Leather and sport

For its strength and its comfort, leather has always been linked to the world of sport. Still today, despite competition from synthetic materials, it remains an essential partner for sportspeople. And its reach has become more extensive with the growing presence of sport in daily and urban life.

In the starting blocks

Leather is not just for dress shoes – sneakers, tennis shoes and running shoes make good use of leather for its unrivalled comfort and strength under all circumstances. The most strenuous footballers could opt for models made from kangaroo leather, recognised for unrivalled quality. And even for inners, leather can find its place.
We are currently making an item in soft and fine (0.4 mm) vegetable-tanned lamb leather for Nike, which will be used to line certain models of sneakers,” the manager of Emelda Tannery tells us. But taking into account its relatively high price, leather is now mainly used on urban sneakers, to which it adds a welcome touch of chic. “We have developed an article in lamb leather specially for sneakers, which is thicker (around 1mm) and has a stronger covering meaning it is less fragile, and offers a firm handle similar to that of calfskin,” explains the representative from Mégisserie Richard. Curtidos Bassols has specially designed a mixed chrome and vegetable tanned sheep leather item for sneakers, with a thickness of 0.8 to 1mm and a soft finish. A similar item is made by Tess, where its director underlines its very attractive pricing, “half the cost of calfskin.”
Tanneries Haas offers an item in quite soft calfskin, embossed with a caviar grain and perforated using a stamp, bringing to mind the appearance of mesh while maintaining the nobility of leather. “There is no reason why this leather could not be used for a bag, in a similar sport vibe,” noted the commercial director of the company. Also, to evoke the popular mesh appearance without losing the elegance of leather, the Spanish tannery Hosbo embosses a concave ovoid grain onto a goat leather, which it then covers with a waterproof finish. And let us not forget nature lovers who, for their long walks over sometimes hostile terrain, demand comfort and reliability.
Robust and comfortable, the bull leather from Dani, which is resistant to sweat and water and rather substantial (between 1.8 and 3 mm thick), available in a nubuck version, or with an aniline or pigmented finish, is undoubtedly the best ally of experienced hikers.

Thick lamb leather for sneakers from Mégisserie Richard

Mixed tanned sheep leather from Curtidos Bassols for sneakers

Items in bull leather, with a nubuck or pigmented finish, from Dani for walking shoes

(Large skin) sheep leather from Tess for sneakers

Grained and perforated calfskin from Tannerie Haas

Goat leather with a mesh embossing from Hosbo

Goat leather with a mesh embossing from Hosbo

The number one shirt

The ultimate noble material, leather can also be used to produce luxurious versions of sportswear, such as windcheaters, which have to be light and windproof.
Extra-fine lamb leather (0.3 – 0.4 mm) from FC Creacio Innovacio, covered with a water repellent, “very strong” paper or a neoprene finish,  is ideal for the production of windcheaters and other premium puffa coats. “We can laminate it with an iridescent film, which gives it a similar appearance to the synthetic materials typically used for this type of clothing,” notes a manager from the Spanish company.
In contrast, another company, Indutan, prefers to use a pearly finish that conserves the rounded texture of leather to create a changeable appearance. Similarly, perforated leather can resemble mesh, with added sensuality, rather like the lamb suede from Riba Guixa and the dipped lamb from Mégisserie Lauret. For more comfortable items such as bomber jackets, parkas and sweatshirts, the laminated items by Marmara Deri, in shearling merino lamb on polyamide or smooth lamb leather (0.4mm thick) on wool and cotton jersey, prove to be excellent choices.
In a more glamorous and unrestrained style, the, chrome-tanned silver-laminated stretch lamb from Mégisserie de la Molière could be used for sports shorts – in a gym, ideally.
Lastly, for its strength and its grained appearance, goat leather is ideal for entire items of sportswear or for features that add strength, particularly when it has been waterproofed “by the addition of a chemical product, such as an oil, at the dyeing stage, to save time,” the representative from Derisay Deri tells us.
In the panoply of sports gear, gloves are an indispensable accessory for certain disciplines such as climbing, skiing or motorcycling, and are subject to major constraints such as tearing, rubbing, perforation and contact with water. Specialists in the product, Tanneries Pechdo offers a number of items in chrome tanned bovine side whose intrinsic softness, acquired during the tanning and the wet stages is ideal for moulding to the shape of the hand. “The various resistances are added throughout the process…Goat leather is also suitable for making sports gloves, with the advantage of being easier to cut out and less narrow,” explains the company’s technician.

Extra-fine lamb leather, water resistant, paper and neoprene texture from FC Creacio Innovacio

Lamb leather with an iridescent film from FC Creacio Innovacio

Lamb with a pearly finish from Indutan

Shearling merino lamb bonded onto nylon by Marmara Deri

Smooth lamb leather bonded onto wool and cotton jersey by Marmara Deri

Silver laminated stretch lamb by Mégisserie de la Molière

Waterproof goat suede by Derisay Deri

Bovine flank from Tanneries Pechdo for sports gloves

Goat leather from Tanneries Pechdo for sports gloves


Saddled with leather

Although it has become less common in our urban societies, horse-riding still remains a sport in its own right, and enjoys an ancestral affinity with leather. Comfortable for the rider as well as for his mount, leather also offers the mechanical properties needed for the durability of the products. But the various parts of a horse’s tack require different types of leather.
So, for the saddle seat, a mineral tanned bovine leather that is relatively supple and from 1.4 – 1.6 up to 2.8 – 3.0 mm thick is needed, such as that offered by Tannerie Arnal, which combines rub resistance, weather resistance and ease of assembly. For the lateral parts, very thick vegetable-tanned bovine butt (4 to 4.5 mm), combines firmness and a good hold over time, while moulding to the shape of the horse. “The leather must resist all the usage conditions and be washable with soapy water then oiled for maintenance,” explains a manager from the Fortier Beaulieu Masure tannery, which recommends an aniline or semi-aniline finish for the more top-of-the range models. Lastly, for accessories such as straps and stirrup leathers, the Arnal tannery recommends chrome-tanned bovine leather some 4 or 4.45 to 5 or 5.5 mm thick that has been extended to “remove its stretch,” while Sovos Grosjean recommends 3mm vegetable-tanned shoulder for its resistance to extension and its reasonable price.
But let us not forget another leather saddle that fans chic and comfort in this sport particularly appreciate – the bicycle saddle. “Only a very thick (4 to 5 mm) vegetable-tanned bovine leather, for its capacity to be moulded and its strength, with a firmly fixed colour and a degree of finish, is suitable for this purpose,” a member of staff from Fortier Beaulieu Masure tells us, specialists in this type of item. Leather is the right material for champions in all categories!

Leather horse-riding saddle from Tannerie Arnal

Bovine leather for sides of horse-riding saddle from Fortier Beaulieu Masure

Vegetable tanned shoulder for straps and stirrup leathers from Tannerie Sovos Grosjean

Find out leather for your sourcing on the Première Vision marketplace.

Previous post A new emphasis on sustainability: introducing a Smart Creation area for select Première Vision exhibitors! Next post What if the solution were to be found in nature?