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Eliem Fashion by Elizabeth Maria

Difference between hide and leather

Difference between hide and leather


If at the moment you are thinking that there are some differences between leather and hide, I suggest you stop for a moment and keep reading this article very carefully, because today I’ve decided to explain to you what the real difference between leather and hide is, to dispel this myth once and for all.

You should know that there is really no difference between leather and hide, as it is a simple matter of sets and subsets.

As means that, in the past, the term hide was referred to a very stiff, vegetable-tanned leather used mainly for making soles of shoes, whereas today instead indicates any kind of vegetable tanned hide.

The term leather, on the other hand, refers to all the materials derived from the dermis of an animal, among which the leather.

However, some argue that the term hide is aiming to a stiff leather, while the term leather refers to thin, soft leather.

Otherwise, some manufacturing sectors believe that the term hide referred to vegetable-tanned leather, while leather refers to chromium tanned.

So, for sake of clarity, now I’ll give you the definition of hide and leather so that you can better clarify your ideas, but first let me explain to you the meaning of the term tanned.

Meaning of tanned

Tanning is referred to as a chemical/physical process able to make the leather rot-proof and suitable for processing.

In specific, it’s one of the processes that lead to the finished product starting from the raw skin, that is the discarded product of the meat industry as far as bovine hides are concerned, which represent about 70% of the leather that we used in the manufacturing sector.

In addition, there are two types of tanning, namely:

  • Chromium tanning: The most commonly used type of tanning, as around 85% of all hide produced in the world are made by chromium tanned;
  • Vegetable tanning:  this is the most famous and traditional way of tanning and is the only one able to give the leather unique properties, the versatility of use, and the uniqueness of the product.

Difference between hide and leather

And now, to conclude, let me give you a clear and concrete definition of  the term “hide” and “leather”:

  • The term hide aims to a very stiff leather, processed through the process of vegetable tanning, and used to realized shoe soles. Today, however, the term hide is used to indicate any kind of leather vegetable tanned leather;
  • The term leather, instead, is used to indicate all types of leather tanned in any way, such as chrome, vegetable, alum, or synthetic tanning.

However, in spite of these small differences between the two materials, both have elements in common in relation to the production phase.

In fact, hide and leather has to undergone specific processing  steps, such as:

  • Riviera works: chemical and mechanical operations carried out prior to tanning;
  • Tanning;
  • Retanning: involves a dying and (sometimes) fatliquoring stage depending on the intended use of the leather and market demands;
  • Finishing work: retouches applied to semi-finished leather bags.

Click here and discover our Eliem Venice leather bags.


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