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Chic Sparrow Common Terms


  • Full Grain: Leather with its surface completely intact, showing all natural characteristics of the hide. (ex. Austen, Maverick, Creme, Waypoint)
  • Top Grain: Genuine grain leather, as opposed to split leather which has been pigmented and embossed with a new grain. Top-grain leather may have the original grain removed and an imitation grain embossed into the surface. (ex. Callahan) 
  • Vegetable-Tanned: A traditional tanning method using vegetable liquors derived from tree bark. Leather that is vegetable tanned is sensitive to sunlight and will patina with use.
  • Chrome-Tanned: Leather that is tanned using chromium salts and/or sulphates to make the leather soft, supple and prevent discoloration. Chrome tanned leather is not sensitive to sunlight and will have little color change with use.
  • Italian Leather: Italian leather has a high quality reputation. Using a centuries old process of vegetable tanning, they tend to use full grain hides and processes that produce a softer, more pliable leather than other methods of vegetable tanning.
  • Hot Stuffed: Leather that has been conditioned with unrefined oils. Hot stuffed leathers typically exhibit pull-up and good water resistance.
  • Suede: Split leather that has been buffed and brushed to create a fuzzy surface feel.


  • Variation: General term for moles, bug bites, light scars, or other natural markings on leather prior to the tanning process. 
  • Fat Wrinkle: Marks or wrinkles that form in the leather grain due to fat deposits in the animal’s skin. They are valued because they are not visible in imitation or corrected grain leather.
  • Freckle/Mole: Dark spots on the leather caused by pigmented skin cells. Moles are often raised from the surface while freckles tend to be flat. Moles are also generally darker in color than freckles.
  • Striation: Natural marks from the cow hide that show color shading within a hide, usually running vertically or horizontally. These differ from hide to hide.


  • Pull-up: Temporary lightening of certain leathers when folded, stretched or pulled. This is caused by displacing oil and waxes. This usually happens in soft hand leathers.
  • Hand: A term used to describe the texture/feel of leather. (ex. softness or fullness)
  • Soft Hand: Leather that is extremely flexible and pliable. It does not tend to hold its shape. It is usually floppy and will hug your inserts.
  • Medium Hand: Leather is slightly stiff and less rigid. Tends to hold its shape. This leather is usually thick, not floppy, but not super stiff.
  • Firm Hand: Leather with a hard and rigid feel. Stiff leather is not easily bent or folded. It will retain its original shape and may need spine training to bend around the inserts.


  • Matte Finish: A flat or dull finish.
  • Gloss/Glazed: A method of applying even pressure across a leather surface to add smoothness or sheen. 
  • Gradient Distressing: Found on the Hemingway Collection, this is a hand crafted ink application to achieve a unique surface appearance that fades from a bright to shadowed look.


  • RPL: Removable pen loop
  • Pocket Designs: (scalloped, cascade, slip, secretarial, credit card)                                                
  • Pen Loops: (removable, curved, stitched, riveted)