In leather coat design, there are two main types of leather that are used for the high end coats. The first is lambskin, and the second is cowhide. Both materials are genuine animal skins and considered a part of the leather family, but each has distinct characteristics. It is important to explore the differences before you go out to buy a leather coat.
Lambskin is great for leather coat construction because it stretches well and tends to reshape after wearing, and is a fabric with a “memory” for its original shape. It is often made into high end leather coats and has a classic and fashionable look. Lambskin is often more expensive than cowhide when made into leather coats.
Another option in leather coats is a material known as lamb touch cow or cow nappa style leather. It is made of cow, and is used for sportier leather coats as well as skirts, pants and vests.
Cowhide is very tough wearing and durable. It is also the heaviest of leathers, with noticeable texture and grain. It is mostly used for outerwear leather coats, weekend casual wear, and biker style leather coats.
To tell if you have a quality leather coat, no matter the material, first take a visual assessment. A very good way to tell if you are purchasing a garment of high quality leather is to look at the seams and needle marks on your leather coat. If they seem to be a different color than the garment itself this could mean that the garment is dyed on the surface only – surface-dyed as opposed to aniline-dyed leather, which is dyed on both sides making the garment more finished and valuable.
Surface-dyed leather is much different to aniline-dyed leather because surface-dying is like adding a coat of paint to wood. It merely covers up the wood’s natural surface and defects. Aniline-dyed leather is like adding varnish to wood, varnish allows the woods natural beauty to shine through by penetrating the surface instead of covering it up. The natural beauty of high-quality leather is visible through a sheer, rich aniline dye.
Next, check your leather coat for overall color and craftsmanship. While all skins, of all animal varieties, contain some natural marks, there should not be any large or unsightly blemishes on the leather coat you are considering. A good manufacturer of leather apparel will not use leather pieces with these types of imperfections.
In addition, smell the leather coat you are considering before you buy it. The garment should smell like leather, not chemicals, and should not have been treated with Azo dye, which has been proven to be toxic and cause skin reactions.
Feel any leather coat before you buy it, assessing the softness of the leather. Good quality leather should be soft, smooth, and free of any bumps. It should feel flexible, not dry, and should never be hard to bend.