You’ve probably heard that there are many kinds of leather, some of which are very expensive, like alligator and crocodile. But peccary leather is becoming harder to find and more expensive because of it.
How much does peccary leather cost? Well, a normal pair of leather dress gloves costs between $30 and $60, while a pair of peccary leather gloves costs between $300 and $400, and the prices go up from there. Ridhiman Das talks about how it’s made and why it costs so much.
What’s Peccary Leather?
Where does peccary leather come from, and what is it? Well, peccary leather comes from the peccary animal, which looks like a pig and has hooves. A fully grown peccary is between 35 and 52 inches long.
Even though it looks like a pig, it is not related to pigs. Peccaries are in the Tayassuidae family, while pigs are in the Suidae family. So, peccaries and pigs are very similar because they are related.
Peccaries aren’t usually raised in the same place where cattle are, like they are for the meat packing industry. Peccaries can only be found in the wild, with the exception of a few rare hatcheries.
There are very strict rules about how and where peccaries can be hunted to keep them from being overharvested and killed. CITES made these rules to make sure that there will always be a steady supply of hides that won’t hurt the environment. In fact, you can only do this legally in one place in the world, and that’s Peru.
Because the animals come from a sustainable hatchery or have to be hunted in a skilled, controlled way, and because this can only be done in a very small part of the world, the skin is naturally hard to come by. This makes the price go up even before the skin is made.
How is leather from a Peccary made?
Even though we’re about to talk about how leather is made, we’ll skip over all the gory details for now.
The peccary skins are collected after a hunt, and they look very different from how they will look when they are finished. They still have hair on them. It looks more like a rug made from pigskin than a pair of gloves.
Getting weighed and having hair cut
The next step is to weigh all of the skins. This is important so that they all get tanned the same way. If too many skins go through at the same time, it will cause the yield to be uneven. So, this means that at a certain time, only a small number of skins can go through and be tanned. Again, the fact that this is made in very small batches drives up the price and makes it more unique.
Once the skins have been properly weighed, they are put in a vat of chemicals to remove the hair. Without this step, every single hair would have to be removed by hand. The hair on a peccary is very tough, and if you tried to cut it off by hand with a blade, you would hurt a lot of the skin. So, you need the right amount of a chemical soak to get rid of things and keep your skin safe.
After the hair is taken off, the leather is tanned in drums. And if you read our other cordovan leather guide, you know that tanning is a long and hard process. Every kind of leather is different and needs a different tanning process to turn out the way it should.
For example, the blue-grey colour of the leather here comes from chromium salts that were used to dye the skins. People often argue about whether chrome-tanned leather or vegetable-tanned leather is better. We have a guide to help you decide.
Shaving to Make Things Even
After the skins are tanned, they are shaved until they are all the same thickness. Since this is a natural material, there will be parts that aren’t straight or even. When the skins are shaved down to the same depth, they can be used to make high-quality products.
If this step didn’t happen, the skins would be too thick in some places for a needle and thread to go through. This could make a finished garment useless. This would waste a skin and could cause the peccary tannery to lose business. So, peccary must cost more because of this exact attention to detail. Even though most of the hair will have been removed by the chemical solution bath and tanning process, a few will still be left. These will be removed by hand at this stage.
Keep in mind that getting rid of these hairs by hand takes a lot of time. This process also takes a lot of skill, because any mistake would hurt the skin.
When the skins are clean and free of hair, they are put out in the sun to dry. As with any other kind of leather, this needs to be done away from direct heat and sunlight so that the skins don’t get warped or dry out too quickly and become brittle. Being close to the equator probably makes this step harder than it sounds.
When the skins are dry, they are given a score between one and four. This is actually a lot like how alligator skin, crocodile skin, and silk are graded. So, in practise, grade one is the best quality with the fewest flaws, and grade four is the worst quality that can still be used to make things.
The grades are given by drawing a line vertically and then horizontally across the skin, dividing it into four quadrants. The skin will then get a grade based on how many flaws there are in each quadrant.
For a hide to be grade-one quality, none of the four quadrants can have any flaws. This is something that doesn’t happen very often, since it comes from a wild animal and there aren’t usually any flaws. Leather manufacturers really want a grade one peccary skin because they can make more things with it.
This picture of a grade one skin shows how many pairs of gloves can be made from it, while this picture of a grade four skin shows how few gloves can be made. So, a company that makes leather has to pay a lot for really good skins or buy a lot of lower quality skins. The whole process of making it is very impressive, which is why it costs so much.
Properties of Peccary Leather
Now, let’s talk more about what makes peccary leather good. Since peccary leather is so expensive, it’s important to really know what you’re looking at so you can make a smart decision about whether or not to buy it.
Imitation peccary is regular calfskin that has been made to look like peccary. It’s important to note that a reputable store should make it very clear what imitation peccary is, but if you’re looking for secondhand or vintage gloves, you should already know what you’re looking for.
1. Scars and other marks
The first thing you should know about pecker leather is that it might have small flaws. Since this comes from an animal with very sharp teeth and tusks, you can expect these skins to have natural flaws, whether they are from a fight with another peccary or a scar from a predator. And while flaws in other kinds of leather might cause them to be thrown away, the true connoisseur of peccary leather really appreciates these unique charms and flaws.
II. Pores with three points
The pores in real peccary leather have a distinct three-pronged shape, which is another way to tell if the leather is real. After all, those hard-to-remove hairs have been shaved off, leaving the hide with a pattern of three pores close together. This is the same feature that is often found on cheaper gloves and the fake peccary we talked about earlier. Because the pattern of real peccary pores can be copied onto a large metal stamp and then pressed onto a lower grade of leather, the look of peccary can be made for a lot less money.
There’s nothing wrong with fake peccary as long as it’s sold as such, but it’s not the same as real peccary. Also, if you wear fake goods, people might think you are a fake too.
III. A matte finish
The matte finish is another way to tell if something is peccary. Peccary leather isn’t shiny like other types of leather. In fact, it’s very flat and looks almost like chalk. In fact, this is the only thing that fake peccary can’t do, since heat and pressure from metal stamps can make a different kind of leather look very shiny.
IV. Feels soft and bendy
Peccary leather has a matte finish and feels very soft and supple. This is because peccary leather is naturally very elastic and stretchy. This means that you can pull a piece of peccary leather and see it loosen back up, just like if you pinched the skin on your arm. When peccary leather is in its natural state, this elasticity can make it feel soft and spongy against the skin, which can make it very comfortable to wear.
V. Remarkably long-lasting
You’d also be amazed at how long-lasting peccary leather is. For a hide that is as soft and flexible as peccary, it usually needs to be cut or poked before it tears. This means that it won’t wear down in spots like other leathers would.
This does mean that peccary is usually sewn by hand, especially when gloves are being made. Simply put, only a human hand and work can tell how much pressure needs to be put on the stitches at different points where a pair of gloves bends. It can take years to learn the skills needed to make a pair of peccary gloves, and it can take a skilled craftsperson up to six hours to make one pair.
VI. Changes how it looks over time
Peccary leather is naturally durable, so you’ll be able to wear your gloves for a long time. Over time, they’ll get a really nice, unique patina.
This shouldn’t be a problem for you if you like how things change as they get older. But peccary leather might not be for you if you want something that always looks bright and shiny.
How to Use Peccary
Let’s look at what peccary is best used for to wrap up. Given what we’ve learned about peccary today, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that peccary leather isn’t good for big things like jackets or furniture because the skins aren’t very big. Never say never, but the finished products would have to be pieced together from different peccary skins, which wouldn’t look very elegant.
The most common way to use peccary is in leather gloves. Wallets, watches, straps, key rings, business card cases, and other similar things can be made from peccary hides because they can be cut into single pieces instead of being pieced together. Because of this, it’s hard to make belts out of peccary leather because you usually have to cut two or more pieces to make a long belt.
You can find shoes made from peccary skin, but they are usually made from thicker, harder hides, which takes away some of the peccary’s unique qualities. Peccary is more likely to be used with other kinds of leather, like on two-tone shoes or Balmoral boots.
As we come to the end of our journey to learn more about peccary leather, it’s easy to see why it’s so expensive. Making peccary leather is done on a very small scale, and there are a lot of rules about it. During the whole process of making a hide, a lot of care must be taken to get the best grade of hide possible. Even then, it’s likely that peccary leather goods will need more than one hide.
When the leather gets to the person who makes leather goods, it takes a lot of skill and work to make the final product. The skills needed to make these products are an investment in skilled craftsmanship, and it takes longer and more time to make them than a piece of fast fashion.