The most important types of leather:

Smooth leather with grain

Nappa leather
A very soft, smooth leather with a good grip for almost all purposes.

Aniline leather (nappa leather without any pigments in finishing)
A fully dyed leather whose natural pore structure (grain pattern) is clearly and completely recognisable. It may have a transparent, non-pigmented surface coating.

Semi-aniline leather (nappa leather, lightly pigmented)
An aniline leather that also has a lightly pigmented surface coating without the natural pore structure (grain pattern) being concealed.

Pigmented leather (nappa leather, pigmented)
Leather whose pore structure is covered by a pigmented surface coating of less than 0.15 mm.

Water-repellent leather/impregnated leather
Water and dirt-repellent leather (especially shoe leather) that is given these special properties during the tanning process.

Aniline leather

Traditional term for through-dyed, high-quality leather. Formerly obtained from tar, aniline has not been used for leather dyes for decades.

Rough leather

Nubuck leather

High-quality leather with a velvety grain.

Velour leather

Soft and supple leather, sanded on the body side of the hide.

Chamois leather

A soft leather with a good grip that is still traditionally tanned with tran or fish oil. It is mainly used as a window or cleaning leather. It is often used to make traditional costume clothing from genuine buckskins.

Suede leather

Very supple, velvety leather made from genuine buckskins. This is often a misnomer for various rough leathers such as velour or nubuck. It is often used for country house fashion (traditional costumes).

Pit-tanned leather

For very hard-wearing, robust leather, especially sole leather. The leather matures in the tannery with vegetable tanning agents such as oak or spruce over a particularly long tanning period of twelve months or more.

Upper leather

Designation of the leather for the outer shoe parts, the shoe upper.

Split leather

Leather from the lower layer of a split hide without grain structure. The surface can be roughened, smooth or embossed.

Coated leather

Leather or split leather with a surface coating applied to the outside which has a thickness of more than 0.15 mm but does not exceed one third of the total thickness of the material (see also labelling regulations).


General term for a tanned animal skin with hair. In leather terminology, hide also refers to the skin of smaller animals such as sheep and goats.

More detailed information at

Professional organisations and associations:

Leather Research Association
(Forschungsgemeinschaft Leder e.V. – FGL)
Member of the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations “Otto von Guericke”

VGCT Association for Tannery Chemistry and Technology e.V.
(Verein für Gerberei-Chemie und -Technik e.V.)

Employers’ Association of the German Leather Industry e.V.(Arbeitgeberverband der deutschen Lederindustrie e.V.)

BG RCI -Trade Association for the Raw Materials and Chemical Industry
(Berufsgenossenschaft Rohstoffe und chemische Industrie)

Leather institutes

FILK Freiberg Institute gGmbH

Testing and Research Institute Pirmasens e.V. – PFI
(Prüf- und Forschungsinstitut Pirmasens e.V)

Neighbouring associations

Federal Association of the Footwear and Leather Goods Industry e.V.
(Bundesverband der Schuh- und Lederwarenindustrie e.V.)

TEGEWA e.V. Auxiliaries for leather production
(TEGEWA e.V. Hilfsmittel für die Ledererzeugung)

Deutscher Pelz-Groß- und Außenhandelsverband e.V.

Leather museums

German Leather Museum

Lohgerber Museum & Gallery Dippoldiswalde

Leather and Tanning Museum Mülheim a. d. Ruhr