Napa leather or just napa is the general name for soft smooth leather from hides of different animals (aniline leather, semi aniline leather). It is a full grain smooth leather.
Napa leather was originally only the name for glove and clothing leather, named after the Napa Valley, California, USA. This leather was known for its particular smooth and supple softness.
Smooth and soft napa elk leather gloves.
Today, napa leather is a collective term for almost all smooth leather of all animal species and uses. Many manufacturers use the term "napa" to describe a particularly good quality or a special softness.
Since the term is not clearly defined or standardised, one cannot rely on the fact that a leather with this designation is actually of good quality or that it is a soft leather.
For example, corrected grain is sold as napa. This is a contradiction in itself. Either a leather is full-grain or corrected by embossing. "Napa" stands for a particularly soft leather. But even bags with crocodile look made of embossed cow leather, belts or shoes are sold as embossed napa. But belts or crocodile leather are known for being solid leather and not for softness. But this does not necessarily mean a bad quality, but only a wrong description of the leather type.
Smooth and soft napa leather from lambskin and very soft eel leather.
The term "sanded napa" is also used in connection with napa leather. This refers to smooth leather, which has been sanded on the surface before colouring. Such leather is of poor quality and deceives the uninformed consumer.
In the English-speaking world, napa leather is written with one "p". There is also the term "nappa leather", which is used for soft imitation leather. Probably to let customers believe they have bought top quality napa leather. It is not known which labelling rules apply in the many English-speaking countries. In Portugal, the word for artificial leather is "Napa". In Germany "Nappa" means the same as "napa" in the English language. Therefore, it is always necessary to clarify the term in foreign countries.