What is Split Leather?
When researching the different types of leather, you may come across a particular variety known as Split Leather. Based on the name alone; it’s difficult to determine what exactly this means because very few products are made using leather splits. If you’re still scratching your head trying to understand what is split leather, keep reading for a breakdown of the term.
What is Split Leather?
Split leather definition is the bottom part of the leather after being split. It’s sometimes called suede and has a nappy appearance. It’s more commonly found in work gloves, upholstery, furniture and shoe making. When the leather is first removed from the hide of an animal, it’s extremely thick. So, the first thing we do with the leather is split it cross-sectionally into layers. The bottom layer is made into what we call “Split Leather”
Split or Genuine leather usually has an artificial layer applied to the surface and is embossed with a leather grain. Leather split is also used to create suede. The strongest suede is usually made from ‘grain’ splits (that have the grain completely removed) or from the ‘flesh’ split that has been shaved to the desired thickness. Suede is “fuzzy” on both sides and it had its moments of fame depending on the fashion trends.
Split Leather has several different advantages:
- – Split-leather has high abrasion resistance: This has to do with its dense fibers and how they lock together.
- – No synthetic product offers anything close to its level of abrasion resistance.
- – Good flexibility compared to grain leather.
Although split grain leather is commonly used for suede, and even though it can be sanded down and embossed with a graining pattern to make it look like natural leather, most good manufacturers do not use split cow leather for upholstery at all. Leather split may have other uses, but because it is made of the lower layer of the hide, it is much weaker and less durable than top grain leather.
As the quality of a split grain leather is lower than the top grain leather, there are rules about the use of the terms. But the rules are different in almost every country. Some countries don`t allow to label split leather as “leather”. Some allow it to be called leather, but only when further details make it clear that it’s a leather split.
It is indisputable that a split cow leather does not have the same quality features as a top-grain leather. If a split cowhide leather is coated in such a way that it looks like a grain leather, the end user cannot recognise the quality. The leather is then like a veneered wood of lower quality. The upper layer with smooth leather optic is then not leather, but only a coating and the grain is created by an embossing process.
Therefore, labelling requirements are fair and acceptable from the end-user’s viewpoint and split cowhide leather should be explicitly and clearly declared.
So, what types of products are made using Split Leather? While there are always exceptions to this rule, you’ll generally find that work gloves and some boots/shoes feature it. Because the quality is sub-par when compared to top-grain and full-grain, however, it’s rarely used in the production of jackets, belts, handbags or other accessories.