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Exotic Leathers: A Primer

Exotic leather is a luxury option for fashion conscious wearers that are looking to distinguish themselves from the humdrum of everyday leathers. By everyday leather, I would mean the hides that are derived from cattle that have been domesticated - or other local, easily available animals.

Everyday leathers are great for durability, flexibility and finish - and when combined with expert workmanship and craft, can create excellent products. I mean, who in their right minds would call a calf-leather Oxford shoes from Berluti anything less than exemplary?

However, for those seeking a still higher level of luxury and fashion, exotic leather provide an exclusive finish and premium feel.

What is “Exotic Leather”?

Unfortunately, there is no industry accepted definition of exotic leather.

Leather derived from exotic animals may well be called exotic leather - with some degree of discretion. The leather should be practically usable, and capable of being produced legally on an economic scale.

exotic leather
Exotic Leather Samples

Another common theme that runs in exotic leather animals is that they are comparatively rare, almost always wild and undomesticated.

Also, a lot of the exotic leather varieties derive from cold-blooded animals - fishes and reptiles.

For exotic leather hides, typically, a relatively smaller proportion is actually used - especially when compared to cow hides.

Exotic Leather Examples

Certain varieties of leather have been universally recognized by the trade as exotic leather. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

- Alligator
- Crocodile
- Lizards (some varieties)
- Snake (several varieties)
- Python
- Anaconda
- Ostrich
- Shark
- Stingray
- Eel
- Elephant
- Seal
- Kangaroo

Note for Connoisseurs

The trade in exotic leather products is very highly regulated with robust legal and industry standards to ensure the delicate balance between demand and supply.

Those who really value luxury enjoy it responsibly. When buying an exotic leather product, connoisseurs will carefully establish that the leather has been sourced ethically and legally.


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