NEGMA Leather, Inc. is especially well-known for our fine and highly fashionable Italian lambskin leather. Having our own tannery in Italy enables us to monitor each step of the tanning & manufacturing process, to provide our customers with an unsurpassed level of high quality lambskin leather in various colors and size. Similar to human skin, the skin of each lamb or sheep is different and may have imperfections and blemishes such as insect bites, scrapes or barbed wire scars. Tanning the leather masks some of these blemishes and other processes may also alter the original texture. After completing the tanning process, leather can be “finished” in a variety of ways – it can be antiqued, buffed, dyed, embossed, waterproofed, etc. In our San Diego location, we stock more than 200 colors of leather and carry several different types of finishing – smooth, aniline, semi-aniline and vegetable tanned. We also offer embossed and perforated leathers as well as prints and foils.
In general, leather is sold in three types:
Full-Grain leather or Top-Grain leather refers to the upper section of a hide that contains the epidermis, or skin, layer. It refers to hides that have not been sanded, buffed or snuffed (otherwise known as “corrected”) in order to remove imperfections on the surface of the hide. Only the hair has been removed from the skin. The grain remains in its natural state and will have the best fiber strength and greater durability.
- The natural grain also has natural breathability, resulting in greater comfort for clothing.
- The natural Full-Grain surface will wear better than other leather. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a natural “patina” and grow more beautiful over time.
- The finest leather furniture and footwear are made from Full-Grain leather.
For these reasons only the best raw hides are used in order to create Full-Grain or Top-Grain leather. Full grain leathers are usually available in two finish types: aniline and semi-aniline.
Corrected-grain leather is any leather that has had an artificial grain applied to its surface. The hides used to create corrected leather do not meet the standards for use in creating vegetable-tanned or aniline leather. The imperfections are corrected or sanded off and an artificial grain impressed into the surface and dressed with stain or dyes. Most corrected-grain leather is used to make pigmented leather as the solid pigment helps hide the corrections or imperfections. Corrected grain leathers can mainly be bought as two finish types: semi-aniline and pigmented.
Split leather is leather created from the fibrous part of the hide left once the top-grain of the raw hide has been separated from the hide. During the splitting operation, the top grain and drop split are separated. The drop split can be further split (thickness allowing) into a middle split and a flesh split. In very thick hides, the middle split can be separated into multiple layers until the thickness prevents further splitting. Split leather then has an artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain (bycast leather). Splits are also used to create suede. The strongest suedes are usually made from grain splits (that have the grain completely removed) or from the flesh split that has been shaved to the correct thickness. Suede is “fuzzy” on both sides. Manufacturers use a variety of techniques to make suede from full-grain. A reversed suede is a grained leather that has been designed into the leather article with the grain facing away from the visible surface. It is not considered to be a true form of suede.
Lambskin leather comes in two varieties – smooth and shearling. Lambskin is the skin of a lamb. Sheepskin is the skin of an adult ewe. Smooth lambskin is fine-grained, finished leather. Shearling lambskin is the proper name for what many of us think of as “sheepskin”. Shearling lambskin is the skin of lamb or sheep that is tanned with the wool still attached to the skin. We carefully select the best sheepskins with a high quality of wool.
This top grain leather has had color dyed into the hide without any pigments or protective coatings added. Only the finest of our hides are selected to be aniline dyed. The look of the leather is very delicate, the grain is clearly visible, and you will see the natural imperfections in the animal’s skin. This leather feels glove soft, breathes easily and is a pleasure to work with. Pure aniline leathers tend to develop a rich patina as they age, enhancing their beauty and elegance.
Like aniline leather, the hide or skin has been dyed but other types of colorants and pigments may also have been used. The natural top grain remains visible so you can see any natural blemishes, and the leather retains most of the softness of aniline-dyed hides. The hide has a protective coating applied to balance out the surface color and help the leather resist fading and stains. Our semi-aniline leathers have consistent color and are very durable.
Vegetable Tanned Leather
The vegetable tanned hides are also tanned in Italy using natural tannins extracted from plants. Our vegetable tanned hides are each unique, durable and more resistant to water than any other kind of leather. The hides are dyed all the way through, with no pigmented topcoat. These leathers would make beautiful handbags.
Embossed, Pigmented, Corrected Grain Leather
Hides and skins are sanded and buffed to remove blemishes and some are embossed to create a pattern or design in the hide. This process masks the original grain so it can be made to look like alligator, ostrich, and can have beautiful designs stamped in it. A special finish or topcoat is applied to the surface to give it a smooth and shiny appearance and help prevent fading and stains.
This is a top grain, aniline-dyed leather that is brushed to remove the top surface of the hide and create a soft nap similar to velvet. Sometimes confused with suede, nubuck is not suede; it is an effect done to the grain side of the hide while suede is made from the less desirable flesh side. The brushing makes the leather very soft but nubuck is more absorbent, making it prone to stains.
Sizes and Origin
Our lambskins average 5 to 7 feet and the sheepskins average 7 to 9 feet. The hides and skins are of mid-Eastern origin and all of them are tanned and beautifully finished in Italy.
Our lambskin is extraordinarily soft and thin leather, making it excellent for use in clothing and garments because it is soft, stretchy and drapes well. The texture is very much like cowhide but finer. Our leather is also beautifully suited for handbags, hats and accessories of all types.