Winchester Leathers Ltd | Online Chesterfield Furniture Retailer

All about leather

Leather and wood are the only materials that get better and more luxurious with age. No other material is so durable as leather, it is easy to care for and natural. Because leather "breathes," it won't pick up on surrounding room temperatures, whether too cold or too hot. As your leather furniture matures it will crease and soften to look better and become more comfortable the more you use it. Inevitably there are variations in the grain and texture, these are not faults but help to show the authenticity of the real thing .

Leather begins with an animal hide that is tanned or preserved. The first quality issue is where leather is taken from the hide. The best leather is always top grain, from the topmost layer of the surface. Less expensive and weaker leathers, including suede, are taken from lower layers or splits of the hide.

The quality of leather is also based on the dyeing process. Soft and supple aniline leathers are considered the most luxurious and stylish, but they are not necessarily the most practical option.

Aniline is a transparent liquid dye (and natural derivative) used to colour high quality hides. These dyes provide permanent colour that also allows natural grain and markings to show through. Caution: The word "aniline" is used in a couple of ways, which can be confusing when you're just learning.

Pure aniline leathers are created from the highest quality top grain and are best for adult use. No additional pigment or surface treatments are applied after the dyeing process, so the quality of the leather must be outstanding. Like silk or hand-woven fabric, pure anilines are prized for their natural look and soft hand. Less than 5% of the world's leathers qualify as pure aniline... explaining their high cost.

Semi-anilines are soft leathers that are also more practical and easily maintained, making them a safer family option. In addition to aniline dying, these hides are given added colour and/or protective finishes. Surface corrections are also made to correct imperfections and pigmenting. These are a safer option, but not as heavy duty as corrected grain leathers.

Corrected grain leathers are also top grain-but not quite as flawless as the most expensive hides. They are buffed to remove unattractive surface markings before colour pigment is added, then embossed with a natural grain pattern. The resulting surface is somewhat stiffer than pure aniline leather, although it will soften with use.

Nubuck and suede are both buffed for a soft, velvety nap, but there's a big difference. Suede is made from splits, so it's a less expensive and less durable leather product. Nubuck is aniline dyed top grain leather, so it lasts longer and shows more natural markings. Because of its nap, Nubuck often receives a protective coating to guard against stains and markings.

Suede isn't the only product made from splits. Finishing techniques like embossing or antiquing can be applied to splits to make them resemble top grains. Such leather is less expensive, but does not have the same hand or strength as true top grains.

Our leather is fashioned from hand-picked, hand cut, soft, smooth and supple hides to express the elegance and creative flair of our talented designers. Remember - with leather, Nature also takes a hand in design, we use as many as 6 hides for an average suite, with each one bearing the individual imprint of its original owner, therefore the suite that you have bought has its own exclusive character which is unique to you.

Leather is forever and unlike many 'trendy' fabrics, its qualities are fully tried, tested and proven. It never dates. Never goes out of fashion and its tough and hardwearing that its impressive good looks won't deteriorate with the years. Along with the many thousands of contented customers, you too will have many years of sheer enjoyment and add classic luxury to your home.

Leather a Miracle of Nature

Leather has been used by man since the dawn of time and now in the age of the modem techno world we continue to do so. All attempts to replace leather have ended in failure, what other material could spend 200 years on the ocean floor as in the Mary Rose and remain intact, there is only one - that miracle of nature REAL LEATHER. Leather is made up of millions of fibres which permit air to circulate naturally, therefore allowing the leather to 'Breathe'. The surface is not affected by heat or cold. Leather is both comfortable and pleasant to touch.

Natural Characteristics

Leather has many natural characteristics that gives the furniture its very special character. On some parts of the hide, the grain will have a tight appearance; whilst other areas will more loose, but equally hard-wearing. Characteristic marks found illustrate the unique beauty of leather:

  • DUNG MARKS - these are seen in hide as more textured areas than normal
  • FLY MARKS - Occasionally cattle are attacked by small insects which leave the marks of their bites in the hides, these occur as tiny cuts on the leather surface
  • CREASES - these appear in the neck areas of the hide, Because of their heavy grained effect, they will appear as textured lines in the smooth hide
  • SCARS - are caused in many ways for example cattle being caught on barbed wire fences, pests or horns of other cattle, in its healed form the new skin is as strong as the remainder of the fide and these marks help to differentiate real, natural leather from its substitutes
  • GROWTH MARKS - reveal the age of the leather, as with scars, growth marks really do show off the full bodied character of real leather.

No effort is made to conceal any natural flaws such as these in the leather, in fact highlighting them enhances and gives the finished product that real antique look that is so characteristic with real leather furniture.

Real Leather is full of natural charac­te­ristics, the classical finished look, together with its soft textured feel gives hours of endless pleasure. All our staff pride themselves in having captured the complete fullness of real leather, along with its looks which are sure to give delight and the maturity of the leather as it ages will give you satisfaction for many years to come.

Using both applied finishes and hand-rubbing, each piece of wood is finished to highlight the natural beauty of the solid wood itself. Just as no two trees are alike, no piece of wood will look just like another. Variations in colour and grain patterns are directly related to where the individual pieces were cut from tree. Natural markings such as knots, mineral streaks and gum pockets have no effect on the furniture's durability. They are proof that the furniture is indeed truly solid wood. Like leather, solid wood mellows and ages with time and grows more beautiful through the years.