The skins of crocodiles and other reptiles are widely used for the manufacturing of leather goods such as bags, wallets, belts, phone cases, etc. The pattern of crocodile leather makes a product unique because it is impossible to find an absolutely identical pattern. Let’s take a closer look at the properties of this exotic leather and how you can determine genuine skin.
Features of Crocodile Skin
Many species of crocodiles and alligators are endangered. Therefore, for crafting goods manufacturers use reptiles that are grown at crocodile farms. Crocodiles are grown mainly in Southeast Asia, alligators – in the United States. In captivity, crocodiles reproduce reluctantly since they need a lot of free space for life. The age of crocodiles for commercial manufacture is between 4 and 7 years. Dressing the skin of reptiles is a very complex, multi-stage process and it requires exceptionally manual work. These factors determine one of the main features of genuine crocodile leather – a high price.
Crocodile leather differs depending on the part of the animal’s body. The abdominal part is the most valuable and expensive. However, this croc belly skin is most often counterfeited and such a forgery, at times, can be hardly distinguished.
The head and tail have pronounced osteoderms – horny growths on the skin that form a rigid carapace of the animal – so called hornback leather. It’s often used to make cool small accessories, such as croc leather iPhone case.
The dorsal part of large crocodiles is rarely used in the manufacturing of leather goods. It is the most rigid and thick skin and can only be used as decorative elements, like this croc hornback iPhone case. However, the dorsal part of young reptiles is utilized more often. Such leather has a very rich and inviting appearance as well as excellent mechanical properties.
The most commonly used skin of alligators is the skin on the sides. However, the lateral skin of crocodiles has a less geometrically correct pattern than on the ventral part, which causes their lower value and cost.
What is Croc (or Crocodile) Embossed Leather?
The croc or crocodile embossed (sometimes called also stamped) leather hide is a particular material, normally of bovine or ovine origin, printed and finished with the aim of obtaining a look that is similar to the genuine reptile skin. The reasons for which such a type of finishing is used are mainly three:
- The first of an economic nature: printed hides are much cheaper than real reptile hides.
- The second concerns the ease of use: the printed leather is wider and has fewer defects than genuine reptile leather.
- Finally an ethical motivation: cowhides are a recycled material, animals are not bred for their coat, but for the food industry, unlike real reptile skins.
As regards the printing (or embossing) process, special presses are used on which different plates are mounted to impress a design with the help of the heat. The natural crocodile or alligator skins are very similar to each other and this effect is amplified in the case of the embossed (or printed) skins, since standard plates are used for every skin.
Crocodile Embossed (or Printed) VS Genuine Leather Hides
As already said, the real alligator leather or crocodile as well as being much more expensive and limited in terms of availability compared to printed cowhide, also presents ethical and management problems; in particular with regard to the certificates necessary for trade and production (CITES). Exotic natural leather is softer and more luxurious to the touch than the printed one, but it is also more delicate. The skins most imitated by the bovine counterparts are precisely those that are the most expensive; on the other hand, very rare leathers are printed with a caiman effect, since, among exotic skins, they are the least expensive and, consequently, the least artificially reproduced.
Instead of using alligators and crocodiles, many brands have turned to the lower cost option: creating their own reptile print on leather. Mock croc, or crocodile-embossed leather, is created with a machine that applies heat and a stamp, then presses super hard until there’s an impression on the leather, giving it the look and feel of the reptile skin. It creates a unique and beautiful texture that has depth and richness of reptile skin, but made with cowhide leather instead.
What’s Difference Between Genuine Croc Leather and Croc Embossed Leather
The most valuable and most often forged part of the crocodile skin is the abdominal area – crocodile belly leather. Forgeries and imitations of this skin type are most common. There are several reasons for this: this skin is the most expensive, and the embossed leather is maximally beneficial; there are almost no horny growths on the abdominal skin; and the thickness of the skin varies not so much in comparison with dorsal areas. Good imitations and forgeries are sometimes difficult to distinguish, but it is possible:
- The shape of the textured ‘cells’ of the natural crocodile skin is always different. There cannot be two identical “squares”, the same as there are no two identical fingerprints. In embossed leather, patterns are usually repeated.
- Even on the abdominal part of the reptile’s natural skin, there are underdeveloped osteoderms – the horny growths. They have a denser structure and, as a rule, cannot be dyed as deep as the other parts of the skin. Look closely at the uniformity of leather’s color. The absolutely uniform coloring is a reason for suspicion.
- The thickness of genuine crocodile skin cannot be uniform. Embossed skin that imitates crocodile has a uniform thickness throughout the area.
- The price. High production costs of crocodile leather make goods more expensive than that manufactured of embossed leather.
How to Care of Crocodile Leather Goods
The natural leather of these exotic animals is extremely durable and does not require special care. Nevertheless, if you want to prolong the life of your crocodile wallet or belt you should follow a few simple rules:
- Clean your crocodile leather goods once a week with a dry, clean cloth or paper towel;
- If you store your wallet or purse for a long period of time, place the product in a fabric bag; storing crocodile skin products in plastic bags can damage the delicate leather;
- Do not apply creams, liquids, waxes or glues to the leather;
- Do not leave products made of exotic leather in direct sunlight.
Some Real Crocodile Leather From Our Collections
Some croc leather iPhone cases are listed below. All them are made from real genuine crocodile leather. You can find more here.
You can find more detail here about how to distinguish genuine croc leather and embossed leather: https://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-a-Handbag-Is-Genuine-Crocodile