How Napa Leather Differs From Regular Leather

How Napa Leather Differs From Regular Leather

Have you heard of napa leather? It’s used in the construction of high-end leather garments. You can find jackets, dresses, skirts, shoes, belts and even furniture made of napa leather. Like all types of leather, it consists of tanned animal hide that’s been dried and out and processed for use as a textile. Napa leather, however, is distinguished from regular leather in several ways. For a better understanding of napa leather and how it differs from regular leather, keep reading.

The Basics of Napa Leather

Napa leather is a special type of leather that receives its namesake from the California city where it was invented. While working as a tanner at the Sawyer Tanning Company in the 1800s, Emanuel Manassee created the world’s first napa leather.

In the years to follow, others began to take notice of Manessee’s newly pioneered leather. This eventually led to other companies producing and using napa leather. Since then, napa leather has become synonymous with premium, high-end leather products. It’s used to make many of the same products as regular leather. Napa leather simply features unique characteristics that give it a premium look and feel.

Finer Grain

One of the main differences between napa leather and regular leather lies in the grain. They both have a textured surface that’s characterized by the presence of a grain. With that said, napa leather has a finer grain.

The grain refers to the outermost layer of real leather. If you rub your hands across the surface of real leather, you’ll feel many tiny bumps. These bumps are the grain. Napa leather has a finer grain consisting of more, as well as smaller, bumps than regular leather.

Softer Texture

With its finer grain, napa leather has a softer texture than regular leather. All types of real leather are soft. There’s no substitution for the softness of real leather. When compared to traditional textiles — cotton, wool, linen, etc. — real leather has a superior level of softness. Nonetheless, certain types of real leather are softer than others.

For the highest level of softness, you can’t go wrong with napa leather. Products made of napa leather have a finer grain than those made of standard leather. Therefore, they are naturally softer.

Of course, napa leather still requires regular maintenance to preserve its soft texture. If you have a jacket or any other garment made of napa leather, you should consider the following tips to keep it soft:

  • Avoid storing napa leather in direct sunlight. Sunlight can dry out all types of real leather — and napa leather is no exception.
  • Apply a conditioning cream once every couple of months. Conditioning napa leather will help to moisturize and hydrate it. As a result, it will keep your napa leather garment soft.
  • Don’t use chemical-based cleaning products. Many cleaning chemicals are harsh and can damage common textiles like napa leather.
  • If your napa leather garment is dirty, use warm water and mild dish soap to spot clean it. Spot cleaning your napa leather garment is a safe and effective way to remove stains while preserving its softness in the process.

Strength and Durability

Another difference between napa leather and standard leather is that the former is typically stronger and more durable than the latter. Napa leather is recognized for its strength and durability. These qualities, in fact, are part of the reason why napa leather is considered a premium and high-quality type of leather.

No other type of leather offers the same level of strength and durability as napa leather. There are many other types of strong leather. All types of real leather are at least somewhat strong and durable. In terms of strength and durability, however, napa leather comes out on top.

Unsplit Sheepskin

Napa leather is specifically made of unsplit sheepskin. Unsplit means that the fibrous layer of the hide is left attached to top layer. The top layer, of course, is the grain. Standard leather may consist of other types of animal hide that’s either split or unsplit. With split standard leather, the fibrous layer is removed from the grain layer.

Split leather is a cheaper, lower-quality type of leather. It’s thinner and, therefore, weaker than unsplit leather. Nonetheless, napa leather is made of unsplit sheepskin, which is one of the many ways that it differs from standard leather.


You’ll typically get more use out of a napa leather garment than a standard leather garment. Napa leather is long-lasting, so garments made of this textile usually offer countless years of use. They don’t succumb to damage easily, nor do they degrade prematurely. Rather, napa leather garments are long-lasting while offering many years or even decades of use.

Because it lasts longer than standard leather, napa leather is a smart financial investment. If you buy a garment made of standard leather, you may have to replace it just a few years down the road. Maybe the garment develops a tear, or perhaps it deforms to a smaller or different shape. Garments made of napa leather typically don’t suffer from these problems.

In Conclusion

Napa leather and standard leather are both textiles consisting of tanned and processed animal hide, such as sheepskin. They differ, though, in regards to their characteristics. Napa leather is a specific type of premium leather that was derived from Napa, California where it was invented by Emanuel Manassee in the 19th century. It’s now made by other companies and other regions. Nonetheless, napa leather was originally created in Napa, California by Manassee.

When compared to standard leather, napa leather has a finer grain and a softer texture. It’s also stronger, more durable and longer-lasting than standard leather. These are just a few of the ways that napa leather differs from standard leather. To see why napa leather has become so popular, you should consider ordering a napa leather jacket.