Invented in California, prized the world over, Napa leather is the height of luxury and sophistication.
In 1875, Emanuel Manasse, a German worker at the Sawyer Tanning company in Napa, California, discovered a way of tanning the soft hides of calves that increased their durability while retaining their softness. He named it after the city in which the discovery was made and now the word “Napa” has come to describe all high-quality leather made from the hide of younger animals.
Its suppleness makes it perfect for clothes and bags and its luxury makes it highly prized for the upholstery of car interiors.
Napa is made from full grain leather, which means that the skin surface has been left natural apart from the removal of hair. This retains the texture and character of the original hide.
Napa leather can be very susceptible to bleaching by sunlight and it is quite difficult to keep clean because the pores are not sealed, although some types of Napa are lightly coloured and a little more resilient.
So, it needs to be looked after, conditioned regularly, cleaned carefully and protected. Wax-based cleaners and polishes should be avoided – lanolin-based ones are Napa’s friends.
As there is no official definition of Napa, the word is often used to market inferior products, but it is still used to describe some of the finest leather available. Fortunately, when you see, feel and smell the good stuff, you’ll know immediately!