What is Aniline Leather?

Published : 07/06/2016 14:47:05
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What is Aniline Leather? Online Guide

What is Aniline Leather? Online Guide

In the world of leather, aniline has always been synonymous with refinement and represents the best that the tanning industry has to offer.

The aniline leather is a type of finishing that keeps the surface of skin (also called full grain or top grain) uncovered and visible to the naked eye. The treatment is done through the immersion of the skin in transparent tanks that gives the product color while maintaining the typical visible pores and skin of the animal. In this guide we will see an overview of this type of finishing, its history and all necessary advice, before and after purchase of the products.


  • Very natural to the touch and sight

  • Keeps intact the characteristics and signs that make each skin unique and different from other skins


  • Delicate

  • High Price 

aniline leather

General description of the aniline leather

The aniline leather is one of the finest leathers and refined, mainly used to create valuable objects in the field of leather. We can realize for example handbags, wallets, belts, clutches or other small, high-quality objects with this kind of leather. This type of tanning gives to the skin a very natural look, it is possible to see with the naked eye on the skin of the grain in all its splendor. Why is this finishing so highly appreciated and has therefore an high price? The concept is apparently simpler than it may seem. A skin with a few finishing touches appears as it is, as "Mom has done", in other words there are no layers that hide possible defects, such as cuts, wear or stains. The flower thus discovered must be sufficiently free from defects in order to live up to a finishing so valuable and expensive like the aniline leather. This finish can be applied to both chrome tanned leather, both of vegetable tanned skins (also called vacchetta leather). To describe even better aniline treatment we can make a comparison with the wood. The wood can present veins, incisions or defects on its surface. A low-quality wood, especially full of defects must be treated with several layers of materials suitable to cover these imperfections. A wood free from defects, with refined grain designs do not require any processing to cover the defects, but rather can be admired in all its natural beauty and uniqueness. This concept is fully applied in the field of aniline leather, emphasizing how essential is having an high-quality leather in order to apply an aniline finish.

You will have in your hands a unique leather with personality, showing with pride and without any "trick" throughout its history.

Summing up the aniline leather:

  • The ultimate finishing

  • It makes the skin become unique and natural

  • High quality of the leather demand for this type of finish

Aniline: what is it?

What today we know as fine leather dye, it was discovered back in 1826 by Otto Unverdorben through the distillation of indigo decomposition products. Initially he took the name of crystalline.

Subsequently other chemicals were able to achieve this substance by means of other chemical isolation operations but each time she was given a different name. In 1834 F. Runge isolated himself from the tar, giving it the name of "Cianolo". A few years later in 1841 J. Fritzsche gave for the first time the name of aniline oil obtained by the treatment of indigo with caustic potash.

"Aniline" name comes from Sanskrit as nila (ani translated from Sanskrit) means indigo.

The first usage in the field of tanning takes place a few years later in 1856.

After this brief "historical" parenthesis we move on to the next section ...

What is Aniline Leather? Online Guide

Several types of aniline leather

If you look carefully at the photos attached to products you may notice, especially in those with higher resolution and magnification, the full flower of the skin, completely uncovered.

The same finishing can be further divided into three different categories:

  • pure aniline

  • aniline

  • semi-aniline

In the case of pure aniline, we are talking about a fully "discovered" skin that is without any application or transparent film layers on the skin itself. The flower appears completely naked, without any surface layer. This skin type of finishing is obtained through the polishing by means of a velvet wheel. The effect is particularly natural.

Classical aniline leather we've talked about previously, but remember that the treatment consists of applying a thin transparent film, without the addition of polymers or dyes.

Finally, the semi-aniline finishing skin provides a more "massive" finishing. In this case layer of some polymers and pigments are added to the transparent layer. The effect is less natural than the other two finishes, but the grain of the skin is still quite visible. The price accordingly will be lower, but the quality will remain high enough.

What is Aniline Leather? Online Guide

Maintenance tips

Until now we have spoken of the many qualities of this type of leather, which, although very expensive and sought after, also presents some aspects that should not be underestimated.

The skin naturally is possible only through minimally invasive treatments that maintain intact the grain of the leather. This feature that gives quality and value to the skin has a downside: the delicacy of the leather.

The aniline leather has a greater wear fragility and to external agents compared to other types of more processed hides covered with more layers. We do not mean that this type of skin can be damaged only "touching with hand" but needs more attention to prevent the surface from damages.

The possible defects that can result from a little attention can be:

  • Scratches caused by sharp objects such as keys or metal edges

  • Stains of coffee or other coloring matter

  • Abrasions

  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight

Also a very prolonged exposure to sunlight can damage the leather causing an unpleasant fading of the original color. We stress once again that it is an absolutely avoidable problem so it is worth buying a high-quality leather.

We do not recommend the use of aniline for products subject to external influences and impacts in general such as shoes (which are often realized), furnishings placed in passageways and working leather or sports shoes.

Summing up:

  • Be careful of Scratches

  • Do not put your leather to the sun for prolonged periods

  • It is still worth

Finally, we can underline once again the quality of an aniline leather: you will buy an unique and superior product compared to the others.

Under this page you will find links to our best aniline leather skins and hides.

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