Hand Coloured Leather

A Fleming & Howland client will know that ‘Hand‐Coloured’ leather is not machine made.

A tannery is a place that transforms raw animal skins into a fully processed, finished article. Most leathers attain their colour from chemical dyes, soaked and finished in large drums and ultimately distributed worldwide. At this industrial scale, ancient tanning techniques are pretty much forgotten and modern technology has fully taken over. At this point you should know that although this processed leather is a consistent and expensive material perfect for your sofa, it is not genuine hand‐coloured leather.

man doing a hand coloured leather


Colouring Chesterfield Sofas and Chairs

Fleming & Howland, however, prefer to do things the traditional way, using dyes from natural vegetable based resources. The result is a leather that isn’t just incredibly supple, but transmits a distinctive, warm natural fragrance. Best of all, the dyes result in a natural aging process that improves the look of the leather over time and use.

man doing a hand coloured leather

Attempts have been made by the tanneries to imitate this leather using terms such as ‘handwashed’ and ‘distressed’. It is marketed to imply it is produced with special attention. In reality, though, it is produced in the same large drums and modern techniques as any other tannery leather.

 hand coloured leather painting

The Hand‐Coloured technique by Fleming & Howland is another story. Each hide is delicately massaged using specially formulated dyes that have evolved over generations. Just as a painter would address a canvas, the antiquer would apply the dyes by hand directly onto the leather. Areas
of the hide will absorb the colours in various intensities, dictated by the skin texture, and approximately 6 layers are required to reach the correct intensity.

cleaning of hand coloured leather

The technique is highly skilled, and highly unpredictable, but the resultant patina is one of the most unique and radiant colours with an almost three‐dimensional finish. Skills, dedication, passion and art combined into one. It is ultimately what makes Fleming & Howland different to the rest.

If you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact your local Fleming & Howland dealer or ask for a sample of Hand‐Coloured leather.

Technical Specification

A soft full grain, full aniline leather that is used specifically for hand dyeing. Colour dyes are mixed and gently massaged into the leather which is then allowed to dry. This process is repeated at least six times to ensure a beautifully-toned patina. As the dyes are absorbed in varying intensities on different areas of the skin, the original hallmarks of the hide ensure that every piece is completely unique and distinctive.

Full-aniline leather, which is the hide’s most organic state, will always reveal heavy scarring and blemishes. In areas of frequent use, such as the seat and arm, the natural oils will move around to cause a lightening in colour. This is the natural progression of hand-coloured leather and in no way should be considered a flaw.

av. 4.5 sqm. Thicknes ca. 1.2mm
Recommended Use: suitable for domestic, general contract and marine applications.


Manufactured under the ISO9001:2008 quality system and to comply with British / European standards for upholstery leather and the furnishings fire safety regulations 1988.

Colour Matching: due to the natural process of colour and manufacturing techniques we cannot guarantee to match samples exactly.