Before we get into the crux, it’s worth noting that patina is not a term exclusively associated with leather. Patina refers to any change in a material’s surface due to natural ageing and exposure to the elements. What do brass, copper, raw wood and even certain types of stones have in common? You guessed it — each is susceptible to developing patina.
One iconic example of patina-in-practice is the Statue of Liberty. In 1886, when ‘Lady Liberty’ was first revealed to the American public, she had a reddish-brown tinge that is typical of copper. Over the ensuing 20 years, the thin copper sheets that make up her external layer reacted with air and water in a chemical process called oxidation, creating the distinctively green coating we see today. Far from damaging the statue, the patina actually protects the copper underneath.
Forming a patina is a standard part of the natural ageing process for premium leather. It involves a gradual change in the leather’s physical properties. Aged leather goods have greater depth when it comes to colour and texture; they often possess a subtle sheen and become increasingly supple.
Yet part of what makes leather patination so interesting is that it is also unpredictable and distinct — very much the product of its particular environment.