What Is Nappa Leather

what is nappa leather

Nappa leather is the name given to the smoothest quality leather, which can be made from any animal hide being cow, sheep, or goat. Kid goat and calfskin’s hide being the most preferred. The main difference is the tanning process which is distinctive in nature in regards to the other quality leathers. It is tanned using chromium or aluminum sulfate which gives the leather a soft and durable nature. The leather is used in various products including leather jackets and other leather apparel, bags, shoes, and automobile upholstery. 

Why is it Called Nappa Leather? 

why is it called Nappa leather

Nappa; a name derived for a city in 1847 by Nathan Coombs. It was generally a local native American word used to describe a city in California by 2 native tribes hence naming it Napa, California. 

The Nappa leather was first introduced by Emanuel Manasse in 1875, son of a leather tanner from Germany. While working for the Sawyer Tanning Company he developed a leather so soft, flexible and durable highly suitable for gloves. Given the area from which the leather was developed; Napa, California, hence the name Nappa Leather came into being.  

The Tanning Process 

The tanning process

Nappa leather is distinguished by its tanning process. Which gives off a soft and durable finish to the hide, including the grain that is also visible. The process involves chromium or aluminum sulfate along with salts. Then the leather is dyed using water-soluble colors to build resistance against fading. The overall process of the Nappa Leather makes it soft, durable, and a lot easier to maintain. 



The Nappa leather is made from a full-grain unsanded animal hide which gives off a very natural texture. The luxe appearance of leather is highly demanded among various luxury brands and products. As for its durability and premium feel, the leather is made from full-grain which makes it one of the highest quality leather. The uncorrected grains and blemishes give the leather a luxurious appearance whilst being soft and flexible.



Nappa leather is softer, smoother, and more durable than other types of leather. The unique tanning process of the leather gives it a smooth and flexible texture which gives off a buttery feel when you brush your fingers across it. The overall appearance of the leather embedded in any product gives premium quality and a luxury look to it. Which definitely differs from the other leather finishes available on the market.  

Where Nappa leather is used

Where Nappa is used

As the word “Napa” has now become a universal staple for any leather that is smooth and soft. It is used in various products. Starting from handbags and ending with anything that requires a luxury finish. Be it a car seat, sofa, leather jacket, or even a wallet. Many automobile manufacturers use Napa leather to add something extra for their consumers due to the leather’s durable, smooth and soft texture, the feeling is very buttery when you sit on it. 

The Controversies

Napa leather has faced many controversies as well as copyright issues. True Nappa leather is one developed from the chromium tanning process which is one of the highest quality leather. But due to marketing tactics, most people describe any soft and smooth leather as Nappa leather. 

Is Nappa Leather Real Leather?

Yes! It is real leather made from uncorrected full-grain hide. The hide used to make Nappa Leather usually comes from calves, lambs, and kid goats, because of their soft and smooth nature. 

Difference Between Leather and Nappa leather

Nappa Leather vs Leather

Logically there’s no difference between leather and Nappa leather except for the term ‘Nappa, which describes a soft and smooth texture. Leather refers to a variety of types and finishes whereas Nappa refers to a specific subtype of leather that is soft, smooth, and premium quality. 

The term used by Marketers

The biggest controversy Nappa faces is by the Marketers who define any soft and smooth leather as “Nappa leather”. Making it a term used generally for smooth and soft leather. Being a remarkable marketing tactic, Napa can be anything from full-grain leather to faux leather

Maintenance of Nappa Leather 

Maintenance of Nappa Leather

Nappa leather is comparatively a lot easier to maintain than the other types of leather. The chromium sulfate tanning process along with a water-soluble dye makes the surface so smooth that the stains don’t actually stick around easily hence making the surface easier to clean. The DIY leather conditioners can help you prevent the quality and appearance of the product from wearing out. 

Ending Note

Nappa leather was coined in 1875 by a German in Napa, California. Consisting of a soft, smooth and durable texture it got its name from where it was developed. It is usually made from full-grain leather which makes it one of the highest quality leather. The tanning process differs from the other types as it gives off a soft texture. The leather is used in high-end products because of its luxurious and premium quality. 

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments