Annual Shutdown Period

We are closed for our annual summer shutdown from Monday 14th September 2020, re-opening Monday 21st September. During this period our phones will be switched off and all enquiries (emails/contact forms) will be dealt with in full upon our return to the office. After an extremely busy and stressful 5 months (we remained open the entire time working 7-day shift patterns), the whole John Skinner team is looking forward to a well-deserved break. Please respect this, and thank you for your patience.

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Leather: Grained, Smooth and Antiqued

We offer our leather in three different finishes; Grained, Smooth and Antiqued. Each quality has its own unique appearance.

Here, we take a closer look at the characteristics of our leathers including the reasons behind their finishes and their ageing processes based on their different surfaces.

Leather – Key Facts

As a natural product, leather behaves differently to materials manufactured on a roll. Below are some useful facts to consider when using leather in your restoration project:

  • Leather has no regular shape or size. Our hides are roughly 50 ft2 but the shape of their outer edges will be different from hide to hide and the useable amount of the hide will depend on its degree of scarring.
  • Much like our own skin, a single hide will have variations in thickness and have areas which are softer and harder than others.
  • The same hide can have both smooth and naturally grained areas.
  • As a natural product, hides have various marks, scratches and scar damage.
  • Mechanical graining was introduced as a manufacturing process to hide scarring and imperfections in order to make more use of the hide and reduce waste.
  • Leather can be skived (made thinner) to increase its flexibility and suitability for purpose. We offer this service as standard for all relevant leather parts in our Trim Kits. You can read more about this in our Handbook post – What is Leather Skiving?

Dyed Leather – Useful Information

Over the years, manufacturing processes have adapted to improve the durability of leather. A process this is particularly relevant to is leather dyeing.

On original production lines, leather hides were ‘surface-dyed.’ This meant that the dye was only applied to the outer surface of the leather, leaving the underside of the leather as its natural colour. As the leather aged and cracked, the natural colour of the leather would show through.

XK120 Roadster OTS Two-Tone Seats
The original leather used to these XK120 Roadster OTS Two-Tone seats has cracked with age and wear, showing the natural colour of the leather underneath the surface dye
XK120 Roadster OTS seats
The cracked leather on these original XK120 Roadster OTS seats shows the natural colour of the leather through the green surface dye

All the hides we use in our workshop today are dyed in their entirety. This means that the complete depth and thickness of the leather, including the underside, will pick up the colour of the surface dye. This helps prolong the life of the leather, as any ageing or damage will be less noticeable.

Grained Leather

Grained Leather is our most popular choice for restoration projects and is available in our widest colour range.

These leathers are mechanically embossed with a graining pattern during the manufacturing process to give them a textured surface finish. This graining gives an authentic look to the leather, whilst also hiding any naturally occurring scarring, blemishes or colour variations which would prevent full use of the hide in production. The usability of these hides makes them a more cost-effective option for those wanting a leather interior but are mindful of budget.

Like all our leathers, our Grained Leather gets better with age, and the grained finish works to enhance any creasing and blemishes that naturally develop with use.

The grained surface finish on this leather makes it a good match for our vinyl materials which have also been mechanically grained to emulate the look of leather. Where customers are looking for LeatherFaced seat restorations, Grained Leather is an ideal choice.

MGA Roadster OTS Seat Kit and Centre Cushion Armrest in Matador Red Leather and Vinyl
Matador Red Grained Leather has been used alongside Matador Red Vinyl in this MGA Roadster OTS Seat Kit and Centre Cushion Armrest. There is a good match of colour and texture between the two materials.
Matador Red Grained Leather
Matador Red Grained Leather

Smooth Leather

Our Smooth Leather is most akin to original specification leather used in classic cars up until the mid 1960’s. This is the natural look of leather (prior to any mechanical graining effects being applied) that has been manufactured to replicate the original Connolly Vaumol™ leather used on several British classic car manufacturers, including Jaguar. For this reason, it remains the leather of choice for high end and luxury restorations.

The smooth surface finish shows naturally occurring variations, blemishes and imperfections, making this a characterful & very beautiful leather. Although smooth leather is more prone to scuffing & creasing, this is generally appreciated as a sign of character that comes with use. It gives an impeccable and pristine look when fitted.

Austin Healey BN7 in Pale Shadow Blue Smooth Leather
This Austin Healey BN7 has been given an immaculate looking restoration with Smooth Pale Shadow Blue Leather
Pale Shadow Blue Smooth Leather
Pale Shadow Blue Smooth Leather

Antiqued Leather

Antiqued leather was used on original factory production lines to meet the demand for aged-looking leather, and is still used today. To achieve the look, grained hides are over-printed with black dye to give an authentic mottled effect to the surface. Our Antiqued Leather is available in a small range of six colours.

Antique leather remains a popular choice for restorers looking to re-create the vintage worn-in feel of a natural leather patina.

E-Type Roadster OTS in Old Beige Antiqued Leather
This E-Type Roadster OTS was restored with an aged-look and worn-in patina using our Old Beige (Antiqued) leather
Old Beige Antiqued Leather
Old Beige Antiqued Leather

You can view all the colours available in our three different leather finishes in our Material and Colour Library.