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Semi-aniline leather

Semi-aniline leather is leather, which is only slightly pigmented (colour layer). The natural leather grain and the hair pores are not allowed to be concealed by the pigmentation. These can e only be slightly protected and must remain visible.


However, it should be noted that, depending on the working steps in the tannery, the natural grain pattern and hair pores remain more or less clearly visible. For example, vacuum drying affects the visibility of the hair pores as compared to drying by hanging. Nevertheless, it is still a semi-aniline. The natural grain must, however, be completely preserved and should not be buffed. Semi-aniline leather is soft and warm and feels very natural due to the less intense coating and the absence of compression of the leather fibres by a strong embossing. However, embossing is not completely forbidden when producing semi-aniline leather.

In contrast to aniline leather, which is completely porous and very sensitive, semi-anilines have better protection. The protection is by no means as strong as for pigmented smooth leather, where the pigment layer acts as a barrier and the hair pores are no longer recognisable. Such leathers are mostly firmer and feel colder than semi-aniline leathers.

Since January 2016, there is another type of leather defined and standardised in Europe called aniline leather, refined. The characteristic of this leather means it is classed between aniline leather and semi-aniline leather. . It has even less pigmentation than semi-aniline. The pore pattern is even more visible and the leather is even more natural than semi-aniline leather. However, this also means it is more sensitive than aniline leather and less sensitive than semi-aniline leather.


Semi-aniline leather has a much thinner finish compared to pigmented smooth leather.


The tanner's aim is to make a natural, soft and warm leather with a slight protection. Aniline leather is the most natural and soft due to its porous nature. An ideal leather would therefore be porous, but insensitive like pigmented smooth leather. But this is not possible. Even the best waterproofing does not provide sufficient long-term protection. The tanner controls the sensitivity by applying a colour coat, to reduce fading and wear and stain sensitivity.


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Semi-aniline leather is less sensitive than aniline leather, but fades faster and is more sensitive to fat stains caused by skin and hair contact and abrasion than pigmented smooth leather.

Semi-aniline leather is commonly used for making furniture, jackets and bags. For households without children and pets, furniture with semi-aniline leather is a suitable choice. The typical changes occur after several years and can be delayed or repaired with regular care or with the assistance of a specialist company. As vehicle leathers are meant to be durable and last for much longer, they are pigmented heavily.

Since semi-aniline leather is superior in quality to pigmented leather, most pigmented leather is often referred to or sold as "semi-aniline leather". Such deceptive practices lead the customer to believe what they are purchasing is of better quality. If a leather is monochrome and feels cold or coated, the term "semi-aniline leather" may not be the correct description.

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Typical semi-aniline leather surface. - Furniture with semi-aniline leather.


Semi-aniline leather is more sensitive than pigmented leather and is therefore rarely found in vehicles, where the leather is usually required to be easy to maintain.

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Wiesmann roadster and Ferrari FF with semi-aniline interior.


The VW-Touareg with individual equipment is a mix of pigmented leather and semi-aniline leather.



After 70 thousand kilometres on the speedometer, still very nice condition, because well maintained.




Semi-aniline leather is sensitive: The sensitivity becomes visible when not cleaned and cared for properly.



Comparison of leather quality and sensitivity/ease of maintenance.

aniline leather - semi-aniline - pigmented leather - corrected grain - laminated leather


Criteria of differentiation



Pure aniline leather: Pores are completely visible and there is no finish on the leather.



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Semi-aniline leather: Pores are clearly visible, but a thin layer of paint is on the leather surface.




Pores are hardly distinguishable. A stronger colour layer is on the leather surface. Only a leather consultant or expert can investigate whether this leather may still be referred to as semi-aniline leather.




Pigmented smooth leather: Pores are no longer distinguishable. The leather has a thick layer of paint.


False declarations of semi-aniline leather without visible hair pores

Since semi-aniline leather is considered to be a high-quality pigmented leather, it is not always declared correctly. The naturalness and softness are characteristic for semi-aniline leather. This includes the recognisability of the natural grain structure and the hair pores. Using a digital camera with macro function helps in most cases to recognise whether hair pores are visible or not.


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Leather offered as semi-aniline leather, but it`s not.


False declarations of semi-aniline leather with embossed hair pores

Since pores can also be embossed, the recognisability of the pores alone is not decisive. Not every pigmented leather showing visible hair pores is, therefore, automatically a semi-aniline leather. Also, the naturalness and softness of the leather is an indication. If in doubt, an expert must be consulted. Leather that feels cold and plastic-like should be checked thoroughly as this is not a normal characteristic of semi-aniline leather.



Buffed, pigmented and embossed. This is not a semi-aniline leather. The hair pores are embossed.




Buffed, pigmented and embossed. The hair pores are embossed very clumsily. Definitely not a semi-aniline leather.




Laminated split leather embossed with hair pores with textile lamination. Definitely not a semi-aniline leather.


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Also not semi-aniline leather: Plastic coated split leather. The hair pores belong to the plastic film.




Also not semi-aniline leather: A coating film with hair pore design on unstable bonded leather.


Video about kinds of leather

Video about different kinds of smooth leather.

Additional information