Leather Types: Saffiano Leather

Saffiano leather is one of the most commonly used leathers found in the fashion industry today.

It is a durable leather which is easy to clean. But what exactly is Saffiano leather, and where does it come from?


Its origin is Italy. Originally patented by Prada for ‘real’ Saffiano leather, and it is known as one of Prada’s masterpieces.

However in today’s market Saffiano can be found on many market leading designers handbags, and they are not all as good as they should be.

It is thought that Mario Prada designed this himself, however this has not been proven. The first Prada handbag made of Saffiano grain leather was in 1913, when Prada ventured into its first handbag range, designed by Mario’s first granddaughter. With its textured cross patterned grain it really was, and still is a wonderful leather, a leather that was designed so well it is still in such high demand now, 104 years later.

Saffiano leather has become one of the most fashionable and iconic leathers in today’s fashion industry, however Saffiano is now only a name, it is not the same quality it once was.

Genuine Saffiano leather would be made from calf skin. Now that Prada’s patent is no longer in place other tanneries make look-a-like Saffiano leathers using polyurethane based leather. Both leathers would be finished with a wax coating making it very durable and water resistant.

Saffiano Leather

Above: Saffiano Leather is durable and water resistant

How is Saffiano Leather made?

Once the leather has been aniline dyed all the way through, it has a pigmented (leather paint) coating applied to the surface of the leather. It is then left to cure.

Once the pigment has cured the leather is then put inside an embossing machine which is heated up to around 75 degrees Celsius. The leather is then pressed with an embossed grain to give the diagonally cross scratch effect. The leather is usually pressed for between 10-15 seconds.

Secondary colouring processes can then take place after the embossing has been done depending on the colour of leather being made.

Finally the leather is treated with a wax coating. This gives long lasting durability and helps to prevent the leather from cracking.

That doesn’t mean that Saffiao leather is indestructible. It can still be scuffed, and scratched. Sharp objects will cut into the leather, and the colour will fade throughout use.

Saffiano leather can come in many different colours. Some vibrant and some dark. Some single in colour and others two-tone. A two tone effect is created by applying one solid colour to the full hide; after the embossing has been carried out a secondary colour is applied to only the embossed areas (the peak of the grain). This can be very subtle and sometimes can only be seen up close.

Because of its shape and embossment the secondary colour on the embossed peaks tend to wear quicker as this is the first point of contact and will eventually lose its two-tone effect from day-to-day usage.

Prada Bags

How to clean & care for Saffiano Leather

Although this leather comes standard as water resistant, you still need to take care of it. The waxed coating will repel water but not forever.

  • Do not clean this leather with anything other than a genuine leather cleaner, or just a damp cloth. Avoid using baby wipes and harsh house hold cleaners as these can damage the finish on the leather which can then lead to the colour coming off.
  • When cleaning do not rub the leather too vigorously as this can also lead to colour transferring onto the cloth. Not only that but you can also damage the prominent grain, making areas look flatter and smoother.
  • You should re-protect your bag every three to four months depending on its usage. Regular cleaning and protecting will help keep your bag looking newer for longer.
  • When your bag is not in use you should keep it stuffed, this will help keep its shape and stop the leather from creasing. You should also keep your bag in its dustbag.
  • Handbag Clinics protection cream will help repel water and other types of staining. It also has a UV light barrier which will help slow down colour fade.
You can buy our cleaning & care kit, which is suitable for use on Saffiano Leather – Handbag Leather Care Kit
If you have an item of damaged Saffiano Leather, you can check it into our Clinic for Handbag Cleaning & Restoration
Leather Types: Saffiano Leather
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Leather Types: Saffiano Leather
Saffiano leather is one of the most commonly used leathers found in the fashion industry today.
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Handbag Clinic

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