About Our Leather

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Leather is a beautiful, natural and versatile material. Fine quality leather feels and looks good to wear – its scent, appearance and texture all make it a unique material with an aura of luxury and prestige. Leather is the oldest material known to man and can be traced right back to primitive man who used the raw skins and hides from animals hunted for food to provide shelter and clothing. Through the ages, methods to preserve the skins were discovered and further refined, through a process known as ‘tanning’, to transform these skins into leather.

Why Leather? The Properties and Benefits of Leather

Leather has properties that make is superior to other materials.

Leather is a material that has an exceptionally long useful life, lasting much longer than fabric and ‘faux’ leather. It ages well and will retain and even improve its good looks for many years to come so it is not a ‘throw-away’ item. The natural blemishes in each skin give each piece of leather its own individual character, resulting in natural variations that are inherent in genuine leather garments. With regular wear and with your body heat, a leather garment will mould and adjust to your body’s contours and will stretch just enough at any snug contact points to fit you more comfortably. Leather is also comfortable to wear as it is breathable, thus allowing ventilation and evaporation to take place, it feels warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and is naturally windproof. Leather has a high resistance to tear and puncture, which is why Bikers wear it for protection and is also resistant to flame and heat.

Leather is a by-product and is a renewable natural resource.

Leather can be made from any animal skin and, with a few notable exceptions such as snakeskin, the leather industry makes use of the hides and skins from animals, principally cattle, sheep and pigs, reared specifically for meat, wool and dairy products. Therefore leather production prevents what would otherwise be an enormous waste disposal problem with potential health hazards. If leather was not produced, it would also have to be replaced, predominantly by synthetic materials from non-renewable resources.

Does leather have any drawbacks?

Well, there are one or two things to be aware of so that you can take good care of your precious leather garments. For instance, leather is a natural and inherently porous material and so is not waterproof or stain proof. In addition, the colours can begin to fade if the leather is exposed to strong direct sunlight for extended periods of time. (Read more about looking after your leather in our post on Caring for Your Leather.)

Our leather clothing

Apart from one or two products that we offer in high quality cowhide, our leather clothing is made from lambskin nappa. Lambskin is a soft leather that is fine grained, supple and lightweight, yet still tough and durable. For any particular type of leather, however, there will be differences in quality and characteristics, depending on several factors, including the quality of the original skin chosen, the type of tanning processes used and the finish applied. Final colour shade and tone variation can also vary batch by batch. This is because of the very nature of leather since it is not a synthetically produced material.

We have taken great care in choosing high quality, high-grade lambskin, selected specially for its luxurious softness and durability. You can fully appreciate how smooth and soft the leather is when you touch it; it will also continue to look good over time. Some of our garments are made exclusively from British hides. (The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is never more true than for leather, so be wary of any claims made for leather products which you may see at ‘bargain prices’. For instance, the top layer of the original skin may be sliced into thinner layers to produce clothing in an inferior material that can be sold at lower prices.)

Terms used to describe our leather clothing

You will see in our product pages that we use a number of different terms to describe the leather used for our clothing and we will explain a little more about them below.

Nappa (or Napa) Leather

Our lambskin leather is classed as nappa leather. (As you will realise below, the correct spelling is ‘napa’ but both spellings are in common use.)

So what is nappa leather? Nappa leather is a full grain leather that comes from the skin of lambs or kids. It is one of the most expensive kinds of leather because the way it is treated and dyed has to be done with the utmost care. The term ‘napa’ refers to the particular tanning process involved – napa tannage – so called because this process was first invented by a man called Emanuel Manasse who worked for a tannery in Napa, California in 1875. The leather produced is of the highest quality – it is very supple, beautifully lightweight and wears well compared to other leathers. It is may be described as having a ‘butter soft’ feel. It often develops a patina, a soft sheen that gives each garment its unique character or ‘personality’.

One word of caution – in more recent years, ‘nappa’ has become more commonly used (or misused!) to mean that the leather is soft, but this may have been made from a less expensive leather such as cowhide, as in ‘nappa cowhide’. True nappa, however, is lamb/sheepskin and is therefore a higher quality and more expensive grade of leather.

Aniline Leather

‘Aniline’ refers to the type of finish used on the leather after the tanning process. Types of finish used on leather include aniline (full aniline and semi-aniline) and pigmented. Nappa leather can have any of these finishes. Aniline leather is the most natural-looking leather since it is less treated than other leathers. Aniline leather is coloured only with dye (originally an ‘aniline’ dye) and has not received a surface coating of polymer and pigment – a bit like staining wood instead of painting it. It also has a softer sheen which is less shiny than leathers with a classic finish. The unique surface characteristics and natural beauty of the original skin are thus more visible. Because of this, the skins used must be of the highest quality – only a small percentage of skins are good enough for this type of finish and so aniline leather is more expensive. It is, however, less resistant to soiling.

Semi-aniline leather

The superior leathers used in our finest quality clothing are classed as semi-aniline leather. This is aniline leather that has also been given a light surface coating containing a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent colour and gives some stain resistance. It is thus more durable than full aniline leather, has a slightly higher sheen and yet while retains its natural appearance.

Products made from finest quality semi-aniline leather include some of our women’s pencil skirts and black leather trousers, as shown in the examples below:

 

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Cherry Red Leather Pencil Skirt knee length
Leather Pencil Skirt, luxury soft, knee length
RRP £299.99. A classy and elegant leather pencil skirt in a superior soft smooth semi-aniline nappa leather. The leather has a special waxed finish which gives a subtle shading effect. It is knee-length and beautifully tailored for a shapely flattering fit. It is styled with two side slant pockets and a rear vent. Fully lined. We also have larger sizes for the fuller figure. Exclusive to Tout Ensemble by Ashwood. A matching waistcoat is also available to wear as an outfit.Available in black, cognac tan and cherry red.

Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£299.99 £179.99

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Brown Leather Pencil Midi Skirt rear zip vent
Luxury Leather Midi Pencil Skirt, rear zip vent
RRP £249.99. A very elegant high class leather pencil skirt, exquisitely tailored in finest quality, luxuriously soft and smooth lambskin nappa. It is styled to give a close shapely fit and elegant line. It is a below-knee or midi length (approx. 26in/66cm from waist to hem) and features a 12in fine hidden zip at the back which you can leave closed or open to form a vent. By Ashwood. Available in black, dark brown and deep burgundy (Note: the brown and burgundy are very deep/dark shades.)Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£249.99 £149.99

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Womens Superior Black Soft Leather Trousers
Womens Superior Black Soft Leather Trousers
RRP £399.99. Just exquisite! These are extra special womens leather trousers for smart wear. They are made in sumptuously soft semi-aniline leather. This is a superior nappa which is less processed and therefore a more natural soft leather. A classic style, the leather trousers are slim-fitting, superbly tailored to fit at the waist, with a waistband, and follow the curvature of the body with a smooth line.  By Ashwood.Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£399.99 £149.99

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Pigmented leather has not been dyed but has been received only a polymer surface coating containing pigments. This gives a more even appearance to the leather and is more durable but less natural-looking than aniline leathers, so that the natural markings from the skins will be less evident. Pigmented leathers can be used for various products including clothing, handbags, upholstery and furniture. The quality of pigmented leathers will vary, depending on the skins used and the amount of pigment used etc, so it is vital that these are selected with care for fine quality clothing.

Waxed Finish

A fine layer of wax has been applied by hand to the aniline nappa leather. This gives the leather a subtle layering of shading and tone. Examples of our clothing that have this finish are some our men’s and women’s leather waistcoats.

 

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Mens Tan Leather Waistcoat back belt
Mens Luxury Leather Waistcoat, back buckle belt (10 colours)

RRP £219.99 This top quality mens leather waistcoat is great for smart or smart-casual wear. Made from luxury soft lambskin nappa that has a special waxed finish that gives a subtle shading effect visible on the lighter shades. The waistcoat is styled for a snug tailored fit and features an adjustable back belt and quality lining. Available in chest sizes up to 56in/142cm in Black, Brown and Tan and also in exciting new colours including Beige, Mustard (yellow), Wine (red) and Blue!

Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£219.99 £99.99

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Mens Beige Smart Leather Trousers Jeans
Mens Smart Lambskin Leather Trousers Jeans
(FREE £50 LEATHER BELT.) RRP £389.99. Fantastic high quality! These are our ‘top of the range’ mens leather trousers or jeans for smart or smart-casual wear. They have been expertly tailored in butter soft, smooth lambskin nappa leather that has a special finish which gives a soft sheen and subtle shading effect for added flair. They are in a jeans-style with waistband with belt loops, back pockets and stitching detail on all seams. Made exclusively for Tout Ensemble by Ashwood. Great to wear with our mens black leather shirt too.12 colours – including black, tan, red, navy, blue, beige, stone, and grey.

Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

 

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£389.99 £159.99

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Ladies Red Leather Waistcoat
Womens Luxury Leather Waistcoat, back belt
RRP £219.99. A superbly tailored ladies leather waistcoat in finest quality luxury soft semi-anline nappa leather. The leather has been given a special waxed finish which gives a subtle shading effect for added style, visible on the cherry and cognac leathers. The waistcoat is styled to be a slim fit when fastened, tapering in slightly at the waist. It features an adjustable back belt, stitching detail at the seams and 4 metal buttons for fastening at the front. Fully lined. Made exclusively for Tout Ensemble by Ashwood. This is also available as an outfit with matching pencil skirt.Available in black, cherry red and cognac tan. (Black also available in larger sizes 42in-46in bust.)

Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£219.99 £94.99

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Glazed Finish

This is one of the oldest finishing methods which polishes the leather under heavy pressure after applying a layer of protein additive such as albumen (from egg white). This enhances the colour tones and gives a shine to the surface. The friction from rubbing creates heat which darkens the colour tones and raises some of the oils to the surface, thus producing a natural depth and beauty.  The heat also hardens the finish and so it slightly stiffens the leather. Some of our women’s trousers and skirts have a glazed finish, for example:

 

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Red leather lycra strip pencil skirt
Ashwood Luxury Real Genuine Leather & Lycra Skirt, Knee Length
RRP £249.99. A unique high quality leather pencil skirt tailored in fine quality lambskin nappa. The skirt has an upper panel in leather, and the lower main body of the skirt consists of a combination of lycra and leather.. Fully lined. By Ashwood.Available in black, tan and cherry red. (Note: both the tan and cherry red have a glazed, slightly shiny finish.)

Please see our Product Information below for full details and important sizing information.

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£249.99 £169.99

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Ladies Black Slim Fit Leather Trousers, matt finish, belt loops
Womens Black Leather Trousers Jeans
RRP £299.99. A great pair of figure-hugging ladies/womens black leather trousers in a jeans style, made in fine quality lambskin nappa leather. Choose between leather that has either a softer ‘matt’ finish or a special ‘glazed’ finish that gives a subtle shine and a more robust feel to the leather. The trousers have a waist-high waistband with belt loops (the matt finish is available with or without belt loops). They have two back pockets with stitching detail and two front pockets. They have a front zip fastening with a button in the waistband. Lining down to below the knee. Made for exclusively for Tout Ensemble by Ashwood.Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£299.99 £179.99

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Buffed Leather

Whereas the typical finish for soft leather gives a subtle natural sheen, buffed leather has been brushed or lightly buffed so that it has a matt finish with no sheen. Our men’s and women’s leather gilets have this matt finish.

 

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Mens Tan Leather Gilet
Mens Leather Gilet Bodywarmer Waistcoat
RRP £349.99. A classic Barbour-style fine quality leather gilet body warmer – great for casual or smart-casual wear –  it has been tailored from soft lambskin nappa that has been buffed to give it a natural matt, slightly ‘worn’ appearance. The leather is naturally windproof and the light quilted lining also gives added comfort and warmth. It has a stand-up collar with press-stud fastener, plus 4 more press-stud fasteners along the front over a full length zip. There are 2 deep front pockets with press-stud fasteners plus two inside breast pockets, one with zip fastening. Made by Fenland (UK).Available in dark brown or tan.

Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£349.99 £179.99

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Ladies Brown Leather Gilet faux fur collar
Womens Brown Leather Gilet with faux fur collar
RRP £359.99. Ladies – are you looking for something smarter and more stylish than your average gilet or body warmer? Then this Barbour-style naturally windproof sleeveless leather gilet with faux fur collar and laps could be just the one for you. It has been expertly tailored from high quality lambskin nappa that has been buffed to give a slight matt finish. It is subtly shaped in at the waist for a stylish snug fit. Fully lined. Wear outdoors or indoors whenever you want to have that extra warmth – it is so versatile and comfortable, you may find you hardly ever take it off! Also available in larger sizes for the fuller figure.Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£359.99 £149.99

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Suede

Suede is leather from the underside of the skin or hide, usually lamb, although goat, pig and calf are commonly used. This is more fibrous with a matt, napped finish and is soft and pliable. However, because it does not include the tough exterior layer of the skin, it is less durable than standard ‘full grain’ leather.

Only the finest skins are selected for the suede used in our suede skirts and this is therefore of the highest quality, soft and smooth.

 

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Brown long suede full midi skirt
Long Suede Leather Asymmetric Full Midi Skirt
RRP £599.99. A most gorgeous, elegant long suede leather full skirt with an asymmetric (uneven) hemline, exquisitely tailored made in finest quality smooth and luxury soft suede. It sits a little below the waist and has a beautiful fullness and flare. Length approx. 34in-39in. (Easy to shorten if required.) It has diagonal panelling detail, side zip and is fully lined. Made for Tout Ensemble by Ashwood.Available in dark brown, navy, olive, cinnabar red, sand, cappuccino.

Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£599.99 £369.99

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Tan Suede Mini Skirt
Tan Suede Mini Skirt
RRP £159.99. A lovely pale tan suede mini skirt made in gorgeously soft suede leather which can be worn for smart or more casual wear, day or evening. A classic style, it is superbly tailored to be close-fitting at waist and hips. It has a waistband with a metal popper stud at the back above the back zip fastening. There is stitching detail along all the seams. Fully lined.Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£159.99 £89.99

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Patent Leather

Patent leather is leather that has been given a high gloss, shiny finish. The original process was developed by Seth Boyden in 1818 in New Jersey and was so-called because this process was patented. Back then, a linseed coating was bonded to the leather but nowadays it is usually a petroleum product bonded to the leather. (The term patent leather has also been inaccurately used what is ‘poromeric’ imitation leather. This is a petroleum or vinyl product that is not real leather.)

 

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Pia Rossini Black Patent Leather Glove
Pia Rossini Black Patent Leather Gloves
Quite different and and special – ladies black patent leather gloves. Note: These are genuine leather, not PVC, and the patent process gives a ‘wet-look’ shine. Lined. By Pia Rossini.Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£69.99 £39.99

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Cowhide Leather

Our very limited range made from fine quality cowhide includes our men’s leather shirt and our women’s leather mini kilt:

 

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Mens Black Leather Shirt
Mens Soft Black Leather Shirt Jacket
RRP £349.99. An exceptional mens leather shirt for smart-casual wear, made in a soft high grade cowhide leather that has added durability. It is a classic style with an 8-press stud front fastening and matching press studs on breast pockets, cuffs and shoulder epaulettes. NOTE: It is a slim-fitting shirt so if your waist is larger than your chest, then you may not be able to fasten it comfortably, but you can wear it open over your T-shirt so it is more like a jacket. Looks great with our mens smart lambskin leather trousers (shown in our images here.)Please see our Product Description below for full details and important sizing information.

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£349.99 £149.99

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Ladies Black Leather Mini Skirt Kilt
Wrap-around Leather Mini Skirt Kilt
RRP £199.99. Sexy and easy to wear – this leather mini skirt, styled as a wrap-around leather kilt, is made from soft fine quality cowhide leather. It has a plain front panel and pleated sides and back. The snug-fitting waistband has a chrome buckle belt and velcro fastening. Length 14in/26cm. Wear with our Marlon Brando-style leather jacket as an outfit.Available in black and red.

Please see our Product Description below for more details and important sizing information.

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£199.99 £129.99

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We hope this gives you some useful insight into the types of fine quality leather we select for our clothing. Coupled with exquisite tailoring, we aim to bring you garments that you will look good in and enjoy wearing for years to come.

Alteration and Bespoke Tailoring Service

And just to remind you that we also offer an alteration and bespoke (‘made to measure’) service provided by our expert and experienced tailors.