What is Nappa Leather? Complete Guide

Many luxury goods are made of high-quality leather. There are various types of such leather, and Nappa leather is one of them. This leather is unique from other leather types because it is soft to feel, hardly wears out, and has an excellent quality.

What is Nappa leather, you may ask? What makes it different that people prefer goods made with it? For instance, people look out for Nappa leather car seats in high-end car models. Well, we are curious too and have found out a lot about this leather, its many uses, and many other things you’d like to know.

What is Nappa Leather?

Nappa or Napa leather is more like a term that describes strong, soft, and smooth leather. Nappa leather is mostly a full-grain leather that contains the hide’s outer layer called grain. The full-grain leather is not buffed or sanded to clear imperfections; rather, it’s just hairs that have been removed from them.

The grain that the Nappa leather contains has fine fibers that make its surface durable, strong, and able to hold up rough use. In addition, Napa leather can be dyed in various colors, which makes it great for making various leather goods.

Where does Nappa leather come from? Emmanuel Manasse, who worked in a tanning company in Napa, California, first made the Nappa leather in 1875, and the leather got its name from there. This leather is produced from the skin of a sheep, kid, or lamb without splitting.

Artificial tannins like chromium sulfate or aluminum sulfate are used in tanning this leather. These tannins are known for their durability and softness. After the tanning process, it is then dyed to get numerous colors for various uses.

nappa leather bag

Types of Nappa Leather

Nappa leather comes in different types and colors. They include:

  • Slightly pigmented Nappa leather: this is napa leather that is dyed using water-soluble colorants. They are less vulnerable to scrape and light. Also, they are smoother and even.
  • Chrome-tanned Nappa leather: this Nappa leather type is very smooth to feel. They are not painted or coated, making the natural features of the animal hide to be visible. However, they are sensitive to dirt, and their pores are unsealed.
  • Aniline leather: aniline leather is another type of Nappa leather. The leather is treated using aniline colorants. They have nice and even surfaces and they also don’t wear out fast.

Nappa leather can also be grouped based on its source, such as Nappa leather from the skins of lamb, sheep, goat, and so on. In addition, they are sometimes grouped based on color, such as brown Nappa leather, cream Nappa leather, black Nappa leather, etc.

How to Care for Nappa Leather

Taking proper care of Nappa leather is important because they have natural fibers. Therefore, there is a need to keep them clean as proper Nappa leather care will help them to last longer and still look good.

Always remember to test cleaners on a small part of the leather to ensure no negative reaction. You may continue to use the entire material if it takes it well but don’t use it if you notice any negative reaction.

nappa leather car seats

How to Clean Nappa Leather

There are a number of supplies you need to clean your Nappa leather. They include a cotton washcloth, dishwashing soap or leather cleaner, a spray leather protectant, and a lint-free cloth.

You can clean Nappa leather usually by rubbing a moist piece of cloth over its surface. The cloth shouldn’t be too wet nor too dry. When the cloth is too wet, it may stain the leather if it’s the unfinished type, while a dry cloth won’t penetrate enough to remove dust and dirt.

If the leather has stubborn dirt or stains, you may have to get a leather cleaner to help you clean it thoroughly. It is best to buy leather cleaners meant for gentle leather when getting a leather cleaner for Nappa leather to avoid damage.

How to condition Nappa Leather

There may be a need to condition your Nappa leather if it doesn’t have surface finishes because the leather fibers dry out faster than other leather types. Conditioned Nappa leather becomes more flexible, feels better to touch, and resistant to scratches.

Conditioning involves the application of a cream, wax, or oil to the leather surface after cleaning. You can apply the conditioner with a soft cloth or an applicator and let the leather absorb it. Remember to apply it in small circles, allow it to soak in, and wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.

Even before using your Nappa leather item for the first time, it is essential to spray it with water and stain protectants to protect it from liquid damage. In addition, wax-based cleaners may damage Nappa leather so, it’s best to avoid them.

For storage, it is best to store your napa leather in places that are cool and dry. Ensure to keep it away from moisture and direct sunlight and, if possible, store it in its original box. Also, try to clean the leather and apply a spray protectant before storing it away for long.

Nappa Leather Products

Nappa leather is used to make various leather goods because of its soft nature and durability. Such items include:

  • Handbags
  • Pouches
  • Upholstery for automobile
  • Jackets
  • Furniture upholstery
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Travel bags
  • Wallets
  • Shoes
  • Covers for notebooks
  • Briefcases

Leather goods that are made with Nappa leather are high-quality luxury items.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is Nappa leather real leather?

Nappa leather is real leather. It is a high-quality leather made from full-grain leather, and its hide is usually from lambs, goats, and calves. The hides of Nappa leather are supple and softer, making it quality leather.

Q: What is the difference between Nappa leather and leather?

Leather is a term used to refer to different leather types and qualities, while Nappa refers to a distinct leather of superior quality that is flexible, smooth, and soft. It is a unique group of leather in that larger set.

Another obvious difference between Nappa leather vs leather is that Nappa leather typically has a natural, uncorrected grain surface of high quality, while Leather can have various treatments applied to change its surface.

When it comes to car seats, a significant contrast between leather and Nappa leather seats shows in the seats’ smoothness. The seats of Nappa leather are smoother and gives the driver an incredibly comfortable seat but normal leather doesn’t offer such a level of comfort.

Q: How good is Nappa leather?

Nappa leather is a unique full-grain leather. It is soft and has an interior that gives a natural feel and looks that is sealed with a dedicated finish. When the finish and pigmentation are applied to this Nappa leather, it lasts longer and different from other types of leather.

Q: What is Nappa leather made of?

Nappa leather is a supple, unsplit leather of full-grain made from lamb, sheep, or kid’s hides. This leather is tanned with artificial tannins like chromium or aluminum sulfate. The full-grain here means that there is no other modification on the hide’s surface except hair removal.

Q: Is Nappa leather expensive?

Yes. It is one of the most expensive leather types available in the market. The reason is that this leader is full-grain and made from the hides of lamb, goats, and sometimes calfskin. Nappa leather is smooth, lightweight, and does not wear easily.

A coating can be applied to its surface to make it smoother and attractive while adding to its durability. These qualities are why it is used in the making of luxury leather goods such as shoes, luggage, handbags, jackets, gloves, and so on.

Q: Does Nappa leather age well?

Yes, Nappa leather lasts for a long time. They even last much longer if you take better care of them and such proper care makes them look better as they age. Also, when you clean them regularly and do other maintenance, they tend to look younger than their real age.

Q: Is Nappa leather waterproof?

Nappa leather is not waterproof, but it is possible to waterproof it. The first step to waterproofing leather is cleaning and conditioning it. After that, you’ll apply the wax protectant on the leather’s surface and let it stay for some minutes.

Next is to buff the leather’s surface to smoothen it, make it shiny, and create a barrier that’ll make it repel water. You can also apply acrylics such as resolene to the leather’s surface to give it a perfect and durable finish. The acrylic finish gives the leather a transparent and thin coating.

Waterproofing your Nappa leather is great but has its disadvantage because if its layer becomes too strong, it may become difficult to get to the leather itself and give it a thorough cleaning. But, it all depends on what you choose.

Q: Is Nappa leather strong?

Yes, Nappa leather is strong. It is made from full-grain leather of high quality. The skin has no modification except the removal of hairs. So, it has closely packed fibers that are smoother and finer, making its surface very strong.

Aside from having a strong surface, it is also durable and has the ability to tolerate rough use.

Final Words

Nappa leather is indeed a unique and elegant material used in the production of luxury items, upholstery, or apparel. The leather may be expensive but, it is worth every penny you spend on it because of its high quality, fine appearance, and durability.

So, if you’ve been wondering or asking the question, what is Nappa leather? We are hopeful that you find all you need to know about this full-grain leather that has awesome features.


I am an Architect Engineer by profession with great interest in web and content creation. I have used leather products for a long time, which has increased my enthusiasm, knowledge, and understanding of leather. I am here to shed light on the leather and guide you on choosing the best leather products.

Recent Posts