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Difference between Cow leather and Sheep/ Lamb leather - Lambskin vs Cowhide

Posted by Avi grondin on


Differences between Cow leather and Sheep/Lamb leather- Lambskin vs Cowhide


What is cowhide or cow leather?


Cowhide, a product of the food industry from cattle, it is the natural hide or skin of a cow. Cow leather, the most widely used leather, is actually processed cowhide.


Since beef is consumed all over the world, abundant raw skins are available for leather production , thus making cow leather affordable. About 65 to 70 percent of the world’s population produces cow leather which is used to make shoes , wallets, clothing such as jackets and belts, car seats, furniture upholstery, and saddles.


What is sheepskin/lambskin and sheep/lamb leather?


Sheepskin, sometimes also called as shearling is the sheep hide with fur. Without the fur, this skin is called sheep or lamb leather. When sheepskin is tanned (processed) in order to create sheepskin shearling, the fleece or fur is kept
intact. 


Considering its warmth and softness, sheepskin shearling leather is used for seating areas of chairs, and winter clothing such as jackets , gloves, caps. Furthermore, the fleece of lambskin is 100 percent protein, antibacterial by nature hence it can be used to protect wounded skin.

Lambskin or Sheep leather is the leather processed after its fleece or fur is removed from the hide which gets processed further to make wool fabric. So, lambskin leather would be the leather alone without its fur attached. Its the more common form of leather seen. 

Based on certain factors related to utility, here are the key differences between cow leather and sheepskin leather :


1) Feel (Softness) - Generally, the method for tanning and processing used on the leather dictates how soft and supple it is. Cow leather has a relatively rougher feel and retains its shape. So, it is very useful in making leather accessories such as handbags and wallets.


Lambskin leather is usually easy to identify by touch because it feels buttery soft and delicate. For instance, Aniline dyed leather made from lambskin is extremely soft and is the premium choice of leather for garment making. With the passage of time, lambskin leather gets even softer and smoother.


2) Comfort - The weight of leather determines its level of comfort, which is an important factor in leather garments. The thinner and lighter the leather, the more supple it generally is.
Cow leather, by nature, is tougher and more durable and also heavier. It also tends to adapt to the shape of the owner's body. So, the more one wears it, the more comfortable one would find it. This is called "breaking in" of the leather. These properties of cow leather make it a perfect choice for motorcycle jackets which is garment worn for protection or just heavy duty leather jackets. 


Motorcycle grade cow leather is at least 1.3 millimeters thick and provides excellent abrasion protection, especially in critical areas, such as the shoulders, elbows, back, knees and buttocks.

Lambskin leather is more supple and also weighs much less than cow leather. Due to these traits, lambskin leather feels much more comfortable for fashionable garments such as pants, skirts, trench coats, and stylish, casual jackets. Also, since lambskin leather can stretch easily. Lambskin is a popular choice for gloves where comfort and a soft hand is of importance. 


3) Durability - The degree of durability of leather determines its scope of usage.
Cow leather is undoubtedly more durable than its sheep counterpart because of its dense fibers. Cow leather is thicker, more rugged and less likely to tear. These traits make it an obvious choice for professional motorsport apparel. Besides being very strong and less prone to cracking, cow leather is resistant to heat, and dirt. So, it becomes a useful raw material for daily use purses, bags, belts, hats, and boots.

Furthermore, due to the heavy use involved, cow leather is an excellent choice for home furnishings such as rugs, couches, cushions, and chairs. It's durable and ages very well.


Lambskin leather, on the other hand, is not as durable as cow leather and is more
vulnerable to wear and tear. So, one must take time to protect and store lambskin leather garments properly, and also refrain from storing close to anything that could stain them immediately. The delicate nature of  lambskin leather finds its use in making high-end items such as fashionable garments, intricately woven purses, and handbags and gloves.


4) Versatility - Cowhide can be processed to be just almost as soft and supple as lambskin. Premium Aniline and semi aniline leathers are used in luxury garments or high end furniture where comfort and softness is an important factor.

Cowhide can also be processed to be hard a rigid which is useful in making shoes and bags where it needs to hold its shape. Therefore, cowhide wins as a very versatile leather. 


5) Maintenance - One can maintain leather easily if it is sufficiently resistant to external and environmental factors. Low-maintenance leather also requires less care and can be stored easily.


Cow leather is far more resistant to dirt, heat, and moisture than lambskin leather. It outlasts any fabric.


Lambskin leather, though not as resistant to the environment can still outlast any fabric. The disadvantage in regards to the maintenance of lambskin leather is that it stretches over time. So,garments that are worn frequently will stretch over time, creating sagging effect if not hung and stored properly. In order to prevent such sagging, one must make sure to store lambskin leather garments with an appropriate coat hanger.


Humans have used animal hides and leathers since ages. Cow and sheepskin leathers are two of the most prominent materials used for making a variety of utility goods, ranging from home furnishings to clothing to accessories.


While choosing between products made of cow leather and sheepskin leather, it’s important to consider the final use of the products. Keeping in mind the key differences between these two types of leathers, one can have the right products for the right purpose.



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