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Exploring the World of Leather for Purse Manufacturing

Updated: Jun 19

Purse Manufacturer


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Purse manufacturing, an art that merges functionality with fashion, heavily relies on the quality and type of leather used. The choice of leather not only determines the aesthetic and tactile qualities of the final product but also its durability and cost. Let's delve into the different types of leather, their sources, processing methods, and the unique characteristics each brings to the table for purse manufacturers.

Types of Leather and Their Sources

  1. Cowhide Leather

  • Source and Farming: Cowhide leather is the most widely used leather in the fashion industry. Sourced from cattle, this leather is a by-product of the meat and dairy industry. Cattle farming for leather production typically involves raising cows in controlled environments where their health and diet are monitored to ensure high-quality hides.

  1. Crocodile Leather

  • Source and Farming: Crocodile leather is sourced from farmed crocodiles, primarily from regions like Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Crocodile farming is highly regulated to ensure sustainable practices and the protection of wild populations. It takes about 2-3 years for a crocodile to reach maturity for harvesting.

  1. Ostrich Leather

  • Source and Farming: Ostrich leather is obtained from farmed ostriches, primarily in South Africa, which is the leading producer. Ostriches are farmed for both their meat and their skins. It takes about 10-14 months for an ostrich to mature to a point where its skin is suitable for harvesting.

  1. Sheepskin Leather (Lambskin)

  • Source and Farming: Sheepskin leather is obtained from sheep, often as a by-product of the wool industry. Sheep farming for leather is widespread, with significant production in countries like New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. Lambs are typically harvested at a younger age for softer and more supple leather.

  • Processing: The hides are treated with care to retain their softness. Chrome tanning is the preferred method, producing a smooth, delicate leather.

  1. Calfskin Leather

  • Source and Farming: Calfskin leather is sourced from young cattle, providing a finer grain and smoother texture compared to mature cowhide. Calves are raised in environments that ensure the quality of their hides, often harvested within the first year of life.

  1. Synthetic and Artificial Leathers

  • Source and Farming: Synthetic leathers, such as PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), are man-made materials designed to mimic the appearance and texture of natural leather. They are produced in factories using various chemical processes.

The Leather Processing Journey

The journey from raw hide to finished leather involves several intricate steps:

  1. Preparation: Raw hides are cleaned and preserved through salting, soaking, and liming to remove hair and prepare them for tanning.

  1. Tanning: This crucial step stabilizes the proteins in the hide, preventing decomposition and making the leather durable. Common methods include:

  • Chrome Tanning: Uses chromium salts to produce a soft, supple leather that is resistant to water and heat.

  • Vegetable Tanning: Uses natural tannins from tree bark and plants, producing a firmer leather with a rich, natural color.

  • Aldehyde Tanning: Uses glutaraldehyde or oxazolidine compounds, resulting in a pale-colored, flexible leather.

  1. Retanning, Dyeing, and Fatliquoring: These processes add specific properties to the leather, such as color, softness, and water resistance.

  2. Finishing: The leather is conditioned, buffed, and coated with protective finishes to enhance its appearance and durability.

Pros and Cons of Different Leathers

Type of Leather



Suitability for Purse Manufacturing

Cowhide Leather

Durable, versatile, widely available

Can be heavy, varies in quality

Ideal for most purses, including everyday and luxury options

Crocodile Leather

Unique texture, highly durable, luxurious

Expensive, requires careful handling

Best for high-end, luxury purses

Ostrich Leather

Soft, flexible, distinctive pattern

Expensive, limited availability

Perfect for high-end, unique designs

Sheepskin Leather (Lambskin)

Soft, lightweight, luxurious feel

Less durable, prone to scratches

Ideal for luxury, delicate purses

Calfskin Leather

Fine grain, smooth texture, durable

More expensive than cowhide

Great for premium, high-quality purses

Synthetic Leathers (PU, PVC)

Affordable, animal-friendly, versatile

Less durable, can look artificial

Suitable for budget-friendly and fashion-forward purses


The world of leather for purse manufacturing is rich with variety, each type offering unique benefits and challenges. From the robustness of cowhide to the exotic appeal of crocodile and ostrich leathers, manufacturers have a plethora of choices to meet different market needs. Understanding the properties and processing methods of each type of leather helps in making informed decisions that align with the desired quality, durability, and aesthetic of the final product.

China's dominance in purse manufacturing is supported by its extensive access to raw materials, advanced processing technologies, and cost-effective production methods. However, each type of leather, whether natural or synthetic, plays a crucial role in defining the brand and quality of the purses produced, ensuring a wide range of options for consumers around the world.


  1. "Understanding Leather: A Guide to Types and Grades." Leather Working Group. Accessed June 12, 2024. Leather Working Group.

  2. "The Leather Processing Industry." International Journal of Leather Science. Accessed June 12, 2024. IJLS.

  3. "Sustainable and Ethical Leather: The Future of Fashion." Sustainable Fashion Forum. Accessed June 12, 2024. Sustainable Fashion Forum.


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