Leathers have been at man's disposal for centuries. Exotic skins, however, have always been about luxury. Alligator and crocodile have been particularly desirable as ultimate status symbols since their introduction in fashion in the 19th century. Since then, some species became endangered, yet others have been successfully sustained and farmed worldwide for luxury production. That is why it is important to learn the difference between the species and also how to properly identify them in order to prevent confusion and misrepresentation in the volatile market of exotic skin handbags.
Alligator mississippiensis is a crocodilian species with rounded snouts, and a freshwater habitat in subtropical Southeastern U.S. MAIN FEATURE: no ISO (hair follicles) on the body. MYTH-BUSTER: not the only species with umbilical scars, because crocodiles also have them along with other animals.
Several crocodilian species with pointed snouts, and a mixed habitat in tropical climate in Africa, Asia and Australia. MAIN FEATURE: ISOs (hair follicles) on each scale of the body. MYTH-BUSTER: crocodiles also have umbilical scars, as alligators and other animals. VALUABLE: central belly cuts with symmetrical patterns.
Reptile leather from 6-ft-long turtles of Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean habitats. Introduced as "fashion leather" in 1967. MAIN FEATURE: irregular swirl pattern with angular scales. MYTH-BUSTER: often mislabeled and sold as crocodile, or alligator.
Crocodilian species from various habitats with lower grade skin that is less pliable and predisposed to cracking due to bony plates (ossification), which prevent it from even tanning and result in "mottled" effect. MYTH-BUSTER: often mislabeled by makers as crocodile.
Very supple skin due to its unique, criss-cross fiber pattern. Comes from the world's largest flightless bird indigenous to Africa. Second in value to crocodile. MAIN FEATURE: quill bumps. CUTS: full quill, smooth, and leg. VALUABLE: full quill. MYTH-BUSTER: Imitations (leather or vinyl printed with ostrich pattern) were produced as early as since the 1920s.
Strong reptile skin from various lizards of Asian or South American habitats. COMMON TYPES: ring and java (monitor), tegu, iguana. MAIN FEATURE: tightly grained patterns ("beaded" and scaled). MYTH-BUSTER: Tegu is often mislabeled and sold as alligator or crocodile.
Decorative skin of various snake species from different habitats worldwide, with a variety of patterns and textures. COMMON TYPES: karung, python, cobra. KARUNG: smooth, quality leather. PYTHON: scaly skin with bold, geometric patterns. COBRA: scaly skin tanned in solid colors.
KNOW YOUR SKINS