Understanding the changing appearance of leather

Leather is a natural material that "ages" gracefully over the years. As external and mechanical factors leave their mark on the surface of leather, "patina" appears - a hallmark that attests to the quality of the leather but is also a characteristic that leather lovers find attractive. Patina is the white, slightly shiny, almost marble-like streaks that form on the surface of the leather due to scratches, oil from the hands, the sun's rays, and other factors.

Patina is one of the leather appearance modifications highly sought after by vintage leather enthusiasts, but some modifications are less appealing and often avoided by leather buyers. Here are some examples:

Leather can crack due to low humidity levels

Cracks can appear due to improper handling of the leather - either it was dried too hard or poorly cared for. The thousands of tiny pores on the skin's surface react to the surrounding moisture level - if the level is too low, the skin releases moisture through the pores, dries out, and subsequently, cracks develop. To avoid cracking, the skin must be kept hydrated and supple, and the humidity in the room must be controlled. If you want to buy a good quality leather bag, ask where it was produced because the most skilled artisans will never skip any leather processing step.

Leather can turn white due to high humidity levels

At the opposite end of the spectrum, if the humidity level is too high, the leather can develop mold on its surface and take on a green or even white color and a dull, stained appearance. For craftsmen at the beginning of the journey or those who do not follow the correct leather processing steps, this mold can be confused with spew, also called fatty bloom, which occurs when the fats/oils from the leather come to the surface and crystallize in contact with air. Always check the bags you buy; if you think they are too hydrated, return them.

Note: Handbags can also develop mold due to incorrect storage. Check our guide on how to care for your handmade bags to avoid damaging them.

Leonthe Luxury Handbags

Leather can turn green

This problem occurs when the skin becomes discolored due to the low quality of the faded dye or perhaps exposure to the sun for extended periods, like black-dyed leather.

Leather can get sticky 

In some cases, such as patent or bi-cast leather products, the leather can become sticky due to the weight of the finishes. However, there are other cases in which it can be unpleasant to the touch:

  • Improper tanning – one of the steps in leather tanning is removing salts and treating the leather with chemicals. If the finishing/tanning is not done correctly, the natural pores of the leather can remain clogged with wax residues.
  • Accumulation of dirt – the skin must be cleaned regularly with a cotton towel soaked in water without putting pressure on the skin. During the cleansing process, the natural oils and dirt on the face will be removed, preventing the skin from becoming sticky.
  • High level of humidity

Leather can change its smell

Natural leather is recognized for its specific smell, the characteristic that also determines its quality. Leather smells can differ depending on the article due to the differences in the tanning process and the types of dyes, treatments and substances used that penetrate the pores and fix their smell. There are some cases where the smell is unpleasant due to leather that is not of good quality or that has been poorly tanned - as a rule, if the tanning agents and residual chemicals have not been rinsed off, a strong, unnatural, and disturbing smell can appear.

Certain types of leather, especially goat and camel leather, have a strong natural smell, rejected by most people. The skin can also absorb odors from the external environment through the pores, such as perfume, smoke, chemicals, and food odors.

The leathers we use to manufacture LEONTHE have a traceability certificate and they are processed by the most recognized craftsmen in Italy in a workshop with three generations of experience on the market.

LEONTHE perfectly mixes timeless design, precious materials, and minimalist accessories - all while keeping up with the highest quality standards.