Leather and Colorway Guide

This page is to help you choose leather type(s) and colors for your made-to-order item. Information about the leathers offered follows, proceeded by an FAQ and Suggested Colorways.

The Leather

Several leathers from some of the best known and highest regarded French, Italian, and Japanese tanneries are offered.

For general information about leather types and finishes, please see my Leather Guide.

Chèvre Crispé

Chèvre Crispé comes from century-old French tannery, Relma, which specializes in vegetable tanned goatskin for use in bookbinding and luxury leather goods. Chèvre Crispé has exceptionally nice, yet subtle texture, vibrant colors, and is lightly finished for better color fastness, as well as providing some scratch and water resistance. It works great for both the interior and exterior of items.

Article:Chèvre CrispéType:Goatskin
Origin:FranceTannery:Relma
Tannage:VegetableFinish:Semi-aniline
Temper:MediumAging:Gradual dulling of texture
L to R: Light Green, Light Gray, Bordeaux, Black, Red
L to R: Violet, Navy, Green, Orange
L to R: Natural, Tan, Light Brown, Brown, Chocolate
L to R: Cream, Yellow

Shell Cordovan

Shell Cordovan is an equine leather that’s prized for its resilience, its luster, and its graceful aging.

I stock shells from renowned Japanese tannery, Shinki-Hikaku, as well as those from dyeing specialist, Leder Ogawa*. I believe these two companies produce the most refined and beautiful shells on the market today.

Shinki shells have a glossy finish thanks to undergoing a glazing process, where the leather is polished with glass. The colors have pleasant natural variation and subtle marbling.

Leder Ogawa’s shells are hand dyed and finished. Compared to Shinki’s, they are less glossy, the colors are more uniform and have fantastic depth.

Shell wears extremely well over time and, like other vegetable tanned leathers, develops a lot of character with use.

It should be one of your top contenders if you’re considering a smooth exterior for your item.

Note: While shell is an exceptionally durable material, it is not a resistant material. Its waxy surface will scratch fairly easily. However, scratches will become less apparent and blend into the character of the leather as it ages. Another bright point is that it responds to reconditioning (i.e. scratches, etc. buffed out) very well.

*Leder Ogawa is not a tannery. It performs the dyeing and finishing on Shinki-Hikaku “crusts”, or unfinished shells.

Article:Shell CordovanType:Shell Cordovan
Origin:JapanTannery:Shinki-Hikaku
Tannage:VegetableFinish:Aniline
Temper:FirmAging:Absorbs character from use, darkens
Shinki Shell Cordovan
L to R: Natural, Whiskey, Antique, Cognac, Burgundy
Shinki Shell Cordovan
L to R: Red, Camel, Olive, Navy, Black
Leder Ogawa Cordovan
Ogawa Red, Blue, Navy, Green, Violet

Museum Calf

This is one of the most recognizable leathers in the world, thanks to its extensive use in fine footwear. Museum calf is characterized by it’s mottled color. Its feel is soft and silky, but thanks to mineral tanning, it is more resistant to scratches and water than its vegetable tanned counterparts.

Article:Museum CalfType:Calfskin
Origin:ItalyTannery:Ilcea
Tannage:MineralFinish:Aniline
Temper:Medium firmAging:Darkens somewhat, develops sheen
Bordeaux and Black
Dark Brown and Brown
Green and Navy

Sherpa

Sherpa is buffalo calfskin produced by French Tannery, Remy Carriat. Compare to other bovine leathers, it has a more varied and interesting grain. It is also an extremely tough leather–the most resistant in the lineup. Despite its toughness, it still retains very nice feel. Works great for both the interior or exterior of items and there’s plenty of colors to choose from.

Note: There grain size can vary from hide to hide and also on where on the hide it’s cut. If you have a preference for smaller (more subtle) or larger grain, please add your request to the order notes.

Article:SherpaType:Buffalo Calf
Origin:FranceTannery:Remy Carriat
Tannage:MineralFinish:Semi-aniline
Temper:Medium softAging:Develops slight sheen
L to R: Natural, London Tan, Brown
L to R: Green, Olive
L to R: Teal, Mint
Garnet
L to R: Bone, Taupe, Gray
L to R: Blue, Orange, Turquoise
L to R: Cognac, Coffee Brown
L to R: Violet, Black
Red

Pueblo

Pueblo is classic Italian vacchetta, vegetable tanned cowhide, with a twist. Its grain has been gently sueded, which gives it that beautiful vintage look.

It will develop lots of character with use. Colors will darken and fibers will compact and begin developing a sheen quite quickly. If you’re a patina lover, this won’t disappoint.

Article:PuebloType:Cowhide
Origin:ItalyTannery:Badalassi Carlo
Tannage:VegetableFinish:Aniline leather with sueded surface
Temper:MediumAging:Color darkens, develops sheen, absorbs character from use
L to R: Olive, Yellow, Violet

L to R: Navy, Denim, Ortensia
L to R: Cognac, Tobacco

Vono

Vono is traditional pit-tanned cowhide from Japanese tannery, Tochigi. The pit-tanning is said to give extra toughness to the resulting leather and Vono does indeed feel very robust. This leather will show interesting character as it ages, but will patina slower than your typical veg tan. The dye is also beautifully done with nice depth of color.

Article:VonoType:Cowhide
Origin:JapanTannery:Tochigi
Tannage:VegetableFinish:Glazed aniline
Temper:Very firmAging:Color darkens and absorbs character from use
Navy
London Tan
Mint
Black
Red
Orange
Tochigi Vono Chestnut

Exotic Leathers

Exotic leathers are not fully integrated with the site. If you wish to purchase an item made with exoti leather, please contact me for the link.

Sharkskin

I stock blue shark sharkskin sourced from Japanese tanneries. Deep ridges in the skin give it its characteristic look. Despite being one of the toughest leathers there is, this sharkskin has a wonderful soft and luxurious texture.

As of this writing, I have matte, nubuck, and antique finishes on hand.

Antique finish. L to R: brown, blue, red
Matte finish. L to R: bordeaux, navy, gray, black
Nubuck finish. L to R: mocha, green, gray, bordeaux

Python

Along with crocodile and ostrich, python is one of the quintessential exotics. The texture is quite striking from the array of scales, giving it its dimensional look. Unlike most snakeskins, python is actually quite durable, although the scales may fold somewhat with use.

Stock python is sourced from Japan and has a soft matte finish.

L to R: brown, petrol, green, black

FAQ

What leather should I choose for the exterior of my item?

If you prefer the most natural looking and feeling leathers, you’d do well to choose Pueblo, Vono, or Shell Cordovan. Thanks to vegetable tanning, these leathers will all show considerable patina over time. Unique character will develop as the item is used and colors will darken as the item ages.

If you, instead, prefer your item to look newer for longer, opt for Sherpa, Museum Calf, Chèvre Crispé, or Sharkskin. These leathers will resist scratches and water much better and generally won’t see significant change of color.

Unsure of your preference? Not to worry. They are all excellent leathers. Let your eye be your guide.

How about interior leather choice?

Please see recommended interiors below:

Exterior ChoiceRecommended interior
Chèvre CrispéChèvre Crispé, Sherpa, Vono
SherpaSherpa, Chèvre Crispé, Vono
PuebloPueblo, Vono
VonoChèvre Crispé, Pueblo, Sherpa, Vono*
Museum CalfSherpa, Chèvre Crispé, Museum Calf*
Shell CordovanChèvre Crispé, Pueblo, Vono*, Sherpa
Sharkskin, PythonVono, Sherpa, Chèvre Crispé, Pueblo

*Pockets only. Item is best lined with Chèvre Crispé or Sherpa. Appropriate lining will be chosen by maker. Any preferences, can be added to the order notes.

What’s the most durable leather?

There are no fragile leathers in the lineup. All are robust enough to endure years of typical use.

That said, shell cordovan and sharkskin have the reputation of being two of the most resilient there are.

For leathers suitable for an item’s interior, Sherpa and Vono would the toughest.

Note that durability and resistance are not the same thing. While shell cordovan is exceptionally durable, it can scratch quite easily. On the other hand, leathers like sharkskin or buffalo are quite good at resisting wear.

Are the leathers full grain?

Yes, all the leathers offered are full grain except, of course, shell cordovan which is not made from the outer layer of the skin.

What leather is the easiest to care for?

None of the main leathers require much maintenance. For leather that’s easiest to clean and keep clean, opt for Sherpa, Chèvre Crispé, and Museum Calf, roughly in that order.

Can you use a different leather than what’s offered?

Sure. If it’s a leather you saw on my social media, please just get in touch before placing your order. If you have something else in mind, please provide as much information as possible and I’ll let you know if that’s something I can use.

Can you use multiple colors or leathers in the interior?

Certainly. Just let me know in the order notes what you’d like. There’s no extra charge to do this unless using a more expensive leather.

Colorways

While there are near endless possibilities for color combinations, many of the nicest looking examples will:

  1. Use a lighter leather for the interior.
  2. Use thread that is either the same color or lighter than both leathers.

There are, naturally, many exceptions. In the case of exotic leathers, for example, it is generally best to match the thread to the exterior regardless of interior color.

Note: The method of hand sewing I employ, saddle stitching, doesn’t allow for different color exterior and interior thread, as the needle passes through both sides of the perimeter.

Suggested Colorways

Greens

Suggested pairings: tan, brown, gray, yellow, orange, bordeaux

Green Chèvre, chestnut Buttero, and green thread. This breaks the first rule of using lighter thread, but, in this case, the green thread is not too offensive on the chestnut interior, while allowing for a clean exterior. While I would still prefer to match the thread to the interior, this is no doubt, a very pleasing colorway.
Petrolio and tobacco Pueblo with dark brown thread.
Green Ogawa Shell Cordovan with natural Dakota and beige thread.

Blues

Suggested pairings: orange, brown, tan, gray, yellow, green

Blue Chèvre, smooth orange interior, and orange thread. Blue and orange are complementary colors, so this combination really pops.
By using an orange-y brown, this is a subtler version of the previous colorway. This wallet is made with navy and olmo Pueblo and light orange thread.
Ortensia (Turquoise) Pueblo with chestnut Buttero and matching thread
Blue Ogawa Shell with denim Pueblo and matching thread

Brown

Recommended pairings: natural, brown

A natural interior (using Dakota leather here) is a good pairing for nearly any exterior color, but none moreso than a medium shade of brown. This wallet has cognac shell cordovan from Shinki-Hikaku on the exterior sewn up with beige thread. I would recommend off-white thread for this and similar colorways. The beige thread here blends into the natural leather and also is a good look.

Dark Brown

Suggested pairings: taupe, natural, orange, yellow, blue, green

Dark brown chevre paired with taupe Buttero. A perfect combo. This wallet has thread matched to the exterior, which works fine as the thread does not clash too much on the taupe interior, although I would still recommend matching the thread to the interior.
Dark brown and orange. A light brown thread also works well here.

Chocolate Shell Cordovan, olmo Pueblo, and light orange thread. A subtler version of the above combo.

Black

Suggested pairings: red, green, yellow, taupe, turquoise

Black Chèvre Crispé, red Buttero, and red thread.

Black Chèvre Crispé, ortensia Pueblo, and turquoise thread.

Black Sharkskin, mint Vono, and gray thread.

Dark Reds & Purples

Suggested pairings: natural, taupe, turquoise

Burgundy Ogawa Shell Cordovan, natural Dakota, and off-white thread.
Antique Shinki Shell with petrolio Pueblo, thread matched to exterior
Burgundy Leder Ogawa shell cordovan with teal Sherpa buffalo calf. Thread matched to interior.
Violet and Olmo (orange-y brown) Pueblo with light orange thread.

Violet Pueblo, natural Dakota, and beige thread.