Two-tone leather refers to the use of more than one color of leather on a given item. Any product which is made with two different colors of leather can be called two-tone. Usually, there are separate pieces of leather for the different colors, not a single dyed or printed piece. Two-tone leather is used in upholstery, clothing, equipment, and many other products. It is usually a style feature, designed to give visual interest while using the same type of fabric.
Since leather is a durable material, it is commonly used with any type of product which receives continuous wear. Car seat upholstery, riding equipment, and work clothing and shoes often use leather. The smooth side of leather or the suede side, can also be used. Using two different colors of leather allows a designer to create different visual effects without sacrificing the durability of leather for another fabric.
Leather can be dyed, but its natural colors are brown, black, white, and tan. Dyed leather can be virtually any color, from hot pink to turquoise. From time to time, brightly colored leathers become trendy and are produced by both mass market clothiers and exclusive designers.
Using two-tone leather is a matter of design and preference. Either shades of the same color, like a light tan and golden brown, or two contrasting colors can used with two-tone leather. For instance, a women's tote bag may be made of black leather, but have white leather pockets and trim. The look is distinctly different from a bag that is plain black leather.
For many years, one two-tone leather style has survived as a classic in both mens and women's clothing: the spectator shoe. This oxford design uses two contrasting leathers, usually black and white or brown and white, with a perforated decorative edge around the overlapping pieces. The spectator was designed to imitate the look of spats, which were a style of white shoe protectors worn during the 1800s. Since it was first produced, the spectator style of shoe has been modified and reinvented by designers again and again.
In some cases, two-tone leather gives an item dual functionality. Many individuals match the tone of leather they wear with their clothing. Black shirts or slacks are worn with a black leather belt and shoes. Two-tone leather may allow one item to be used with two different colors. A pair of two-tone leather shoes made of black and brown leather can be worn with either color of clothing.