Quality leather furniture only gets better with age. But not all leathers are created equal.
With so many grains, textures and coatings available how can you be sure you are choosing the best quality leather?
KING has sourced quality leather from leading tanneries in Italy and Germany for decades. And with a Leather Collection that spans over six ranges in more than forty signature colours, you can be assured that we understand leather.
We will explore everything you need to know about leather, from the benefits, to understanding leather quality and recognising ethically sourced hides, to how to care for leather furniture.
With this information you can choose the best quality leather furniture that is made to last, and care for your leather for years to come.
Roma leather in Tan
As a luxury product, leather comes with a whole host of terminology. Many manufacturers use vague terms like ‘premium’ or ‘genuine’ and it’s easy to be caught up in all the options available.
Understanding the most common leather types can help you cut through the marketing jargon and choose quality leather furniture.
Regarded as the highest quality leather, full-grain comes from the top layer of the hide and retains all of the natural grain. This means imperfections like scars and wrinkles are shown in the leather. As a result, only the highest quality hides are chosen for full-grain.
Prized for its authenticity, the aniline dye process brings out the leather's natural grain, including imperfections like scars or wrinkles. The hide is submerged in a drum of translucent aniline dye to draw out the original characteristics of the hide, but this does not offer any protective layer. Aniline leather marks easily and can be challenging to maintain on an everyday basis.
Semi-aniline leather is ideal for furniture, retaining the authentic beauty of aniline leather with two critical distinctions. During the drum dying process, a pigment is added that permeates the hide adding a light protective coating and achieving a rich deep colour without compromising that classic leather look.
Semi-aniline leathers in the KING Leather Collection include Nu Touch, Prestige and True Touch. Prestige has a light protective leather added, while True Touch is treated during the tanning process to ensure the leather is water and stain repellent.
Top-grain corrected leather has the outer layer of the hide removed. This is done by buffing and sanding back the top layer, so the leather retains its natural feel but achieves a uniform and refined finish with no natural imperfections. With an added layer of protection, corrected leather is robust and easy to maintain.
Roma and origin from the KING Leather Collection are both top-grain corrected and ideal for achieving the classic look of leather with less maintenance.
Nubuck leather is produced from top-grain hides and has the grain side (outside) buffed back until it has a very small velvety nap. Nubuck is wonderfully smooth, but it is high maintenance and marks very easily.
Nu Touch from the KING Leather Collection creates the matte finish of nubuck leather without maintenance. Durable and hardwearing, this semi-aniline leather is treated with a pigmented protective coating for added resistance.
Made from synthetic materials, vegan leather is designed to take on the appearance of leather without coming from animal hide sources. Much like hide-sourced leather, vegan leather can range in quality. Vegan leather is not recommended for longevity as it is less durable than hide-sourced leather and doesn't offer the ability to improve with age and use.
Microsuede is designed to create the raised texture of regular leather suede, while providing added the added benefits of durability and strength.
KingSuede™ Futuro from the KING Fabric Collection is a soft vegan suede crafted from woven microfiber utlising sophisticated Italian textile technology. With a double cloth weave construction, KingSuede™ Futuro delivers remarkable durability.
Humans have been using leather for centuries. The oldest known leather shoe was found in an Armenian cave and dates back to over 5500 years ago, which makes it older than the Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge, a true testament to the longevity of quality leather.
The way we craft leather has changed dramatically since that first cow-hide shoe was made. And today, the world's leading tanneries are heavily focused on sustainability and comply with strict environmental standards.
Quality upholstery leather, like that sourced for KING, is a by-product of the dairy and meat industry. Every year over 270 million hides that would otherwise go to waste are recycled to make leather, saving 7 million tons from landfill.
If you want to ensure you’re choosing cruelty-free and sustainable leather, here are the key factors you should consider.
Tanning is a chemical process that requires a lot of water; however, over the past twenty years, the world's leading tanneries have led the way and set a high benchmark for environmental responsibility. Tanneries are also highly regulated and subject to both international and government compliance regulations. Since 2003 Italian tanneries, including the one KING partners with, have reduced water use by 19%, energy use by 30% and consumption of chemical by 10%.*
Leading tanneries run their wastewater treatment plants to manage liquid and solid waste. There is also an industry-wide drive toward ZDHC, Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals. This is a non-governmental program that established rules to eliminate hazardous chemicals in textile and leather processing.
KING sources leather from two tanneries in Europe. Both are renowned for their time-honoured craftsmanship and the benchmark set for sustainability in their industry. KING chooses to work exclusively with these two suppliers, not only because they produce the finest upholstery leather in the world but also because of their dedicated stance on corporate responsibility.
Many companies won’t advertise where they are sourcing their leather from. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate that they are not using quality, more sustainable tanneries, it does mean that the only way to find out is to ask the question.
Knowing that the hide is sourced from countries with strict animal welfare regulations in place, such as Australia, New Zealand, or the European Union, ensures that the animal was well cared for during its life and slaughtered humanely.
KING leather is sourced from quality hides in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The quality of the hides used for True Touch is so tightly controlled that they are sourced only from one small region in Germany. Only 2% of the worlds available hides are deemed worthy to create True Touch leather.
Without understanding how to care for your leather furniture you may risk damaging it. No matter which type of leather you choose, caring for your leather is vital to its longevity.
Leather is a natural product, and as a result has a protective coating that will resist most soiling and spills. However, it still needs regular cleaning and conditioning.
Before investing in cleaning products, the most important thing to remember is to always use leather care that is designed for your particular product. It is also worth confirming if your furniture warranty is impacted if you opt for products that aren’t made by the company you purchased your furniture from.
KING Care® cleaning and conditioning products are specially formulated for King leathers and will clean and protect to maximise the life of your leather. You can purchase a KING Care® Leather Care Kit online, or from any KING Showroom.
For more information, you can read our leather care guide.
There are a host of benefits that come with living with leather and it’s easy to see why people have loved living with leather for centuries.
At KING we advocate for choosing more sustainable leather, and higher quality hides, keeping your furniture looking great for longer and reducing landfill.
By learning how to choose quality leather furniture, and how to care for leather furniture, you can enjoy all the benefits of leather for years to come.
*Source UNIC 2017 Sustainability Report.