Practical facts about ostrich leather

Practical secrets for the use of ostrich leather in the production of luxury handbags

It seems that everything is known about this leather, but in reality the information available is quite trivial,  often copied from one to the other, with few details on the characteristics of this material.

  • Do you know which part of the ostrich skin is used to create luxury brand products?
  • Why are the follicles not distributed on the the leather in a uniform way?
  • Can you use the parts of the skin without follicles for luxury products?
  • Is it true that it is waterproof, as is often said?
  • What are the benefits of ostrich leather and what makes it so expensive?

We offer you answers to the questions that come to mind when you think to buy an ostrich leather handbag and you do not have a clear idea of which characteristics you must consider.
* This article will not help you find out what ostriches are and why they put their heads in the sand. There is already much to read about this topic online.

gold ostrich leather

Let’s start from the main point: the conclusions.

Ostrich leather is among the most precious and expensive types of leather used in the luxury leather industry. Only crocodile and alligator leather cost more. It is easily recognizable thanks to the evenly distributed follicles on its surface. It is deservedly considered one of the most resistant, soft and flexible leathers, and for these reasons it is loved by many designers who use it with pleasure in their collections.

However, it appears that this leather as material for the creation of handbags is neither appreciated enough, nor demanded by many buyers. But what’s the problem? Maybe it costs a lot and appears modest, attracting only the true connoisseurs of luxury? Or it has an overly rigid design due to the monotonous structure that is not inspired even in various shades? Or perhaps the follicles that cover the entire surface seem too dull or, on the contrary, excessive?

In any case, we assure you that ostrich leather is one of the most sophisticated materials chosen for the realization of luxury items. Those who are looking for a symbol of elegance and prestige will do well to choose a leather product of this type.

Ostrich leather is considered a precious material, the cost of which is so high that not everyone can afford it. It is much more expensive than python and anaconda, and is ranked third in terms of cost after crocodile and alligator leather respectively. However, its rather modest appearance hides its true value. It may seem like a simple material, nothing special, but perhaps that is exactly what a true luxury connoisseur seeks: a sophisticated product of high quality, without necessarily the need for an extravagant and lively article.

Ostrich leather

Ostrich leather has particular features that have been described so many times in several articles. Much of this information corresponds to the truth. Just touch it to realize it is:

  • flexible and adaptable – especially when dealing with young ostrich leather;
  • durable – it consists of three layers of interwoven fibers, which make it resistant to stretching;
  • resistant to time – the more time passes, the more it reveals its beauty, without losing the first two characteristics.

Put simply, this leather is truly durable, soft and flexible. It adapts perfectly to any form of handbag, whether soft or rigid. It is also predisposed to dyeing and can assume many shades of color. In addition, ostrich skin is durable over time, thanks to its natural oils that keep it from drying out and that make it even softer, unlike other types of leather that do not have them.


Dimensions and sections of ostrich leather used to make handbags

The size of an ostrich skin normally varies between 1.3 and 1.8 square meters. To create an average sized handbag it takes up to 3 skins, depending on the size of the skin and the handbag, the pattern, the difficulty in processing and the client’s requirements regarding the presence of the follicles. In each case, we do our best to obtain the best result.

* If the handbag is made to order, the client can directly participate in the leather selection.

It is worth mentioning that in the production of handbags, only the central section of the skin is used, where the follicles are concentrated. As for smaller items, such as wallets or belts, the ostrich leg skin may also be used, whose unique print is reminiscent of fish scales. This leather, however, is not used in the realization of handbags.


Presence and number of follicles as an indicator of prestige

Ostrich leather has a particular texture, characterized by follicles, that is, the pores from where at one time the feathers came out. The more there are, the more prestigious the leather.

They are present mainly in the central part of the skin, occupying no more than 2/3 of the surface area. The sections without follicles are of no value, because from the external aspect no difference can be noticed between these parts and any other type of leather.

This does not mean, however, that an article with few follicles has a lower value or is not prestigious enough. It is absolutely acceptable and sometimes also judged positively. It happens often, especially nowadays, that fashion designers and producers of ostrich leather collections prefer to combine sections of leather both with and without follicles. Certainly the latter must not be visually predominant.

They do it for different reasons, including:

  • to render the article more “dynamic” – if it is entirely covered by follicles, at times, it may be more monotonous;
  • to maximize the use of the available leather, avoiding waste;
  • to demonstrate that it is authentic ostrich leather with all its imperfections, which helps distinguish it from counterfeit items that are usually impeccable.

The photo below presents ostrich leather in blue with classic processing.


As clearly seen in the photo, only one section has follicles and it is the back. This is the piece of leather that is used to create the articles. The remaining parts, where the follicles are not seen or not seen well, do not hold as much value since they resemble other types of leather, even though they have the same characteristics (softness, endurance, flexibility) of the central part with the follicles. Yet nobody appreciates much these smooth areas because the famous ostrich leather print is not emphasized and, being confusing, would not be able to justify the high cost of the item.

In any case, it is best to use these smooth parts without follicles rather than the skin section that connects the back and neck, which you can see in the photo below. Although it has follicles, it differs in quality and thickness from the other parts: it is thinner and its thickness is not uniform, making it less suitable for use in high quality products.

As you can see, a large part of the skin is thrown away if the article is made exclusively in the leather with follicles. Seeking to avoid this waste, many designers and artisans prefer to use at least some of the smooth skin.

* Usually it is at the client’s discretion: if the item is made to order, it is the buyer who decides which parts of the skin to use. If you only want leather with follicles, two or three skins will be needed. Therefore, more material will be lost and the final price will be higher.

We recommend combining various sections of ostrich leather, both with and without follicles. This does not in any way compromise the aesthetic aspect of the article and at the same time helps to be more sustainable, to avoid waste and emissions and to have a better price.


What might be considered a defect?

Is it normal that the surface is irregular and has scratches? What defects are acceptable for the realization of luxury products?

Ostrich leather can be classified into four types. How is the distinction made and what are the key factors?

First of all, the skin is divided into four sections, after which each of them is carefully examined. If there is no visible damage, it means that this part of the skin is of high-grade; if there are two or three signs, it is second grade and so on. As a rule, the second choice is not suitable for high quality articles. We select and buy only high-grade ostrich leather.


Very often in the market of ostrich leather many skins of second grade or even lower are offered. They have defects, such as holes, irregular dyeing and thickness, and so on.

These defects are unacceptable in making luxury items because they compromise not only the aesthetic aspect of the item but also the overall quality, even if this skin is used in the more hidden details of the handbag. Certainly a true professional is able to remove damaged areas and use the rest. This can be a good solution if you need to produce many articles using the same skin. However, this is not our case: from us, every piece of leather is selected by the customer and used for a single item, so we only choose top quality leather.

High-grade leather may also have imperfections such as scars, wrinkles or scratches sustained in life.

Obviously the articles without them have a more delicate and elegant look.

Nevertheless, in some cases small imperfections can become a distinctive element of the product, as well as proof that the skin used is true ostrich leather. It also depends on the preferences of the person cutting the leather, who is free to decide whether to hide, highlight or remove the imperfect parts of the skin.

If you have special preferences, please do not hesitate to contact us at the time of order. However, it would be better if the defects are absent.


Cut of the leather and exterior appearance of the follicles. How should they be?

The texture and size of the follicles on ostrich leather can be numerous, both flat and raised, both dark as well as the same color of the skin (as can be seen in the photo of the pink ostrich bag below). It is mostly a question of personal tastes and preferences.

Occasionally, some areas of the skin around the follicles have a “smudged” dye, meaning they have a darker and less uniform color. You know smudged ink on paper? The effect is more or less the same. Although manufacturers assure that it is a desired effect, we are trying to avoid such a thing as it is a change in the aesthetic value of the product. It should be noted that this is not a defect, but rather a matter of taste.

You can see an example of this leather in the picture below.

Ostrich leather


Is it true that ostrich skin is waterproof?

See if you can find the answer on the internet. Probably most of the results will tell you it’s waterproof. Many authors speak of it, pointing out that it is one of the main features. Until some time ago we were convinced. However, after years of experience in making leather goods, we have found that it is not true, or at least not entirely true. In fact, it depends on the processing of the leather.

Leather processed in the classic mode, with a glossy finish, is in fact very resistant to moisture, although it is less soft than ostrich leather without this finish. Usually for our collections we use very soft leather. I would like to emphasize: very soft and smooth Thanks to these features, the handbags made in this leather are absolutely magnificent and special, although they are more delicate. By touching them with wet hands you can leave imprints that will then dry out and disappear. However, it is not recommended to touch the skin too much or expose it to moisture as the shade of the handbag can be damaged or leave some spots. It has already happened in the past. This is why we believe that claiming ostrich leather is waterproof is a bit exaggerated.


Semi-glossy pink ostrich leather handbag


Very soft ostrich leather handbag

The first photo features a pink ostrich leather handbag. As you can see, it is shiny and therefore it is more resistant to moisture. In the second photo you can observe a very soft ostrich leather bag with opaque finish. Even the photo is able to demonstrate its softness and, being free from polish, a wet hand might leave fingerprints.

In any case, the resistance over time of any natural leather product, including exotic animal skin, depends upon conscious and gentle use. Certainly, walking in the rain with a leather handbag or spilling a glass of water over it in a bar are not such good ideas.


Tone, cut and processing of ostrich leather for luxury products

Ostrich leather before processing has a uniform color and is perfectly prepared for dyeing. Hundreds of shades of colors are possible: there is no limit to the imagination. The range of colors is truly vast, but the product is always a solid color. The color scheme can be slightly changed according to the season or the current fashion, but in the end there is not much difference (between new collections and previous ones), given that it is a high quality, classic material , there is no need for change.

There are several options for processing ostrich leather, with embossed or flat follicles, dark or monochromatic:

  • Classic processing – can be semi-glossy or opaque;
  • “Vintage” processing – through a particular process, the color does not look uniform but a “lived-in” effect is created;
  • “Satin” processing – the soft leather has a shiny surface resembling satin;
  • “Pearled” processing;
  • Very soft matte finish.

These are some of the most common options. Every tannery gives a different name to the process, but the result is nearly the same. We are always aware of the latest developments in the “world” of ostrich leather, seeking to offer you new special and various options, although classic finishing has always been a symbol of elegance and luxury.

What kind of leather to choose and how to work it depends on the specific case. What may seem to be a defect in one case, in another model with a different style it may become a real discovery.

4967 Ostrich handbag GLENI

Brown ostrich handbag, “vintage” effect”

Gold satin ostrich Handbag GLENI

Golden ostrich handbag, “satin’ effect



Ostrich leather products do not require any CITES certification, so it is much simpler and faster to ship them to all countries around the world without encountering difficulty in customs. Although it belongs to the category of exotic animals (such as python, anaconda, crocodile and alligator), it is not subject to CITES certification. This helps to ship the product immediately without having to wait for the competent authorities to issue the certificate. In the case of ostrich leather articles, you only need to submit an “internal” certification issued directly by the manufacturer, which indicates the origin of the skin and certifies that it is not included in the list of animals protected by CITES.


In summary

So, what features should you consider when deciding to buy an ostrich leather handbag?

  • Pay attention to leather quality, uniformity of thickness and lack of defects;
  • Determine what is the desired outcome – do you prefer a bag that presents uniformly distributed follicles or is it possible to alternate smooth areas and porous areas?
  • Choose the type of processing: the classic one costs less, the leather is less soft, although the shiny coating makes it more resistant to moisture and other possible damage; other types of processing are more expensive, but the skin is more soft and smooth, requiring more conscious use.

Worth noting

  • There is no need for a quality ostrich leather handbag to have follicles on the whole surface, in fact, many designers/artisans also prefer to use parts of the leather with no follicles to give articles a dynamic look.
  • It is absolutely acceptable that skin has irregularities. They usually result from damage to the living animal, emphasizing that the skin is natural.
  • The level of waterproofing of ostrich leather depends on its processing. In each case, any item of this kind requires gentle use.
  • It is necessary to evaluate the thickness of the skin. Occasionally, small and lesser known details, such as handles or straps, are made of lesser quality leather and therefore not very durable and resistant to regular use.

Ostrich leather is a truly luxurious material that deserves to be noticed when you want to have a product of character that stands out. Ostrich leather items are designed for those who understand the value of expensive yet high quality items. This is the way to obtain a product that will accompany you for a long time.


10 thoughts on “Practical facts about ostrich leather

  1. Rebecca Sejane

    Goid day
    I am interseted in a brown vintage ostrich bag. Could i know the price. Thank you

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    1. Serena Post author

      Dear Jimmie,

      Thank you for your comment!
      We hope this article helped you.


    1. Serena Post author

      Dear Vicki,

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      Have a great day!


  3. Grady Elliott

    Awesome design handbags you share on this blog. I am impressed with these bags. I haven’t any word to appreciate this post. I like very soft ostrich leather handbag. Thanks for sharing.


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