:

Lambskin is the closest competitor we have to calfskin, both in terms of softness and durability. It is not even a question of which is better, as they are both considered to be luxury materials. There are, however, a few differences between the two.

Lambskin has a very buttery and soft feel to it, even more than calfskin. It is thin and lightweight yet highly effective against wind and cold climates, making it ideal leather for winter jackets.

Calfskin, on the other hand, has a nice balance of surface softness and toughness and holds much better in harsh conditions. Calfskin is also more resilient to scratches and abrasions.

Calfskin vs. Sheepskin:

If we are talking about general market terms, then there is barely any difference between lambskin and sheepskin leather, and most places use the names interchangeably. There used to be a major divide, but ever since manufacturers started using the smoothest sheepskin available, that distinction faded away. As of today, it wouldn’t be surprising to find a sheepskin jacket that is softer and fluffier than lambskin.

One area where sheepskin has its distinct personality, however, is the world of shearling jackets. As the thinner, heavier version of lambskin, it is much more resilient against cold environments. Compared to calfskin, sheepskin is drastically better for frigid temperatures and icy landscapes.

Calfskin vs. Goatskin:

Goatskin leather is a fairly competent alternative to calfskin leather. Goatskin is also soft to the touch, water-resistant, and has a tight grain, just like calfskin. The only significant difference between the two is that goatskin is more flexible. The texture of goatskin is also different from calfskin.

At the end of the day, both of them are ideal for jackets and have their own little quirks. Asking which one is better is utterly redundant since it all boils down to personal preference.


Is Calfskin Leather Good for Making Jackets?

Yes, calfskin makes for an excellent jacket material. Its soft surface alone is enough to create a demand for a jacket like our Sergeant black leather jacket. It is also straightforward to work with, resulting in outerwear that ranges from flamboyant biker jackets to brown leather coats.
One thing that we didn’t cover when talking about calfskin leather finishes is its matte finish. There are only a few leather types that look good with a non-glossy matte finish and calfskin is one of them. So anyone who prefers matte black jackets over any other type will love calfskin.

Where to Buy a Calfskin Leather Jacket?

Calfskin leather is a fairly popular jacket material. You can find hundreds of different colors, designs, and styles on the internet. All this variety is excellent, but there are two downsides. First is that the quality of the jacket can vary drastically from vendor to vendor and you can never be completely confident.
The second and more critical issue is the time it will take to find precisely what you want. Leather jackets are a significant investment and each one of us wants a jacket that is exactly like we want it to be. But finding that one perfect jacket among the sea of hundreds of pre-made ones is nigh on impossible. Luckily, there is an excellent solution to this problem.


Calfskin is, without a doubt, one of the best kinds of leather out there. Its masterful balance of softness and toughness is what makes it so great for everything from handbags to leather jackets, while its lightweight and thin nature ensure that it can be molded into any design a craftsman desires it to be. Sure, you can find other leather types that excel in one specific aspect, but there is nothing that combines all the positives in a neat package, quite like real calfskin leather.

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