For our last post of the year, we return to a subject that is near and dear … leather!

Last week, we explained some of the considerations that go into choosing the appropriate leather for a glove project. We examined:

As we explained, the choice of leather greatly affects the fit and feel of your finished glove.

Today, we want to explain some basic terminology related to tanning and testing leather, to help you become familiar with the common terms and concepts you may encounter.

Leather, with infinitely varied and wonderful properties, has a language all its own!more

Leather Terms for Glove Buyers

Drum Dyed: Drum dyed means that when the leather is dyed to color in the tanning process, the pigment fully penetrates the skin. The grain is sometimes called “naked”, as there is no top finish (like spray paint) applied to hide imperfections in the leather grain.  This leather requires a better and more costly grade skin. 

WR or Water repellant: refers to a silicone based additive in the tanning process that inhibits
water absorption and diminishes color migration.

Sprayed/Finished: An acrylic coating is sprayed on the grain surface to hide leather imperfections. Sometimes used for bright fashion colors, or for more functional reasons, such as to prevent fading, strains and soiling.

Suede or Nubuck: This is a brushed treatment sometimes selected for an aesthetic texture or vintage look. Suede is often the reverse or split side of a grain leather, whereas Nubuck generally refers to the brushing on the grain side.

Leather Crocking: All glove leathers can be dyed or finished in a number of ways. In all cases there is special attention required to avoid color migration (called “crocking”), especially when leather gets wet.

Crocking can be more common with drum dyed leathers especially when colored with less costly “basic” dyes. It is essential that “developed” dyes are used when coloring drum dyed glove leathers, to reduce the possibility of crocking.

Making Gloves:  Testing Leather

Glove leather can be put through a rigorous set of quality tests, to assess a range of qualities, from color fastness to crocking, abrasion resistance, color fading, and more. In a future post, we will explain more about a variety of leather tests.

For our purposes here, we wanted to share two “quick and dirty”, ad hoc tests we do to evaluate glove leather on the fly:

  • The tape test for color fastness: Take a piece of scotch tape and apply it to the surface of leather. Pull it off and see whether color comes off, or if the leather retains its color integrity.
  • The water test: Put a piece of dyed leather in water overnight, and see how much dye leaches into the water.

Other Leather Glove Questions?

Check out our entire 5-part series on making leather gloves: The Essential Guide to Leather Glove Manufacturing.

When starting a leather glove project, we like to cover some basics before things get too far along, and hope we’ve answered some of your most common leather questions in this series of posts.

Do you have other questions?  Is there a term you’d like explained?  Read our sourcing guide/buyers checklist, let us know in the comments, or give us a call!