Buffalo Skin Manufacture

Buffalo became increasing popular during the 19th century, after the Civil War. A sharp incline in the demand for buffalo hides and meat in the 1820’s mean that Buffalo almost became extinct. All parts of the Buffalo were used from the hide, to the meat to the tails and horns. No part of it was wasted in the production process and the leather that was obtained was usually just a by product from the animals that would have been killed for the meat industry anyway.

Buffalo hides go through the same process of manufacture as most Leathers do. The skin is tanned, with the use of an acidic compound and the skins can then be used for a variety of applications. Another type of Buffalo leather that is produced is called ‘Nubuck’ leather. This is made by sanding or buffing the grain side to give it a slight nap made from the short protein fibres. The end result is a velvet-like texture.

Many different finishes can be used of Buffalo leather such as, glazed, high shine, milled or a resin can be applied to achieve different end surfaces and textures.

Properties of Buffalo

  • Strong and elastic material
  • Unique. No two hides are the same in terms of size, colour etc
  • Stronger than cow leather
  • Interesting grain pattern
  • Durable yet soft
  • Flexible
  • Versatile
  • Available in various colours
  • Wear resistant
  • Very thick
  • Heavy
  • Cost effective

Uses of Buffalo in Fashion Past and Present

  • Buffalo was used to make floor length coats. These were worn by women in the 19th Century
  • The Indians who originally used Buffalo used it for Moccasins, Boots and Winter Garments
  • Bags
  • Dresses
  • Belts
  • Shirts
  • Breeches
  • Jackets
  • Used in the uniforms and shoes of army, police officers and factory workers

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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