When it comes to superior home furnishings and upholstery nothing compares to the comfort and opulence of genuine leather. Available in a dizzying array of types you could be forgiven for thinking that all forms of leather are the same when it comes to quality and attributes – leather is just leather, right? Alas, no. For those who are in search of the very best when it comes to purchasing a leather sofa, Aniline leather must be your first choice. But what is Aniline Leather and why do we here at The Leather Sofa Shop insist on using it for all of our hand-crafted leather sofas and armchairs?
Aniline Leather: Naturally the Best
“Real leather” is a tag often used by retailers to lure the unwary into believing that they are purchasing the genuine article. In actual fact, this title can be applied to a range of leathers which are vastly different – some of which push the use of the word real to its limit. Whilst faux leather cannot be described in this way (due to its actually being plastic or another synthetic replacement) it can be legitimately used for Bicast leather upholstery – a reconstituted mix of both leather pulp and manmade materials. Whilst much cheaper than 100% leather this type of upholstery is nowhere near as hardwearing – tending to rip, tear and wear out incredibly quickly – leading to a very rude awakening for customers who think they’ve landed a bargain…
On the other hand pigmented or corrected grain leathers can, at least, claim to the real deal. However, these too are not to be considered premium leather products, often having been produced with additional polymers or from cheaper hides sourced from South America or even China. Corrected grain in particular is often much thicker than superior leathers, meaning that they not as flexible or comfortable. Indeed, the thickness of the leather used should never to taken as an indicator as to its quality.
Above all of these sits Aniline leather. Attractive, soft, supple and the first choice for exceptionally beautiful upholstery Aniline leather is prized for its natural appearance. Using only the very finest hides sofas and armchairs made with this premium natural material look and feel unmistakeable. Aniline is the connoisseurs’ leather of choice.
Differing Types of Aniline Leather
The basic process of creating leather (or ‘tanning’) is thousands of years old and whilst modern techniques may vary the basic premise remains the same. Aniline leather is highly prized due to the final product retaining the natural appearance of the original skin – thus only the very best of hides are selected for this process. The importance of a completely unaltered look is crucial, with the pure, innate beauty of the leather being an important consideration – especially in Full Aniline leather. As such you should expect to see a completely organic grain, complete with visible pores and blemishes. Whilst ordinary leather is often dyed to produce a consistent colour throughout a feature of Aniline leather is its wonderful variation and unique appearance – with each finished material being as individual as the separate hides used to produce them. In stark contrast to identical look associated with modern mass furniture production, this lack of uniformity marks out Aniline leather sofas and armchairs as truly ‘one of kind’.
The name of Aniline leather comes from the original aniline dyes used. Modern techniques utilise clear, transparent chemicals to ensure that the immense value placed on the beautifully natural appearance of this premium material is not lost. Full Aniline leathers are made without any additional top coating being applied – enabling the material to breathe and making them much cooler to sit on. Semi-Aniline leather is slightly different in that although it again utilises only very best hides, it has been dyed through with an additional finishing top coat applied. Finally, there is also “Pull up Aniline” which has been treated with extra oil or wax. Purposely designed to look distressed with the passing of time this type of Aniline leather is very prone to both scratching and showing the signs of wear and tear much faster than Full or Semi-Aniline leather. As such this is not a material which The Leather Sofa Shop uses.
Which Aniline Leather to Choose?
Naturally, by using only the very best hides’ Aniline leather is a premium choice for your next sofa or armchair. Being made from full grain leather, rather than the lesser quality split leather of cheaper furniture, both types are incredibly strong and hardwearing. But whilst you can be assured of the very highest quality it’s important to understand which, out of Full or Semi-Aniline leather, represents the most suitable preference for your home environment and lifestyle.
For those looking for the sumptuous feel of luxury, Full Aniline leather is a must. Without the use of any artificial coatings sofas and armchairs will have a wonderful, velvety texture and, over time, develop a unique patina which only adds to the character of the item. Pure Aniline leather also gets softer as it ages, making for a supple material which conforms to your frame as you sink into its comfortable embrace. The appearance of Full Aniline is all about allowing the natural beauty of the grain and colours of the high quality leathers used to shine through. Being porous the leather will absorb liquid spills quickly – either blending with the overall appearance over time or fading until they are no longer noticeable. Excess liquids need only to be blotted up with a dry cloth.
For those who prefer the benefits of a protective coating Semi-Aniline leather represents an excellent trade-off between plush opulence and practicality. Utilising a thin top coat to achieve a more even colouration, as well as safeguarding against the sometimes messy nature of family life, semi-Aniline leather shrugs off spills and accidents without compromising on unbeatable comfort.
Properly cared for an Aniline Leather sofa or armchair will be a joy in your home for years to come.