Leather is used in many products, like shoes, garments, upholstery and, increasingly, in the automotive sector. More than 90% of all the leather that is produced is used in the manufacture of the following products: Shoes, Automotive upholstery, Upholstery for furniture, and Clothing.
Shoe upper leather accounts for the largest proportion of all the leather produced world-wide. Other types of leather such as linings, sole leather and insole leather are also used in the production of footwear. Yet upper leather alone is produced in many different ways, ranging from lightweight, fashionable shoe uppers through to hard-wearing, breathable uppers for sport shoes and heavy, water-resistant leather uppers for hiking boots or industrial footwears.
The color of shoes leather is highly related to the fashion trends. These ever changing fashion demands shoe leather to change constantly to match the changing seasons.
Unlike the past when elegant leather seats are only exclusive in luxury vehicles, now buyers of mid-range vehicles are increasingly choosing a leather interior trim. High-quality leather has a reputation for exclusively, long life and serviceability, and it is easy to maintain. Leather is used for dashboards, door panels, steering-wheel covers and gear lever handles as well as for seat covers and head rests.
The temperature inside vehicles can vary within extremely wide limits, and the automotive leather has to be able to withstand intense sunlight and substantial wear and tear.
Unlike automotive upholstery leather, upholstery leather for furniture is not subjected to extreme variations in climate. However, it still needs to meet similar standards of lightfastness as automotive leather, because it tends to be exposed to strong sunlight at different time of the day. Upholstery leather also has to be very durable and easy to maintain, and it is required to have a warm, soft handle.
A wide selection of raw stock with large differences in the structure of the skin and hide, fat contenct, etc., are used for garment leather. This diversity implies that processes have to be adapted to the particular type of raw hide in order to gain the best results. The methods employed in the processing of garment leather are much more varied than those used in the manufacture of other types of leather, goatskin and pigskin are mainly used for suede garment because of the structure of the skin, but most sheepskin is full-grain.
Garment leather has to be soft and lightweight, with a pleasant handle and reasonably weatherproof.
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