What's so Great About Italian Leather?

Kathy Hawkins

Italian leather is often considered to be the best kind of leather in the world. Many designer brands, such as Gucci and Prada, create purses, shoes, belts, jackets and other items from this material. Some of the world's best furniture makers create high-quality couches and chairs using it as well.

Italian leather can be used to make handbags.
Italian leather can be used to make handbags.

Most traditional leather comes from the hide of a cow, but Italian leather is often made from the hide of ostriches instead. Ostrich leather is thicker and more durable than traditional leather. Leather made from ostrich hide also has larger bumps on the surface, creating a "goosebump" appearance. Products made from cow, lamb, or other types of animals may also be considered Italian leather, however, if they are produced in that country.

Ostrich leather wallet.
Ostrich leather wallet.

Leather from Italy is also traditionally known for the quality of its craftsmanship. Generally, it is "full grain" leather, which is made from the very best raw hides, so that they do not need to be sanded to get rid of imperfections. Full-grain leather is tougher and more durable than other types of leather, and as it ages, it gains a beautiful sheen.

Because it looks attractive when shined, Italian leather is often used to make men's dress shoes.
Because it looks attractive when shined, Italian leather is often used to make men's dress shoes.

Because most of this leather is of such high quality, and can stay in beautiful condition much longer than other types of leather, it can command a premium price. An Italian leather purse, made from ostrich hide, can easily cost several hundred US dollars (USD) or more.

Man wearing a hoodie along with an Italian leather jacket.
Man wearing a hoodie along with an Italian leather jacket.

It is important to consider that the term "Italian leather" does not rely on any particular standard, and so the phrase itself cannot guarantee that the leather will be of the highest quality. Rather than paying attention to the term itself, consumers should consider whether the brand is known for its quality, and what type of hide the leather is made from. If possible, shoppers should try to see the product in person before buying it to make sure that it's of the expected quality.

Woman in an Italian leather jacket.
Woman in an Italian leather jacket.
A real Italian leather chair can last for decades.
A real Italian leather chair can last for decades.
Full-grain leather, which is what most Italian leather is, remains stronger and more durable than other types of leather.
Full-grain leather, which is what most Italian leather is, remains stronger and more durable than other types of leather.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Sorry but ostrich usually costs thousands more, not hundreds. I've seen plenty of bags that are upwards of $4000 and more depending on the designer.


Made in Italy, but the top quality leather itself is probably from Argentina.

I own an Italian leather jacket myself, but I doubt Italy has the climate suitable for top, top notch leather.


How can you tell if the Italian leather is genuine or not? I am looking for a nice gift for a special friend and thought a pair of Italian leather gloves would be nice.

They would be luxurious and practical at the same time. Just because a tag says it is Italian leather, can you trust that is the real thing?


My dad has an Italian leather jacket that he has had for as long as I can remember. As old as that jacket is, it is still in really good shape.

I don't know if he will ever get rid of that jacket no matter how out of style it looks. Some expensive leather jackets like that can stay in style for a long time, but this one looks pretty dated.

He probably spent more money on this jacket made of Italian leather than any other jacket he has ever owned. I think he is bound and determined to get his money's worth out of it.


I have an Italian leather handbag that I paid a lot of money for. I have not been disappointed in the way the leather has worn, but I don't know if it was worth what I paid for it or not.

Leather is one of those materials that will last a long time if it is properly cared for. While there is a difference in the types of leather you can buy, it can sometimes be hard to know whether you are getting the best product for your money or not.


Years ago we bought a couch that was made of Italian leather. You could tell right away when you felt this leather that it was high quality material.

We had that couch in our living room for many years, and now it is downstairs in the family room. I don't worry so much anymore about getting stains on it as I used to.

When I see something that is made of Italian leather, I immediately assume that it is going to be a good quality of leather.


Italian leather comes from all over the world: Italy, France, England, Eastern Europe, south America, etc.

Italian and French hides tend to be the best because they are in controlled pastures (fewer scars), well looked after and not as many flies, bugs and mosquitoes to damage the hides.

But to be honest, it's not really the hides themselves that make the difference -- it's how they're tanned. Technically, the Italians are the best tanners in the world.


"Italian Leather" is nothing more than a marketing term. Other than the fact it helps a seller/retailer remove more money from the pocket books of fools who want to impress their equally shallow friends with a quasi-exotic title, the term is legally meaningless.


There is no such thing as Italian leather. Italian Leather refers to quality of workmanship. The above post is correct - Italy imports almost 95% of leather from other countries.


Lately, I've been coming across several vintage handbags that say they're made in Italy. Unfortunately, the designers names are usually in the form of their signatures which I cannot read. How does one identify these designers? Any suggestions?


Very good information, except for the fact that Italian leather is actually Argentine leather (the best of it). The Italians have been buying the best leather from Argentina for well over two centuries. Sometime they purchase the hides raw and sometimes they purchase it already tanned and ready for goods production. Of course, the Italians are masters at working this ultra supple and high quality leather. So, the question ought to be "why is Argentine leather so good?" It is because the cattle in this nation ranges free in the vast Pampas; a very fertile area of Argentina; and such cattle eat grass (it is not grain fed). That is why Argentine leather is so great and why Argentine steaks are so delicious.

Post your comments
Forgot password?