About Our Leather


There are two ways of the leather making process.

Vegetable tanned leather applies tannin extracted from plants. Hides are immersed for several times in vats of increasing concentrations of tannin. It takes a long time, but it has no harm to human body and also has more flexibility and endurance. The vegetable tanned leather is commonly used for leather craving and the bottom of shoes. Due to its high cost and long process, vegetable tanning has been gradually substituted by chrome tanning after Industry Revolution.

Chrome tanning uses a solution of chemicals, acids, and salts to tan the hide. It’s a very quick process to produce a piece of tanned leather. Chrome tanning is very bad for the environment, however, it gives the leather soft and supple touch. Chrome tanning is widely used nowadays for bags, jackets, and shoes.


Italian leather is certainly world famous, but does it mean that it uses only Italian cow? The answer is No. Some Italian leather may originally come from Europe, the States, or Latin America.

So why is Italian leather so well-known? The key is the unique vegetable tanning craftsmanship, which has been passed on for hundreds of years. Italian craftsmen’s technique allows the leather to be bright-colored and luxuriant. Hide from the different area may show different characters.

For example, cows from Latin America are usually free-range, the hide often shows scars and scrapes from insect bites or fighting. Cows from Europe are mostly kept in barns, so the hide is in the best condition. In the states, cows are bigger. So the usable surface is bigger, too.


Different parts of cow skin can generally vary to 4 kinds— the belly, the backbone, the butt, and the neck. The belly part skin appears wrinklier and has more insect bites. The backbone is usually cut into square shape, it has fewer scars and more dense structure. On the contrary, the butt part is the most rubbed area so it has more scratches and scars.

The neck can be distinguished by its crease and growth marks, it’s also the easiest part to tell whether its real leather or not. Japanese consumers specifically like the neck leather products due to the uniqueness, each one would have its own characters. We deliberately keep these natural marks of cow skin to show its original characters.


Full grain leather is the best leather which can be 3 to 5mm thick.

It comes from the top layer of the hide. The surface of full grain leather burnishes and beautifies with use. As a matter of course, natural full grain has scars and dermatoglyphics, therefore there is only about 70 to 80% can be used. Some full grain leather receives spray paint as make-up, to look smoother and shinier, but it may end up looking like cheap leather.

Top grain leather is the second highest grade because it is split from the top layer of blemished hide then sanded and refinished. With a layer of plastic imitation leather, this part can be free of scars and scrapes. Its price is much cheaper than full grain leather.

Full grain leather with good quality is rare, that’s why its value is so high. Alto insists to use high-quality full grain leather for the products, each item has its unique natural marks. We wish to share the beauty and value of fine leather with you.