Friday, 24 April 2009


Once upon a time, leather handbags were solely the preserve of the well-heeled but nowadays leather is much more affordable and people who have never had the pleasure of leather before, find it is within their budget. So what exactly is leather and why is it so desirable? The dictionary definition of leather says simply this: animal skin treated in order to preserve it. However, in the hands of the designer, with colourful dyes and unique finishes, leather becomes the ultimate fashion accessory and suddenly you have the latest 'IT' bag.

There are many types of leather to choose from and prices vary quite considerably depending on the brand name, quality, grade (thickness) and country of origin. It is generally accepted that the best leather handbags in the world are made in Italy and that calfskin, the soft leather from a young cow, is considered one of the best leathers worldwide. Therefore, any lady carrying an Italian leather bag made from calfskin does have a certain kudos. Calfskin is currently used by many major Italian fashion houses such as Nicoli.

The majority of leather handbags are made from cow hide, which is leather with a slightly courser grain from a more mature cow. Where leather is described as FULL-GRAIN, this will be the most expensive and highest quality leather as it remains in its most original state, an unaltered hide with the hair removed showing the full grain of the animal skin. If you prefer the surface of your leather to be as smooth as possible, then choose soft, supple NAPPA leather. Alternatively, if you love texture, choose SUEDE which is the soft underside of the leather which has been buffed into a fine velvety nap.

As leather is a natural product, it will have individual attributes such as shade, grain, variation and natural markings which add to its charm and beauty. The minor variations that appear on the surface of leather are features which distinguish the genuine product from its synthetic imitations. You will be able to see these features much more easily on light coloured handbags than on darker ones. Some handbag designers go out of their way to emphasise these natural markings and some even go a step further by creating their own.

Designers are constantly taking leather to new and exciting realms by adding a creative finish. Current fashion favourites include the un-ironed, creased effect of WASHED-LEATHER, the highly glossy PATENT-LEATHER and the extreme designs of EMBOSSED LEATHER, where a pattern is pressed into the hide using high pressure, often used to create the appearance of another skin such as crocodile. Another effect which is much admired is DISTRESSED-LEATHER whereby the leather is designed to scratch and mark easily but will blend in time adding to the character of the bag. CRACKED-LEATHER is created by applying a chemical to the surface of the leather which acts like crackle-glaze and produces a unique cracked pattern. Such techniques have been popularized by designers Catwalk Collection Handbags and Oriano Leathergoods. OILED-LEATHER with its matte surface and dark sultry looks has become very popular amongst the work fraternity with Visconti being the market leader in fashionable bags for the work place.

Lambskin is one of the softest leathers you can get and comes from either a young sheep or lamb. Handbags company Marta Ponti are the ultimate fashion experts when it comes to lambskin, producing the most exquisite, butter-soft leather designer handbags which are positively sensuous to the touch. BRUSHED-LEATHER is a unique designer effect which they have perfected with stunning results.

You can view all the these leathers at

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