About Exotic Leather

The subject of exotic leather is a pretty large one but we will endeavour to guide you through the most important aspects of this side of our business.

To start with and most importantly you should know that the trade in exotic skins is strictly controlled by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). This is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

As such movement of any skins that fall under CITES regulation can only occur with specific documentation showing its origins. Each time a skin moves to another country a certificate must be issued by the local governing body to show its provenance and the other countries it may have moved through.

In doing so a skin can be traced back to its origins to ensure that is has been lawfully procured.

The type of skins we refer to as exotic are : Python, Iguana, Tejus, Ostrich, Stingray, Crocodile, Alligator & Shark.

We term these ‘exotic’ skins simply to differentiate them from what we would call normal ‘leather’.

It is important to know that exotic skins come from animals that have been sustainably farmed and only in exceptional cases are taken from the wild.

In many cases the actual skin is a by product of the food chain.

Below we have listed the main exotic skin types along with details of their origin, CITES status and features.


Origin Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam
Features Python skin is very soft and is known for its colour variations and elasticity. Scales will rise up slightly in time, this is not a defect but part of the character of the leather.

Lacquered- To give the skin a glossy sheen - this technique will make the leather slightly thicker.

This finish has a higher infusion of oils that make the final product softer to the touch and more pliable.

CITES Yes – Can ship within the UK only.
Comment Sustainably farmed for both meat and skin

Iguana / Varani

Origin Central America, Mexico, Bolivia
Features Uniquely textured skin which has a small neat pattern. Hides are thin but are not prone to tearing. This makes the leather durable and resilient
CITES Yes – Can ship within the UK only
Comment Sustainably farmed for both skin and meat – the meat is extensively used for cooking in Mexico and Central America.


Origin Central America, Mexico, Bolivia
Features The key feature of this leather is the natural light and dark pigmented pattern. This pattern is unique to every hide. This gives a natural tonality to any dye that is applied to the leather.
CITES Yes – Can ship within the UK only
Comment Sustainably farmed for both meat and skin although occasional culls occur where animals are taken from the wild – the meat is extensively used for cooking in Mexico and Central America.


Origin USA (Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia)
Features Alligator compared to crocodile has less natural imperfections in the leather. Overall it has a cleaner more uniform look. The size of the alligator tiles is directly related to its size, smaller is more desirable as it more clearly expresses the pattern. It is a slightly thicker and softer skin.

Glazed - this finish results in a smooth shiny glossy leather look. The skin is compressed and polished to a high gloss shine with a polishing stone. The resulting leather is slightly thinner, shinier and shows more tightly spaced scales. The surface is marginally stiffer and a little less durable. This finish is more classically associated with exotic leather. The shine will fade away with time but can in theory be repolished.

Matte - This is a more understated natural look. It is the result of low pressure low speed buffing using a combination of natural waxes and oils. The leather remains soft supple and exceptionally durable. It can be flexed repeatedly with little or no signs of wear. It is resilient to abrasions as the finish penetrates deeper into the leather.

CITES Yes – Can ship within the UK only
Comment Sustainably farmed but also caught in the wild during specified culling periods. Used for both meat and skin.


Origin Bolivia, Colombia, Indonesia, Australia, Africa

Porosus/Nile (Salt water) – Rarely used for belts but the most expensive. Porosus crocodiles grow to 5m in length

Caiman – These are smaller crocodiles with a more boney skin. They grow to 1.5-2m long at most. The belly and flanks are smooth but the tail does have significant bone which makes it more prone to breaking.


Flank - The pattern is like lots of little ovals. As its name implies comes from the side of the Crocodile. This is also referred to as Belly. This is the most expensive part of the skin as it is finer and more elegant.

Tail – This cut has less pattern with occasional vertical ridges.

Most crocodile belts, due to skin size, are made with one join. The flanks are long enough to make one belt but due to the angle of the flank where it joins the leg it is normally very hard to cut a straight piece that is long enough. This will also depend on the size of the animal and therefore the length of skin produced.

Features Classic elegant leather which is very well known and sought after. It’s a supple leather that is very soft to the touch. Crocodiles have sensory hair which they use to feel their environment, after tanning the hair is gone but pore on each scale remains. It is most clearly seen of the tail, this is one way of telling crocodile apart from alligator.

Crocodile is available in the classic high polished lacquer, matte as well as a semi-gloss which meets in the middle of the two finishes. Some of the brighter skins have undergone a special dye treatment which is buffed on to the leather by hand. This finish gives a beautiful richness and depth of colour to the leather.

CITES Yes – Can ship within the UK only
Comment Sustainably farmed for both meat and skin.


Origin South Africa

Body – The version that looks like it has little dots on it – which are actually where the quills/feathers of the Ostrich are removed from. This skin is very soft and elegant. The shape is quite irregular and not that wide therefore for belt making we are obliged to join at least 2 strips together to create a single belt.

Leg – This is a much smoother shinier looking skin with what looks like little waves running through it. The skins are quite small (generally about 40cm long and about 13cm wide) therefore to be made into a belt we are obliged to cut the skin into 3-4 strips and then join together to make a belt.

Features Ostrich is a luxurious leather well known for its softness, flexibility and durability. In spite of its softness, Ostrich leather is unsurpassed for its tactile strength. It is, in fact one of the strongest leathers available. Naturally occurring oils in the leather contribute to its durability, preventing cracking, even under extreme temperatures and sun exposure.
CITES No – Can ship worldwide.
Comment Farmed widely for its meat. Ostrich skin is very much a by product of the food industry.

Stingray / Manta Ray

Origin Thailand, Indonesia
Cut Types There are 2 types of Ray available that provide us with either an oval shaped skin with one spine detail (Manta) or a long thin skin with a continuous spine detail (Highway). We only use the Oval shaped skin which is around 40cm long and 30cm wide. As such a belt is made of usually 3-4 strips of skin that then have to be joined together.
Features Stingray skin is essentially cartilage so it is extremely hard to work with. You will see on our belts that the edges of the joins are cut in straight diagonal lines. These joins are glued together and glued over a small thin piece of metal. The edges of the belts once cut have to be polished and filed to achieve a smooth finish.
Finishes You will see Stingray with rougher and smoother surfaces – the rougher surface is naturally occurring but often less desirable so we tend to use a version that has been at least part polished. This means that the surface is filed down so that it is more malleable and softer to handle. The more you polish the skin the more the white of the cartilage is visible and the shinier the skin becomes.
CITES No – Can ship worldwide.
Comment Under no threat of extinction, this fish provides a useful protein food to many regions throughout Southeast Asia with the skin very much a by product.


Origin Blue sharks are an oceanic and epipelagic shark found worldwide in deep temperate and tropical waters.
Cut Types Shark hides are cut vertically the length of the body. This will showcase the natural grainy texture of the leather.
Features Shark skin is covered in small, close-set tubercles. It is known for its rough, course texture. In the cruder developments of shark skin, it has been used like sandpaper for polishing. However, the finer tanned shark skins are soft and malleable. Our shark skins have extra oils to produce a much softer, almost fabric-like or garment-grade leather.
CITES No – Can ship worldwide.
Comment The most common of the shark species commonly fished for its meat throughout South East Asia. The skin is very much a by product of the fishing industry.