The crocodile leather: today we talk about the queen of skins

by | 21 Sep 2020 | Leather tech

Written by Attilio Ercoli

21 Sep 2020

My idea is to talk about the whole world of leather, from the most common to the rarest; however, it seems appropriate to start with what is considered by all the most renowned skin: the crocodile leather.

Why is this skin more expensive? The reasons are, as always, many, but I believe that first of all this is due to the scarcity and (obvious) difficulty in finding the raw material. Today with the development of farm and breeding technology, the scarcity is disappearing, although it is always very difficult to have a top quality leather and for this reason its price is constantly high and is always in demand, a bit like apartments in the VIP areas of the cities: they always have demand and the price never drops!

There are other factors that make it very expensive, such as the difficulty of tanning and retanning, since the crocodile has a very tough skin and tends to create cartilage sometimes even in the part of the stomach. Even the processing is very complex: for example the shaving of the leather for clothing, with the risk of tearing between the scales, because to get to a thickness of 0.6 / 0.7 mm you need to have a huge experience. This is why tails often have holes in the crocodile skin for clothing: in that part the skin is more tough and therefore more difficult to shave.

What can crocodile skin look like? Like most exotic leathers, the cut can be in front or in the back: if the cut will be in the belly, the type of skin is called Hornback and you will thus obtain a skin that highlights the typical bones that act as armor, if the cut will be in the back, the skin is called Belly. Today this cut is the one most used by the big brands and also the most difficult to preserve in terms of quality and choice since the crocodile crawls on the belly, it is less cartilaginous precisely and therefore more subject to defects such as scars and parasites.

How do you measure crocodile skin? In centimeters, considering the widest part of the belly, paying close attention to what we are including in this measure. In Belly the cartilaginous part must be excluded from the measurement as it cannot be used because it is subject to breakage: often this part is discarded by the tannery to facilitate all commercial operations, but if it is not, remember to measure from the center of the last bone in the two ends! The measurement practice is to gather the sizes (for example 25/29 cm, 30/34 cm) thus assigning price groups and clearly larger is the skin more the price per cm increases since the surface for cutting is greater …

How do you evaluate the choice of a crocodile skin? The practice is to consider only the belly defects while the neck and tail do not influence the evaluation. Normally we divide the stomach into 4 quadrants and in the case of no defect it declares 1st choice, in the case of a quadrant with defect it is 2nd, in the case of two quadrants it is 3rd. Clearly the importance of the defect, the type of use and the object for which the skin was made influences the evaluation: a closed scar can be invisible, a parasite that could represent a defect can instead be seen as the natural part of the skin.

Finally I leave you some videos: take a look at them before making a very expensive mistake…

All your comments are precious for me and for the fine leather community. Let’s be in touch!



The best leathers and components suitable for all type of manufacturing use

Written by Attilio Ercoli

Italian, he has been working in the leather and shoes business for 25 years; lived for 10 years in Leon, Mexico, a city that produces 130 million pairs of shoes per year, as general manager of one of the most important raw material companies for shoe manufacturers. 

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