Educational Programs

Term Definition
Aniline Leather

Leather with a minimal surface finish and that has the original natural grain surface clearly visible. These leathers usually come from the best quality hides and skins and are used for luxury items. Aniline leather has a beautiful surface feel but is less well protected from soiling compared to semi-aniline or pigmented leathers.

Bally Flex Test performed to mimic a flexing motion on leather specimens, one wet and one dry.
Bio-based Materials that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products (biomass).
Biodegradable Refers to a product breaking down into natural elements, carbon dioxide and water vapor by organisms like bacteria and fungi.
Biodegradable Leather Leather is made to last and wear well, but has the ability to degrade biologically in 10 to 50 years.
Biodegradable Materials Materials in which the degradation results from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae.
Bonded Leather A material that has been made from leather dust, clippings and leather shavings bonded together with a base substance - usually synthetic. Sometimes also known as leather board.
Break The way the surface of the leather can wrinkle or "break" down. Also called looseness.
Brush Off Leather with contrasting base and surface coats. The surface is removed with a burnishing wheel to reveal the lighter, contrasting base color underneath.
Buffed Leather A leather that has had the top surface buffed to produce a soft velvet-like touch. Depending on the depth of the buffing there will often be a clearly visible nap. This term is also sometimes used for nubuck leather.
By-product A secondary or incidental product of a manufacturing process (e.g., scrap or emissions).
Carbon Footprint The total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
Chrome III

A naturally occurring trivalent element used in tanning leather that is non-toxic.

Chain Of Custody The chain of custody (CoC) is an unbroken and documented chain of ownership of materials and products all the way from the supplier to the end user.
Cellulosic Fibers Fibers structured from cellulosic, which is a starch-like carbohydrate. Cellulosic fibers are created in a man-made process by dissolving natural materials such as cellulose or wood pulp, which are then regenerated by extrusion and precipitation.
Chrome Leather Leather that has been tanned using chrome - most of the world’s leather is tanned this way as it is a proven process that produces a stable end-product that makes up well into a wide range of items from footwear to furniture, bags, gloves and apparel.
Chrome VI A banned hexavalent version of Chromium created by an industrial process.
Chrome-free Leather Leather tanned using alternative methods to chrome - usually aldehydes.
Circular Economy An economy that uses a systems-focused approach and involves industrial processes and economic activities that are restorative or regenerative by design, enable resources used in such processes and activities to maintain their highest value for as long as possible, and aim for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, and systems (including business models).
Closed-loop Production Production processes that reuse material waste created during the production process for additional products as well as using the recycled ingredients for reuse in the production process and/or to create new items.
Color Fastness

A test method to measure the fixing of coloring dyes and pigments from the retanning and finishing processes.

Color Standards Swatch of leather approved and signed off by customer/brand. Color standards are distributed between: brand, shoe factory and tannery.
Color Windows

Window used for confirming color tolerance, for example, lighter than standard, darker, more red and more yellow. If matched color is within the agreed upon range on the color window it is acceptable for shipment.

Compostable Materials Materials that are capable of undergoing biological decomposition in a compost site as part of an available program, such that the material is not visually distinguishable and breaks down into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass, at a rate consistent with known compostable materials.
Composting An aerobic process designed to produce compost. Compost is an organic soil conditioner obtained by biodegradation of a mixture consisting principally of vegetable residues, occasionally with other organic material, and having a limited mineral content.
Corrected Grain Leather from which the grain layer is partially removed by deep buffing and a surface recreated with various finishing steps.
Cradle To Cradle Certified®

A globally recognized and accepted measure of safer and more sustainable products made for the circular economy.


Click here to check the source

Creation Of Sustainable Materials, COSM™

COSM™ (Creation of Sustainable Materials) is a division in ISA TanTec Group, which specializes in the development and production of additional sustainable products alongside its sustainable leather production. All COSM™ products are made by following the LITE manufacturing processes minimizing carbon footprint, water and chemical consumption.


Click here to check the source

Crocking A test method to determine the amount of coloring dyes and pigments that rub off of the surface of the leather.
Crust Leather Part-processed leather that has been retanned and dyed but not been through its final finish.
Cutting Area Area of the hide where patterns are cut from.
Drum Dyed The application of dye stuffs into the leather by immersion in a drum allowing the dye to penetrate into the fibers.
Drying Mechanical operation for removing moisture from the leather down to a certain moisture percentage after retanning.
Embossed Leather Applying a pattern (with a plate or roller) to the surface of the leather with pressure, heat and dwell time allowing for unique designs. Also called plating or printing.
Fat Liquor Chemicals used in retanning process adding oils and fats back into the hide.
Fat Wrinkle / Growth Marks Wrinkles in the grain of the hide which are natural characteristics of the neck and belly areas.
Finish Adhesion Test performed to insure the finish applied to the leather is fixed to meet the specified requirement.
Finished Leather Leather that has its final characteristics added, being ready for the manufacturing process of end products (e.g. shoes, bags and furnitures).
Finishing Surface applications by spraying, roller coating or embossing. Adding characteristics to the leather for color, oils & waxes, tipping, antiquing, pigments, glazing or masking imperfections.
Fleshout / Reverse Turning the hide over and using the flesh side of a full grain leather as the surface area.
Forest Stewardship Council®, FSC, Certification

A FSC certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forest that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

Click here to check the source

Formula Instructions for the retanning and finishing department on the amount of each chemicals, dyes and fat liquors used in both processes.
Full Grain Leather Leather made from the top layer of the hide or skin.
Genuine Leather

A term is used to emphasize that a product is made from natural, real leather, not a synthetic alternative.


Assigning a grade or category to each hide based on the amount of surface defects which determine a cutting ecoefficiency.

Greener Pastures™

As part of ISA TanTec's LITE Sourcing, Greener Pastures™ is specifically developed for the sourcing of cattle hides following a strict set of protocols and requirements surrounding animal welfare and traceability.


 Click here to check the source

Hand A term used to describe the feel of the leather, i.e. softness or fullness of the skin.
Hang Dry Hanging the hides for air drying.
Hide The skins from bigger animals - mainly cattle or buffalo, they are a by-product of the food production.
Higg Index

A suite of tools that assess the social and environmental performance of the value chain and is widely used by global companies in a variety of industries.


Click here to check the source


It is composed of two individual words: Hypha, from the modern Latin hyphae, is a structural element of fungi (Mushrooms) and Lite by ISA TanTec, known in the leather industry for its LITE system, minimizing carbon footprint, water, and chemical consumption.


 Click here to check the source

Lastometer Ball burst test performed to confirm the surface grain will not crack during shoe manufacturing processes.
Leather The official and recognised definition of leather: hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact, tanned to be imputrescible, where the hair or wool may or may not have been removed.
Leather Board It is also known as bonded leather. It is often used in shoes (in-between soles) or to give body to a bag.
Leather Working Group, LWG

A not-for-profit organization responsible for the world's leading environmental certification for the leather manufacturing industry.


Click here to check the source

Life Cycle Assessment, LCA A compilation and evaluation of the input, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its entire life cycle – from cradle to grave. LCA is then broken down into 9 impact categories: climate change, abiotic depletion, land use, water consumption, eutrophication, acidification, toxicity, photochemical ozone formation and ozone depletion.
Light Fastness Test performed to measure amount of leather color change in direct UV light.
Liming The process to remove the hair from the hide and prepare it for the tanning process.
Low Impact To the Environment, LITE

Low Impact To the Environment (LITE) concept started with a vision of ISA and the requirements from brands to offer environmentally friendly materials. LITE was born to provide ISA's customers with the knowledge of carbon footprint and water usage for each of the leathers ISA created; giving customers the ability to choose the product that is the most environmentally-friendly, and with the lowest footprint. The LITE system is fully integrated into ISA's manufacturing process, which is specially designed to reduce and control water and energy usage, as well as to reduce the amount of chemicals ISA uses in the process. The effort ISA makes is consistently minimizing their impact to the environment.


Click here to check the source

Maeser Flexes Test performed for waterproof leather to ensure water will not pass through the surface of the leather after a set number of flexes.
Man-made Cellulosic Fibers Man-made cellulosic fibers (MMCF) or regenerated cellulosic fibers is the second biggest cellulosic fiber group after cotton and are made from wood pulp and natural plant materials.
Metal Free Leather tanned without chromium or any other metals. Other chemical substitutions are used.

The mechanical process to "tumble" the leather creating suppleness in the hide.

Moisture Vapor Transfer Rat, MVTR

Measurement of amount of air to pass through the leather.

Mycelium The vegetative body for fungi that produce mushroom. Comparing Mycelium to a plant, mycelium can be classified as the root system of the fungi whereas the mushroom will be the flower.
Natural Materials They are all products or physical matter from plants, animals or soil. The minerals and metals which can be extracted from them (without any modification) are also placed in this category.
Natural Polymers They are defined as materials that widely occur in nature and/or which can be extracted from plants and animals. Some examples of natural polymers are cellulose, silk, natural rubber as well as other materials.
Nubuck It is also known as buffed leather. It is a leather that has had the top surface buffed to produce a soft velvet-like touch. Depending on the depth of the buffing there will often be a clearly visible nap.
Oil/Fat Content

Test performed to determine the percentage of oil/waxes in the leather.


Descriptive word to describe the surface of leather after milling/tumbling. A pronounced pebbled grain.

Perfluorocarbons, PFC They are used in many waterproof and water repellent finishes and have been deemed harmful to the environment.
Petrochemical They are a set of chemicals, hydrocarbons, that are separated and extracted from petroleum (crude oil) and natural gas and are the building blocks from multiple industries.
Pigmented Leather Leather that is finished with a solid pigment coating for consistency of color and texture.
Pin Holes

Visible hair follicle spots on the surface of the hide. Easier to see from an animal with black hair.

Product Carbon Footprint The product carbon footprint sums up the total greenhouse gas emissions generated by a product over the different stages of its life cycle following ISO/TS 14067:2013.
Product Life Cycle The cycle through which every product goes from introduction to the market until it is removed from the market.
Pull-Up Leather Oil or wax is added to the top surface, when the leather is ‘pulled’ these move creating a unique effect.
Raw Hide A hide which has only been treated to preserve it prior to tanning.
Recycled Materials Materials that are created by reusing materials benefited as raw material and transformed into a new product. The concept of recycled material is directed only to materials that can return to the original state and be transformed again into a product equal in all its features.
Regenerative A set of processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own systems. Cellulosic fibers are regenerated fibers as they are created by dissolving the cellulose out of a plant fiber and making it into a new cellulosic fiber.
Regenerative Aguculture

The term was coined by organic farming researchers at the Rodale Institute in the 1980s, consists of holistic farming practices that aim to improve soil health and reverse climate change by expanding biodiversity, improving the water cycle, increasing organic matter in soil structure, and transferring carbon from the atmosphere to the soil. Proponents of regenerative agriculture avoid using chemical pesticides and advocate for methods like crop rotation, livestock rotation, composting, no-till farming, agroecology, and agroforestry. Regenerative agriculture increases the amount of arable topsoil, which results in a healthier, better food system.

Regenerative Hide It is sourced from farms and ranches that use regenerative agricultural practices which simulate the natural movement of animal herds through planned grazing management systems that support the sustainability and resilience of grazing ecosystems.
Renewable Materials They are derived from trees, plants, animals or ecosystems that can regenerate. A renewable material may be produced repeatedly.
Restricted Substances List, RSL It helps companies meeting regulatory requirements. A RSL is a list of chemicals restricted in consumer products, usually due to a governmental regulation or law. The purpose of a RSL is to reduce the use of hazardous substances in consumer goods and supply chains.
Re-tanning A secondary tannage operation of the wet blue following the primary tanning. Coloring dyes, waterproofing chemicals and others are added at this time to give the leather its character.
Roller Coater Machine used to directly apply oils, waxes and other finishes to the surface of the leather through a roller.
Samming A process to remove water after wet blue tanning and retanning.
Scratches/Scars Natural defects on the animal hide.
Semi-Aniline Leather Leather that has a light finish applied, usually with pigments. The natural grain surface can still be seen but it less susceptible to soiling and easier to care for than aniline leather.
Setting Out Usually done in the same process as samming, lays or sets out the hide for further processing.

It is a testing and accreditation company with established parameters used in the Shoe Industry.

Shoe and Allied Trade Research Association, SATRA

It is a testing and accreditation company with established parameters used in the Shoe Industry.


Click here to check the source

Side Hide which is cut in half, along the backbone, forming two "sides" of leather. Smaller area is easier to work with in the shoe manufacturing process.
Snuffed Grain Leather Similar to buffed or nubuck leather, where the grain is very lightly buffed.
Sole Leather A thick firm leather used in footwear, which is produced by vegetable tanning.
Sorting Examining the surface of the leather for defects and categorizing into grades.
Split Leather The underneath section of the leather after it has been split - the top layer is what creates full grain leather, the split is the second layer and is mostly used to make suede
Spray Machine It is used to spray dyes and finish systems onto the surface of the leather.
Staking Wet staking is a mechanical operation used to even out the fibers in the hide. Dry staking is a mechanical operation for loosening the fibers in the hide to create a softer temper.
Suede The flesh side of the final leather or also used to refer to split leather. The fibers tend to be longer giving it a ‘hairy’ appearance.

In 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”


Click here to check the source

Sustainable Apparel Coalition, SAC

A global alliance of retailers, brands, suppliers, advocacy groups, labor unions and academics, aims to create an apparel, footwear and home textiles industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on people and communities.


Click here to check the source

Synthetic It describes a substance and/or material which is made by a chemical synthesis/process.
Tanning Process whereby putrescible (perishable) raw hides and skins are converted to leather.
Temper Term used to describe and measure the softness of the hide.
Tensile & Tear Strength Test performed to confirm the leather will not tear during normal shoe making stitching and lasting processes.
Thickness/Weight/Substance The thickness of the leather is measured in millimeters, the weight in ounces per square feet.
Toggle Dry Drying method used in softer milled/tumbled leathers to create a pebble effect and increase yield.
Traveler Identifying worksheet attached to each order of leather detailing each step of the manufacturing process.
Tumble The mechanical process to "tumble" the leather creating suppleness in the hide. Another term for Milling.
Vacuum Dry Drying method used for smoother leathers and waterproof tannages.
Vegan/Veganism Following a lifestyle that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitations and cruelties for any kind of consumer goods such as food, fashions, or any other purposes.
Vegan Leather Misleading marketing term used to refer to synthetic material made to look like leather.
Vegetable Tanned Leather The conversion of the rawhide into leather using vegetable tannings rather than chromium salts.

A hide or skin, before being dyed, has once been tanned with chrome and is still wet. It is characterized by its light blue color.


A hide or skin, before being dyed, has once been tanned with Aldehydes and is still wet. It is characterized by its white color.

White Spots Small natural scars from insect bites on the surface of the hide.
Wicking Test performed on leathers normally waterproof, to measure the amount of water uptake after a set time period.