Genuine Leather by the hide

Genuine Leather by the hide

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How to choose the right leather for your project?

Kovi Fabrics offers a wide selection of leather qualities in hundreds of colors from some of the best leather tanneries in the world. All of our leathers are aniline-dyed in the drum, and top-coated with semi-aniline dyes to perfect the color and add additional protection. Each hide is hand-selected for quality and craftsmanship, ensuring a large, clean cutting area.

When you use leather for your upholstery project, chances are your first consideration is its color. Of course, the leather must work with your design scheme, so it's natural to make your selection based on that factor alone. However, there are many other characteristics of leather, including texture, sheen, hand and any special treatments, such as antiquing. But most important of all is how the leather will perform once upholstered, so it's imperative to make sure you are choosing the quality of leather this is appropriate for your particular project.

When you purchase leather, keep in mind that one of the beauties of leather is that each hide is unique, with individual characteristics such as neck wrinkles, imperfections and range marks, evidence that it is a natural material. The more natural the leather is, the better it is!

All Kovi leathers are upholstery grade, measuring between .9 and 1.3 mm in thickness, ideal for cutting, sewing and draping. Our leathers are a biproduct of the meat and dairy industry.

What is the leather being used for?

If you are considering leather for a residential, commercial or hospitality project that is includes a high-traffic setting or food area, you should choose a leather that is easy to maintain and well-protected against staining. While all high-quality leathers are aniline-dyed in the drum, it's the composition of its topcoat that determines its performance. The best protected leathers are coated with an opaque, oil-based dye called pigment.

Often the tannery mixes in some aniline dye in the topcoat, referred to as semi-aniline. This is done to give the leather a good amount of protection, while creating a transparency that results in a more natural-looking leather. This is an excellent choice for installations that will be subject to a moderate amount of wear-and-tear.

Pure aniline leathers, such as naked or distressed leather, suede and nubuck, are the most luxurious and natural. You may be tempted to choose a leather just because it feels simply marvelous. But beware: it may not hold up to the kind wear-and-tear it will be exposed to. Pure aniline leathers are best for low-traffic settings. They should also be kept out of direct sunlight, to avoid fading. They may also be difficult, if not impossible, to clean.

Most Protected Leathers - for automotive, commercial and residential use

Leather that is intended for automotive use is typically the best protected leather you can buy. Car seat upholstery is normally subject to lots of abuse, including passengers sliding in and out, scratches caused by outerwear, food and liquid spills, damp clothes, sunlight and high temperatures. If you are looking for the best performing leathers in our collection, your best choice is any of our leathers that are recommended for automotive use.

Each of these versatile leathers has its own distinct characteristics. Some are matte while others have a sheen; some are more textured than others; some have a two-tone finish. As a result, you have a large choice of colors and finishes in this ultra-protected category.

Well-Protected Leathers - for commercial and residential use

These leathers in our collection consists of semi-aniline leathers. These have a mixture of pigment and aniline in the topcoat, and therefore are well-protected.

Like our automotive leathers, they are fade and stain resistant and can be cleaned with non-detergent soap and water. But they represent the best of both worlds: elegant and supple, yet durable and resistant. These are ideal leathers to use for all kinds of residential, commercial and hospitality installations.

Leathers with the Least Amount of Protection - for residential use

Of all the leathers in the Kovi leather collection, these are the two with the least amount of superficial protection.

Cowsuede is the center split of the hide. It is aniline-dyed in the drum but does not receive a topcoat after the drum-dyeing process. Although it has a silky nap, it does not have the same protection as grain leathers with a topcoat. Even when it is treated with an agent such as Scotchguard, suede is susceptible to staining, and is particularly vulnerable to oil and grease.

Our Classic distressed leather is treated with heat reactive waxes that gives the leather a two-tone effect and causes it to lighten when stretched. This type of leather is meant to start looking aged and worn immediately upon use, so it easily stains, scuffs and scratches. It's great leather to use in a rustic environment, but you should be aware that this type of leather has very little in the way of protection. When the leather begins to lighten and darken with use, it is doing exactly what it is meant to do.

Pay Attention to Hide Size

Each quality of leather in our collection has a standard range of hide size, measured by its total area in square feet. Because each hide is irregularly shaped, has appendages and is narrower in the neck than in the butt area, not every square foot is usable. While a full-size cowhide averages 54 square feet, or the equivalent of 3 yards of fabric, some qualities have a naturally smaller average size. Suede, for example, measures only 20 s.f. on average, so if you use if for a sofa, you may end up with more seams than intended. We recommend that you check with your upholsterer to make sure you are purchasing the right amount of leather.

Our Customer Service team is standing by to answer any questions you might have about our quality of leathers and help you make the right choice for your project.