Leather is a fabric that has been around as long as people and animals have shared the planet. Men and women have worn leather since prehistoric times as a primary fabric in clothing. The fabric is made by tanning the skin, hide or pelt of a variety of animals such as: cows, sheep, calves, tigers, snakes, crocodiles, kangaroos, ostrich, and deer, etc. Tanning is the process of chemically curing the leather to make it supple, soft and pliable. There are different types of tanning processes used such as: vegetable tanning, chrome tanning, alum tanning, rawhide tanning and boiled tanning.
There are also various types of leather available such as: full grain, corrected grain, suede, buckskin, shagreen, and patent leather. The type of animal whose hide or pelt is used, the tanning method, and other processes that are used will determine the leather quality. Leather can be made both soft and pliable and rigid for armor.
Because the material has excellent abrasion and wind resistant properties, leather is used to make many articles of clothing and accessories for work wear, casual wear and fashion wear. These include items such as: coats, belts, jackets, chaps, purses, bags, pants, caps, wallets, pouches, watch straps, whips, furniture covers, shoes, vests, work boots, clogs, coats, exotic apparels, toys, luggage, scabbards, etc. Though many functional alternatives to leather have been invented by man, natural animal leather is still preferred by most people. Because leather is such a rugged and versatile material it has often been worn by people such as small airplane pilots and motorcycle police officers.
The natural fibers of leather will break down as time goes by, but it can be oiled to improve its water resistance. This will supplement the natural oils remaining in the leather itself. If you oil leather regularly it will help to keep it supple and will dramatically improve its lifespan. Leather is sold in a wide variety of thicknesses and textures. It is popular all over the world and can be decorated in a wide variety of ways such as dying, painting, carving, stamping, embossing, pyrography, and beading.