What is Patent Leather? And Its Features

An incredible variety of leathers is available today, ranging from artificial vegan leather to different types of leather like nubuck. However, patent leather is one type that stands out from the rest. The substance, which has unusual physical properties and a shiny appearance, has recently experienced a renewal in popularity. 

If you walk down a busy street, you'll likely immediately see someone carrying a fancy patent leather bag or trench coat. So why is patent leather employed? What benefits are there? How are they created? Discover all about patent leather by continuing to read.

What exactly is patent Leather?

The shimmering, lustrous sheen of layered patent leather gives it an instantly distinctive look. It is renowned for being nearly waterproof yet malleable, slushy, and maintenance-free. Although many other colors are available, the leather is usually matte black. 

Although expensive shoes from French and Italian fashion companies have long been associated with money, or at least luxury, patent leather is now widely available and reasonably priced. The price reduction results from advances in the production procedure, but we'll talk about that in a minute.

What is Patent Leather vs Leather?

When it comes to water resistance, patent leather far outperforms genuine leather. Plus, it's low-maintenance, highly scratch-resistant, and available in various colors. However, leather is better in toughness, breathability, smell, and clean look. 

Moreover, genuine Leather is undoubtedly the best regarding resistance to creases and tears. It is challenging to answer this question completely, as even ordinary Leather varies in quality. Both have advantages, and one cannot precede the other. There are advantages and downsides to every assortment.

Advantages and disadvantages of patent and genuine Leather

We should now analyze the benefits and inconveniences of these two materials. By looking at certain properties, we can assess the pros and cons.

  • Breathability

Leather is a very breathable material. It can some way or another, take dampness from the air around it and hold it. Moisture seeps deep into the leather of the fibers, extracting and exfoliating the dead, flaky sebum on the surface of the leather. Air can now penetrate through the pores of the Leather, allowing it to absorb new conditioning oils. One of the many unique properties of leather is its ability to breathe. 

The breathability of natural leather is incredibly difficult to replicate. This property is important for almost all leather products that come into direct contact with the skin, including shoes, jackets, gloves, and nearly all leather goods. 

This characteristic allows leather to absorb and drain moisture and sweat more effectively than other textiles. This is also a great advantage if looking for leather furniture or vehicle seats.

  • Appearance

Visually, the two categories studied are very different. The so-called patent leather benefits from a special treatment that gives it a shiny appearance. Thus, patent leather is a classier and more alluring variety of Leather. 

This distinctive quality makes patent leather unique from other types of Leather. Once the animal's hair has been removed, or the animal's fur or skin has been removed, the Leather usually has natural grains, flaws, and extremely microscopic pores that are visible.

Depending on the intended application, the manufacturer leaves the leather full-grain or smooths out surface defects in the grain to give the leather a uniform look and feel. With some variations, it is often referred to as leather or semi-aniline leather. Compared to the glassy surface of patent leather, modified leather may have a noticeable shine over a full coat, but the shine is still crisp.

  • Water and stain resistant

Two significant problems with leather fabrics are their resistance to water and stains. However, the way each leather reacts to water and dirt is different. Particularly in comparison to regular leather, patent leather is more water and dirt-resistant, and patent leather is more resistant to liquid stains thanks to its shiny surface. 

You don't need to be worried about the rain destroying your best leather shoes and outerwear. Any liquid containing moisture, such as milk, water, or other beverages, often beads or splashes on patent leather and is simple to remove with a dry or moist towel. Although patent leather provides a strong barrier against liquid stains, one of its main drawbacks is its tendency to absorb color from other materials. 

To allow the paint to transfer, place the patent leather bag or purse near another colored item. It can be for raw patent leather; Nine times out of ten, this happens regardless of the temperature. Although leather is more stain resistant, it is not comparable to patent leather in water and stain resistance. To remove virtually all stains from leather, you can use natural or homemade detergents or treatments.

Innovation of patent leather

The development and growth of patent leather has been gradual. A mention of the material in the old British literary magazine The Bee in 1793 described having obtained a patent for a new type of "slushy leather." It has an enamel and shine that makes it waterproof. This is where the name "patent Leather" comes from. At this point, he was employed in producing expensive shoes for the wealthy upper classes.

  • Thirty years later, inventions have exploded. Edmund Pryor was granted a formal patent in 1799 to develop a new coating method, and he finished the Leather with oil varnish and a combination of dye and boiled oil. 

  • Then there was a fellow Londoner named Charles Mollerstein, whose mixture of carbon black, whale oil, linseed oil, and horse oil gave his Leather a particularly shiny finish. Möllerstein also received a valid patent in 1805.

  • On the other hand, Seth Boyden is widely credited with popularizing patent leather and opening the door to commercial production, especially in the United States. His 1819 coating technique was based on repeated applications of linseed oil, and ironically, he never managed to patent the method.

  • Innovators started experimenting with synthetic coatings in the late 19th century when polymers were used to make significant scientific advancements. The result was a reduction in the cost of manufacturing patent leather, which opened the door to the widespread use of patent leather in consumer goods. 

  • The process benefited greatly from the discovery of polyurethane in 1937, a polymer that remains essential in the production of patent leather today. While previously patent leather, imitation, or "faux" leather were made from premium natural calfskin, leather began to take up this role in the late 20th century and beyond. 

  • It has no overall impact on the longevity of the products because the finishing lacquer cancels out the natural characteristics of quality leather. The merit is that patent leatherette products are much cheaper. 

  • Numerous buyer items are made with patent leather, and the shiny, opulent texture of the material works well for formal accessories. Still, it is also used to create various everyday items, including jackets, backpacks, belts, handbags, and bracelets. 

  • The best-known application of patent leather is footwear. In the early 19th century, cordwainers (shoemakers) used the shiny luster of the material to make high-end dance and dress shoes. Patent leather has continued to be associated with wealth over the years. 

  • The leather finish of men's tuxedo shoes is shiny patent leather. At the same time, the shiny soles of Christian Louboutin's iconic pumps made them famous as a French fashion house.

  • The high fashion giant and online stores have again popularized patent leather fashion. Coach creates high-end handbags, Valentino creates shoes, and Hermès creates and sells patent leather purses. The patent leather fashion of the 1960s continues to influence cyclical fashion today. A period in which clothing made from this material, including miniskirts, knee-high boots, and trench coats, significantly changed social norms and the status of women.

How to clean patent leather?

  • Your beloved pair of patent leather boots are starting to look worse because it was afternoon last night. Luckily, patent leather products have a protective layer of lacquer that makes them clean easily. Various everyday items, such as liquid soap, cooking oil, and petroleum jelly, can be used as cleaning agents. Unlike animal leather, repairing broken fibres with a conditioner is not required.

  • Begin by carefully brushing off dirt or debris with any soft brush, paying particular attention to cracks. Clean a bowl by adding some liquid soap to some warm water. 

  • If you choose not to perform those above, you may still properly clean patent leather with soft, damp baby wipes. After application, wipe moisture from the surface with a dry cloth or tissue to prevent spotting and dulling. 

What is patent leather made from?

The tanning technique used on animal hides that would eventually become patent leather is the same as that employed on practically all other varieties of Leather. But in short, once the hides are sent to the tannery and prepared for tanning, which entails very little soaking, liming, and stuffing, they go through the actual tanning process, i.e., when they become Leather. 

  • This step allows the manufacture of all sorts of leather, from vinyl to laminate, employing several procedures and chemical approaches. However, the tanned leather is given a special treatment to give it a shiny appearance and glossy texture.

  • The manual application of protective lacquer used to take a lot of time. Tanners gradually treated it with oil-based varnishes, starting with quality cowhide, sometimes up to 20 treatments. Freshly applied moist leather should be dried outside the sun or on fire.

  • Modern procedures are more efficient and mechanized to generate a distinctive finish. Today's tanneries utilize a synthetic blend of polyurethane and acrylic instead of natural oils. The former creates the typical hardness and glossy sheen, while the latter offers flexibility. The tanner must balance the two appropriately to guarantee the leather has the required qualities and texture.

  • The most systematic approach for applying a topcoat was a single spray. However, the system did not achieve the desired thick layer and depth of gloss. Today, many individuals select the practically entirely automatic curtain coating procedure. Tanners start by adding a liquid synthetic coating to a tank. 

  • The rawhide is continuously covered with lacquer as it passes over a conveyor belt at the bottom of the vat. Conveyor belts move the wet Leather into a heated tunnel, instantly treating it. We hope now you know what patent leather is made of.

Facts related to Patent Leather

If you want to purchase this leather product, please do your homework first! Consider many things before buying, like the pros and cons, carefully. If this ever fascinated you, now is the time to learn all you can about patent leather. Here are five details regarding this distinctive type of real Leather:

  • Scratch resistance

Assuming you need something scratch-safe, the best material to pick is leather. Its glass-like shine and extremely smooth surface make it easy to maintain and suitable for high-end uses such as furniture.

  • It is ecological

Since it is animal-friendly, patent leather is a material that saves resources and promotes environmental awareness. It is made from the hides of cows humanely raised without harsh hormones, antibiotics, or other cruel practices like hanging, stabbing, or cutting. Fur processing produces various products, including shoes and handbags, which help reduce CO2 emissions by creating jobs during industrial production.

  • It's strong

As a form of leather that has undergone the patent process, patent leather has an extremely firm surface that resists tearing and wear.

  • Waterproof

To give it a long-lasting, glass-like shine, patent leather is waterproof leather covered with multiple layers of lacquer or varnish. The fact that this type of Leather can withstand rain and moisture without damage makes it considered waterproof.

  • Its smell, feel, and appearance are distinctive.

People love patent leather shoes, jackets, and other necessities for various reasons. Besides being the best Leather for these things, it also has a distinctive smell that is hard to ignore. Its soft and silky texture makes it ideal for shoes or coats with stripes or intricate patterns. Additionally, since every piece is unique, its appearance can be highly customized.


Patent leather is one of the most used Leathers, and many different things are made using it. But many people need to learn about what is patent leather, and we have briefly addressed this Leather if you are one of them as well.


Does patent leather have a patent?

Yes, it is made from genuine Leather, in a nutshell, but it has to go through a special process to give it its shiny, shiny finish. The Leather is coated with a plastic or resin finish while manufacturing patent leather to produce a smooth, glossy surface.

Is patent leather better than Leather?

Genuine Leather is almost always stronger than patent leather, and good Leather may last a lifetime with the proper maintenance. Artificial Leather is made of only plastic materials, such as bonded Leather or PU Leather, which are less flexible than patent leather.

Is patent leather a premium material?

Usually, patent leather is Leather covered with plastic. Frequently, it is plastic-coated imitation leather, which makes it plastic. Since the plastic layer hides the natural properties of the Leather, it cannot be considered high-quality Leather.

What is patent leather used for?

Applications with a shiny and attractive appearance are the most important factor in using poromeric and patent leather. Fashion accessories, including purses and purses, uniforms and dance shoes, thigh-high boots and professional wrestling shoes, belts, and trench coats are just a few examples. 

How to remove scratches from patent leather?

Scratches occur naturally when patent leather items are used regularly but are usually easily removed with shoe polish. Think about dabbing some petroleum jelly on a microfiber cloth and using it to rub the afflicted regions in a circular motion gently. Wait 20 to 30 minutes for the petroleum jelly to soak into the surface. After that, wipe it with a dry towel to keep the surface scratch-free. For severe abrasions, apply olive oil instead.

How is patent leather polished?

The distinctive lustrous and opulent sheen of patent leather is perhaps its best feature. We recommend that you buy a patent leather cleaner to fix it. Apply your item generously on a microfiber material, then, at that point, rub it in a round movement. After drying for approximately 5 minutes, the surface will be slightly cloudy.

How is patent leather stored?

Patient leather items may deteriorate after extended exposure to UV radiation, such as those from sunshine. They are keeping these products away from natural light when in storage is important, and it's always worth checking since certain patent leathers now feature a coating that supports UV protection. 

Interestingly, the light colors of patent leather, such as cream and white, can also take on the color of other things. So the best location to store them is always in the garment bag with them. Otherwise, keep them protected, such as a closet, cabinet, or drawer.


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