What Is Nappa Leather? What to Know About this Supple Luxury

Leather items are lovable, thanks to the durability and flexibility of this material. However, you would find varying leather types with different properties. If, as an artisan, you need leather that appears strong yet supple and smooth, then you should consider Nappa leather. So, you need to know what is Nappa leather?

Nappa leather is a premium material sourced from full-grain leather and undergoes a unique tanning process that helps retain its special features. Such a top-quality leather material can come in handy for making several luxury leather items, including fashionable clothing and high-end car seats.

While this leather quality is striking, there is some confusion, and very few persons can adequately identify genuine Nappa leather. Not to worry, this article would clear likely misconceptions and provide intriguing details about this leather type.

is nappa leather durable

What Is Nappa Leather?

Nappa leather is a household name for leather materials that are strong and supple. So, such a leather type would differ in color and thickness and even be sourced from different animal kinds.

But genuine Nappa leather is full-grain leather; hence, its surface doesn’t get sanded or buffed during its tanning process. The only modification this kind of leather undergoes is “hair removal,” which helps it retain its natural markings and texture.

Hence, this makes Nappa leather different from suede and nubuck, as well as other natural leather types that have their grains removed. The grain on this leather has closely packed fibers, giving off a smooth and more delicate feel.

Despite being soft, Nappa leather is strong and can withstand rugged use. Leatherworkers make this material more desirable by dyeing them in different colors and making them abrasion and moisture-resistant.

Where does Nappa leather come from? Nappa leather comes from animal skins of young goats, sheep, and even lamb. Thus, you would find Nappa leather emerging costly compared to other options in the market.

Furthermore, you should know that the term “Nappa” emerged in 1875, conceived by Emanuel Manasse, a worker of the Sawyer Tanning Company in Napa (California).

What is Nappa leather made of?

Nappa leather is made from full-grain animal hide, mostly from young sheep, lamb, goat, and cow. The work on this leather piece is little compared to some other genuine leather. Apart from the hair removal on the animal hide, Nappa leather does not undergo such modifications as sanding or buffing.

Hence, Nappa retains its natural texture, and such imperfections enhance this leather’s beauty, giving it a supple and soft feel. Leather experts further reveal that Nappa leather undergoes aluminum or chromium sulfate tanning, which makes it very flexible.

Types of Nappa Leather

There are several types of Nappa leather, categorized based on the source animals and the dye finishing that gives off their peculiar colors on finished goods. So, based on the animal hides, Nappa leather is grouped into:

  • Calfskin Nappa Leather: Calfskin Nappa leather is often used for making high-end leather products, especially boots.
  • Bovine Nappa Leather: Unlike other Nappa leather types sourced from prime animals, bovine Nappa often comes from large and grown animal hides. With their top quality, they come in handy for making car upholstery, leather sofas, and other furniture.
  • Crossed Sheep and Goats Nappa Leather: This type of Nappa leather are primarily used for crafting footwear, bags, wallet, and a few leather products.
  • Sheep Nappa Leather: Nappa leather sourced from sheep hides is fine and comes in the right thickness for making different clothing.

Similarly, leather crafters often dye Nappa to achieve different colors, and based on this; they are classified as:

  • Aniline Nappa Leather: Nappa aniline leather is often treated with aniline dyes. This treatment gives off a particular color that does not wear out quickly.
  • Polished Nappa Leather: Polished Nappa is often colored after the leather grain has been shined to achieve a flat surface.
  • Pigmented Nappa Leather: This leather type appears delicate due to its fixed color surface. Nevertheless, it remains one of the Nappa leathers that seems the easiest to maintain.
  • Lightly-Pigmented Nappa Leather: This Nappa leather is colored with water-soluble dyes, making it smoother and more even.

How to Care for Nappa Leather

Proper Nappa leather care is crucial for maintaining such items and keeping them in pristine condition. If you want your Nappa leather items to last for a long time, you should store them properly, free from excess heat, moisture, and dust, and clean them when needed.

Applying leather conditioners is also a great way to retain this material’s natural oils and make it look new. Using a stain and moisture protectant spray would go a long way in further maintaining this piece.

Cleaning and Conditioning Nappa Leather

Cleaning and conditioning Nappa leather can be effortless, but you must follow the proper steps to protect this delicate piece. What’s more, you should get the right supplies for this purpose, and some materials you would need include:

  • Leather cleaner
  • Leather conditioner
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Stain and moisture protectant spray

Below is a concise guide on how to clean and condition your Nappa leather products.

Step 1: Pick a clean microfiber cloth and damp it with an appropriate leather cleaner or mild dishwashing soap.

Step 2: Wipe the damp cloth across the leather item in small motions to remove dirt and stains on its surface.

Step 3: Let the Nappa leather dry in a cool area away from direct sunlight.

Step 4: Get a leather conditioner and apply it generously on the Nappa leather, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 5: After conditioning the leather, store it in a well-ventilated area; avoid humid and hot storage spots for storing Nappa leather. Find the right spot within your home to store leather jackets, purses, shoes, and other items made from Nappa.

Nappa Leather Products

Nappa leather is often reserved for making high-end products, compared to some available leather options. Thus, it is mainly employed in the clothing industry for luxury fashion items and in the automotive industry for making car seats in high-priced vehicles.

With that in mind, the following things are crucial that to producing Nappa Leather.

  • Wallets, purses, pouches, briefcases, and bags
  • Jackets and coats
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Pants
  • Belts
  • Notebook covers
  • Shoes
  • Furniture pieces
  • Car seats

Nappa Leather Pros and Cons

Nappa leather is exquisite and gives off a substantially affluent feel. However, it would help if you knew this leather material’s advantages and disadvantages. Doing so would help you make an informed decision based on your needs for this material.


Nappa leather is of superior quality, made from full-grain leather. Hence, it is highly durable and resistant to wear and other damages over time. It is the nature of Nappa to be soft and supple, which makes it an extravagant option for making clothing.

As peculiar with all-natural leather, Nappa leather ages nicely and develops a fantastic patina that makes it look more beautiful after a long period, this leather is also hypoallergenic, thanks to its low transformation. Thus, it is excellent for folks who have specific respiratory issues.

This leather type rarely wrinkles and maintains its integrity for an extended period. Furthermore, Nappa leather reacts well under torsions and tension.


While Nappa leather is excellent and has several outstanding features, it has a few flaws. One is that this leather piece is quite expensive, which may seem above some people’s budget. Although durable, the traces of its uses are often visible on the Nappa leather item, thanks to the material’s porosity that makes it highly sensitive.

Moreover, this leather type does not perform optimally in extreme temperatures. The cold or heat would cause some discomfort, whether in winter or summer, much more for furniture and clothing.

nappa leather


Q: Is Nappa leather real leather?

Nappa leather is genuine leather made from animal skin. This leather type is often made from young cow, sheep, and lamb hides. It is characterized by striking features that set it apart from other leather types, such as its smooth surface, softness, flexibility, and durability.

While some persons may confuse some soft natural and artificial leather for Nappa, you should know that Nappa leather is from prime animal hides with a non-sanded grain.

Q: What difference exists between Nappa leather and leather?

You can barely find any difference between both terms. While leather is a general term for materials sourced from animal hides (except for artificial leather), Nappa is a type of leather with non-sanded tanning.

There are various leather types with varying peculiarities, ranging from their appearance to their durability. However, Nappa has a soft and supple characteristic and retains the natural markings from its uncorrected grain surface.

Q: How good is Nappa leather?

Napp leather is of top quality and made from the top layer of prime animal hides. Since this full-grain leather does not undergo sanding or similar modifications, it has a unique natural marking, which is attractive.

This leather is touted as one of the best leather grades; hence, its wide applications in making various clothing and accessories, alongside luxury car seats and upholsteries. Although costly, Nappa remains one of the choicest leather materials.

Q: Is Nappa leather expensive?

Nappa leather is quite expensive, and this is so due to a few reasons. Firstly, this leather type comes from a full-grain leather hide and does not undergo sanding or similar corrections. Nappa is also durable and flexible, making it an excellent option for various high-end applications.

Is Nappa leather worth it? Yes! If you seek a beautiful, luxurious, and high-quality product, then Nappa leather seems the way to go.

Q: Does Nappa leather age well?

As a full-grain leather, Nappa ages well and, with proper care, can last for an extended period. The older it gets, the more the item softens, and the age helps darken the leather and leaves attractive patinas.

However, appropriate care and maintenance are needed to help prevent dirt, cracking or peeling, and moldy growth on the leather item. Be sure to keep your Nappa leather hydrated, away from direct sunlight, and condition it occasionally to keep it looking its best.

Q: Is Nappa leather waterproof?

Nappa leather is not moisture-resistant but can repel water to an extent since this material does not absorb water quickly. Thus, keeping your Nappa products away from moisture and storing them far from humid areas is recommended. You can also look for good moisture-repellant sprays from stores to keep your Nappa leather free from moisture.

Q: Is Nappa leather strong?

Nappa leather is durable while being flexible and soft, thanks to the non-separated grain layer of the hide. Hence, with proper care and maintenance, genuine Nappa leather is expected to last for an extended period.

Final Words

Nappa leather is a common term discussed amongst leather enthusiasts. But what is Nappa leather? Nappa is a leather type that comes from animal hides and has its top grain retained during its tanning process.

What sets Nappa leather apart from others is its soft feel and luxurious applications in making leather crafts of upscale quality. Kindly read this write-up to learn more about the peculiarities of this leather type.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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