Cowhide Manufacture

Cowhide was first used by ancient civilisations. They raised and domesticated their own cattle and gradually realised that the skin, which was formally a waste product could be used as a fabric. Cow hide is the most common type of leather as it can be dyed a multitude of colours and have many finishes applied so that it resembles other more exotic types of leather. This protects other animals as cows will be killed for their meat anyway and the skin is just a by product of the food industry.

Like most types of leather the skin of the cow is taken and first it is shaved to remove all the hair. After this it is then stretched flat and dried. The tanning process can then begin. Other effects can be applied to cowhide once the manufacturing process is over. Designs can be embossed, printed or cut out the leather. Metal studs can also be added. Cow hide leather can either be soft and furry or hard and slick depending on the way that it is tanned.

Cowhide leather is available in many different sizes and qualities depending on the type of cow that it is from and how it is manufactured. Full grain leather is the best quality of leather available and many environmental factors account for the grade of leather produced such as climate, conditions the animal is kept in, how the animal is treated and whereabouts on the cow the leather is obtained from.

Properties of Cowhide

  • Waterproof
  • Durable
  • Does not rip or tear easily
  • Thick
  • Strong
  • Not as prone to cracking as most leathers
  • Flexible
  • Breathable
  • Supple
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Can be either dyed or left its natural colour
  • Lasts 5 times as long as fabric
  • Resistant to sun and heat damage

Uses of Cowhide in Fashion Past and Present

  • Cowhide boots
  • Gloves
  • Vests
  • Jackets
  • Purses
  • Bags
  • Performance clothing such as Motorcycle jackets because if its durability and resistance to tear


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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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