As leather enthusiasts, we can’t ignore the unique properties of leather. The suppleness, durability, and natural markings that come with different leather types make them stand out. And this is the same for crocodile leather – one of the most luxury materials in the world.
As the name suggests, crocodile leather is derived from the skin of crocodiles, which is tanned and treated to make various high-end products. It is prized for its durability, luxury, and uniqueness and is typically more expensive than most other leathers.
If you are considering purchasing a product made from crocodile leather, it is crucial to learn in-depth about this treasured material. This write-up reveals everything you must know about this expensive and exclusive leather.
Crocodile Leather Explained
Crocodile leather is an iconic material characterized by the ridges, thanks to the large scales on this reptile. The intrinsic value of this luxurious leather makes it one of the most sought options in the fashion industry.
Thus, renowned fashion brands and designers like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Burberry, Chanel, and Versace produce high-end crocodile leather items.
Is crocodile leather durable?
This leather is durable and flexible to suit versatile applications, and it is excellent for making both small and large leather goods.
While leather sourced from reptiles may not seem very soft like other types of leather, crocodile leather appears to be the softest in this leather class. To prove this point, when comparing alligator vs. crocodile leather, the former has a tough and rougher texture.
This exotic leather is mainly produced across Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Whether you want to engage in a DIY leather project or want to invest in a new leather item, you should consider crocodile leather.
With various reptile leather and faux crocodile leather in the market, some people can barely tell crocodile leather apart from others. Not to worry, here’s how to tell a real crocodile leather:
- Check out the price tag; crocodile leather is pretty expensive, and options from famous names could cost a minimum of $4,000. For instance, a crocodile leather Hermes Birkin handbag can cost up to $50,000.
- Look through the grain pattern of the leather, as crocodile leather has irregular patterned grains of slightly different sizes and shapes.
- Genuine crocodile leather usually has scales or tiles that transition slowly from large-squared tiles in the middle to small-round tiles at the sides.
- Move your fingers through the leather surface and pay attention to its suppleness and flexibility. Crocodile leather is soft and smooth, whereas “embossed crocodile leather” appears rigid and compact.
- Finally, crocodile leather brands often issue official tax invoices when you buy a real crocodile leather product.
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History of Crocodile Leather
The use of crocodile leather dates back several centuries, as this material was “reportedly employed” for crafting armor for religious ceremonies during the 3rd century AD in Roman Egypt. However, crocodile leather was rare and used sparingly since they were stiff and appeared quite “flaky.”
But there were rapid changes in the 1850s, with improvements in leather tanning processes, which addressed the issues of the hides.
Kindly note that the crocodile species usually used for this leather production are the Nile crocodile, native to Africa, alongside the Siamese, saltwater, and New Guinea crocodiles.
However, there is a significant controversy surrounding crocodile leather, and this is because crocodiles are endangered species. The improvement in leather tanning increased the hunting of such reptiles.
So, is crocodile leather legal? Please know that the laws governing the harvesting of crocodile skins differ based on the country. These regulations control indiscriminate harvesting and sales of leather.
In the 1960s, however, crocodile farms were set up for harvesting wild eggs and breeding these animals for their skin. Thus, most crocodile leather in recent times comes from these farms, which further enhances a healthy population of these reptiles to prevent extinction.
Read Also: Fish Leather
Crocodile Leather Production Process
It is merely enough to stock your closet with attractive crocodile leather boots, bags, and jackets, as it is also profiting from learning a few things about making crocodile leather. The hide harvested from this reptile often goes through different convoluted processes, and here is a concise detail of the steps involved.
The skinned crocodile leather is first soaked in a tub of water to allow it to reabsorb lost water and ensure the soluble proteins get dissolved. During this process, the hide also undergoes a simple cleaning that helps remove dirt and debris to prepare it for the following process.
The cleaned crocodile skin is now placed in a liming pit and treated in slaked lime or sodium sulfide for about two days. These chemicals help dissolve the crocodile skin’s epidermis and scales while prepping the hidden structure for bleaching.
Since liming increases the skin’s alkalinity, tanners subject the hide to a solution of ammonium salts for a short while.
Bleaching and Acid Treatment
At the tannery, the hide is further bleached after the chemical treatment. However, this process occurs in two steps. The first bleaching step subjects the leather to a solution of potassium permanganate for about an hour. However, the second step involves soaking the hide in a sodium bisulfate solution for another hour.
You should know that the tanning method would further determine the quality of the leather. However, chrome tanning is recommended for crocodile leather, as opposed to vegetable tanning or other forms of tannage.
Chrome tan would effectively coat the high tensile strength collagen, making the hide decay and heat resistant. It also removes excess moisture from crocodile leather and further improves its qualities. So, the leather is soaked in a drum of tanning solution and left to sit for about 1-3 days, transforming it into wet blue leather.
Shaving and Neutralizing
After tanning the leather, a few improvements need to be made. Thus, leather experts move further to shave the hide using a particular machine to ensure it has a uniform thickness.
Once this shaving gets completed, the leather is further treated with sodium bicarbonate for about an hour. The tanner places the wet hide on a rack following the neutralizing process to dry away from heat.
Now, you can decide to get the leather retanned and dyed. Be sure to lubricate the leather and apply a protectant that locks moisture away. From there, you should know that crocodile leather production can have a harmful impact on the environment.
Hence, a few licensed locations for such purposes, and the harvested hides get shipped to these stations. The rawhide is first salted to prevent it from rotting while being transported.
Crocodile Leather Products
For centuries, crocodile hides have been used to make various leather products. This leather’s versatility makes it suitable for making different leather clothing and furniture items, thanks to its superior quality and fascinating aesthetic finish. With that in mind, here are some luxurious crocodile leather products you can find.
Crocodile leather bags are attractive and manufactured to appear firmer and more structured. These handbags are usually long-lasting and have impressive aesthetics, making them high-fashion items. Genuine crocodile leather bags from luxury brands like Hermes, Chanel, and Burberry could cost up to $50,000.
Crocodile hides are one of the most sought leather for making top-quality footwear. Crocodile leather shoes are durable and very attractive, manufactured by renowned brands. Genuine crocodile skin shoes may appear expensive, with some costing a minimum of $500, but buying such long-lasting products is worth it.
Crocodile leather jackets are rare but exquisite fashion items that are as durable as fashionable. The prices of these leather jackets vary but should be around $327 to $6000. From museum-worthy vintage leather jackets to luxurious options from top brands, multiple types of crocodile leather jackets are available.
Genuine crocodile leather appears to be one of the best pieces for making wallets. The skin of this reptile works well in crafting and sewing functional and stylish wallets. The average cost of a crocodile leather wallet starts from as low as $300.
Some of the best watches have leather straps from harvested crocodiles. Such an accessory is often stylish and durable; it is also tough and resistant to tears. You can find a crocodile leather watch strap for at least $200.
Many stylish handmade crocodile leather belts give a solid stretch. Its contemporary design and prolonged life shelf of this make it an excellent choice. The sophisticated finish and iconic scales are pretty appealing. Again, the cost of these belts varies, with high-end options reaching $850 and more.
Crocodile Leather Pros and Cons
Whether you are planning to work with crocodile leather for your craft or buying a new leather product, it is crucial to study the pros and cons of this material. Doing so would help you make a pre-informed decision and guide your choice-making. Thus, the section below holds the merits and likely demerits associated with crocodile leather.
Crocodile leather is loved by many for its distinctive pattern, which is pretty attractive. It is flexible and highly durable. You can use your crocodile leather products for an extended period with proper maintenance.
Also, since different crocodile species are usually harvested, this material’s versatility increases. So, while the luxury marque, Hermes employs porous crocodile leather for making bags, you would find other brands using a different species, which reveals slight differences in texture and patterns.
One major downside to this type of leather is its expensive cost. Crocodile leather prices can be high and may not be the right choice if you are on a tight budget.
Also, working with crocodile leather is challenging since the uneven surface and scales may cause some hitches if the leatherwork needs to be planned adequately. Finally, most crocodile leather is not moisture-proof, and you may need to apply some waterproofing spray to protect the leather.
How to Care Crocodile Leather
While crocodile leather is a beautiful piece, it is crucial to maintain it properly to ensure it lasts long. Luckily, this leather care only requires you to do a few asides from basic cleaning, conditioning, and storing the leather right.
So, here are some tips to help you care for crocodile leather products.
- Be sure to wipe off dust and debris from this piece using a soft cloth or horsehair brush.
- You can remove stains from the leather using a leather cleaner or an appropriate stain removal solution for leather.
- Always condition the leather regularly to retain its natural oils; apply the conditioner in small motions using a soft cloth.
- Using a water-repellant on the crocodile leather surface is excellent since it helps lock moisture away.
- Ensure you properly store leather jackets, shoes, bags, belts, and similar items—away from direct light and heat.
Q: Is crocodile leather good quality?
Crocodile leather is a premium material, considered one of the finest leather types. It is flexible, durable, and supple, suitable for various applications. Thus, you would find this piece employed by luxurious brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Hermes in making exotic clothing items and accessories.
Q: Is crocodile leather real leather?
Genuine crocodile leather is sourced from the skins of crocodiles and subjected to tanning to improve its properties. While the crocodile embossed leather is often prints of bovine or synthetic leather, real crocodile leather are harvested from the reptile.
You would find genuine crocodile leather with uneven scale marks that are slightly different (shape and size). This leather type is soft and durable, which makes it highly suitable for rigid applications.
Q: Is crocodile leather legal?
Following the controversy surrounding the hunting of crocodiles, you will find specific regulations regarding the sales and importation of crocodile leather. Such laws differ with the country, but in the US CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of the wild) regulates this leather.
CITES ensures that the trade of crocodile skins occurs sustainably; hence, both profitable for the reptile and great for the environment. Finally, the availability of several farms where most crocodile leather comes from helps maintain a healthy population of these reptiles and keeps them from going extinct.
Q: How expensive is crocodile leather?
Crocodile leather is an exotic piece that is liked for its unique properties. Hence, it is costly, but its price varies according to the grade of the leather. However, the prices of crocodile leather products from luxury brands can be pretty high.
You can get crocodile skin Gucci loafers for up to $3,300; Omega watches strap and wallet for $900 and $600, respectively, and a Franklin briefcase for $15,000.
Q: Does Louis Vuitton still use crocodile skin?
Louis Vuitton is a renowned fashion brand that has several crocodile leather products on its fashion line. Impressively, all crocodile skins employed by this marque come from certified farms, making the tanneries’ requirements traceable. So, you can find top-quality crocodile Louis Vuitton shoes, wallets, and handbags.
Q: Are Louis Vuitton made from crocodiles?
Louis Vuitton uses materials ranging from leather and fur to wool for manufacturing products. The leather employed by this company is often sourced from different animals, including lambskin, cowhide, camel skin, and crocodile skin. Louis Vuitton buys crocodile leather from certified farms and produces good-quality products.
Q: Can crocodile leather get wet?
Excess of moisture can damage your precious crocodile products; thus, keeping them far from humidity is recommended. It is also important to wipe spills off the leather surface quickly, using a clean and soft cloth to prevent moisture stains and dry away from heat.
Q: How long does crocodile leather last?
The crocodile leather for sale in markets has undergone several modifications that make it highly durable. So, buying this leather item is a significant investment that can last for 50 years. All that is needed is proper care and maintenance of the leather.
Crocodile leather remains one of the finest leather you can find. It is luxurious, supple, and durable and makes a solid fashion statement in its application in making clothing and accessories.
As a leather hobbyist working with crocodile leather, you should be careful in handling this piece, as a slight mistake could ruin it. Thus, it is crucial to learn about this leather type, and this article exposes all you should know about crocodile leather.