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Learning about Exotic Leather: Short Tail Python Skin


In our last post, we discussed in brief the three different types of python skin that are commonly traded: the short tail python, the Burmese python, and the diamond python.

Today, we’re digging into the details regarding the short tail python as an exotic leather.


While smaller than the Burmese Python or the diamond python, the short tail python still gives a respectable yield per skin due to the very slight taper from the widest part of the hide to the narrower ends.Of the three most commonly-traded python species, the Brongersmai, or short tail python, is the smallest. However, this does not mean that the short tail python is a small animal by any means.

On average, the short tail python tends to be 1.6 meters (roughly 5.2 ft.), and 28 cm (11 inches) wide at the widest point of the belly, slowly tapering to 15 cm (5.9 inches) at the ends. This means that for the average short tail python skin, you can expect to have about 5 sq. ft.  (0.46 m2) of skin.

The reason the amount of skin you can get from a single hide is so high is that the tapering of the hide is very slight until you near the ends. This width and length makes the short tail python great for use in many different applications, such as handbags, belts, footwear, etc.


Short tail python skin possesses wide belly scales that stand out in manufactured goods.The center belly scales of the short tail python tend to be several times wider than the rest of the scales on the hide. This makes the belly scales of the hide stand out next to the rest of the animal’s smaller scales, drawing the eye easily in any item that displays belly scales. In fact, the center belly scales are substantially wider on the short tail python (35 mm in the center and 20 mm toward the ends) than they are on the Burmese (25 mm in the center and 20 cm toward the ends). 

Contrary to the other species, these hides are pnly available in a back-cut bleached style. A back cut means that the hide was split down the back, leaving the belly scales intact and on display in the center of the piece. Bleaching the hide removes the natural markings from the hide, ensuring a smooth, consistent color once the hide is dyed.

One other thing that you might notice about short tail python hides is that they tend to be thicker than the Burmese python’s hide. The short tail python is approximately 0.6/0.8 mm thick, while the Burmese averages merely 0.5/0.7 mm. This gives your product a little fuller body and plush hand. 

Tips for Working with Short Tail Python Hide

If you want to reduce wear and tear on your sewing needles, or just want to have a thinner, more flexible hide, you may want to sand down the underside of the hide to reduce its thickness. When doing so, it is important to be careful not to reduce the hide’s thickness too much, or else you risk compromising the integrity of the hide.

Treating the scales of the short tail python with conditioner formulated for snake hides can help add luster to your finished product, making it more attractive when on display, in addition to providing protection against contaminants.

While short compared to the other species of python that are commonly available, the amount of skin you can get with a single short tail hide is still considerable. In many cases, this might mean that you will have some leftover hide after you cut out your panels for your project. Depending on the size of the scraps you’re left with, you may be able to make other items from the spare hide, such as watch straps, wrist bands, wallets, and other small accessory items to go with your primary product.

As a material for exotic leather projects, short tail python hide is an excellent choice for meeting the needs of your most discerning clients. With the bleached appearance and wide belly scales, you can easily create a sleek piece that draws the eye.

Interested in working with short tail python skin, or any other exotic leather? Contact Pan American Leathers today for a free consultation using the link below:

Free Project Consultation

A Brief Overview of Python Skins


In many of our recent blog posts about high-end handbags, we’ve discussed the use of python skin. In those posts, we discussed how python skin makes for a great material to use for large fashion accessories. 

However, what we didn’t mention earlier was that there are actually three different species of python that are frequently used for exotic leather. They are:

  • The Short Tail Python.

  • The Burmese Python.

  • The Diamond Python.

Each of these python species have their own distinguishing characteristics that separate them from one another, which we will discuss in brief here.

The Short Tail Python

Here's an example of a red short-tail python skin. Note the wide belly scales going across the center of the skin.The short tail python, which has the scientific name of Brongersmai, is found in western Malaysia, Sumatra, and several islands in the Strait of Malacca, preferring marsh-like tropical swamp environments.

Averaging a length of 1.6 meters and a width of 28 cm in the center and 15 cm at the ends, the short tail python is smaller than the other python species. However, the hide of a short tail python possesses a full-bodied thickness with only slight tapering, meaning that the yield for a hide of a given width will be relatively high.

The center belly scales of the short tail python are relatively wide, making a great focal point for an exotic leather piece. Currently, these hides are only available in a back cut bleached style. This shows off the wide belly scales, and ensures that the hide will be free of natural markings.

The Burmese Python

When most people think of python skins, the patterns of the Burmese python spring to mind. The round, irregular shapes are a defining characteristic of Burmese python hide.The Burmese python, also known by the scientific name of Python bivittatus (it was once considered a subspecies of python molurus, but has more recently been recognized as its own unique species). The Burmese python is natively found in Southern- and Southeast Asia. In recent years, the Burmese python has also begun to spread throughout the southeast United States as an invasive species, displacing or threatening other animal species native to the Florida Everglades.

One of the largest snake species in the world, Burmese pythons range from 2.5 to 6 meters long, and 25 to 60 cm wide at their widest point. The average size of Burmese python hides found on the market tends to be around 3.25 meters long and 28 cm wide at the center (15 cm at the ends).

The natural markings on the Burmese python are more random than other python species, and a little more rounded in shape. The hide of the Burmese python is also relatively thin, making it ideal for garment pieces where thick material would otherwise have to be shaved down.

Because the hide only tapers slightly until you near the ends of the skin, the yield for these skins tends to be high for their width. However, combined with the high demand for Burmese python hides, this means that you can typically expect to pay a little more for these hides than their counterparts.

The scales of the Burmese python’s belly are relatively narrow compared to the other two python species on this list.

As one of the most demanded python skins, Burmese pythons are available in both front and back cuts. Also, many designers like to take advantage of the natural color patterns in the hide of the Burmese python, so they are available in both bleached and unbleached varieties.

The Diamond Python

Here is a front-cut diamond python skin. The patterns in this skin tend to be more regular than those of a Burmese python, and these skins taper more severely from center to end.The diamond python, also called python reticulatus by the scientific community, derives its name from the regular, diamond-like color patterns common to this species of snake. The scientific name, reticulatus, means “net-like” in Latin, which would be another appropriate way to describe the color patterns in the hide.

Native to Southeast Asia, the diamond python grows anywhere from 3 to 6 meters long, and 25 to 60 cm wide. The average size for commercially-available skins tends to hover near 3.25 meters long, and 28 cm wide in the center.

The diamond python’s hide tends to taper more severely than the others on this list. What this means is that a diamond python skin that is equal to another type of python skin in size will actually provide a smaller yield. Because of this, the cost for a diamond python skin tends to be a little less than that of an equivalent skin from another species of python.

Similar to the short tail python, the diamond python has wide center scales, making them stand out in exotic leather goods.

Learn More

In the coming weeks, we’ll be adding more blog posts that talk about each of these three python species in detail, so check back with our blog later for more info.

If you need to know more about our exotic python skins right away, contact Pan American Leathers today to learn more, or check out our guide to python skin for free using the link below.

Python Skin Guide

Tips for Making Handbags from Python Skin


Natural python scale patterns create a truly one of a kind handbag.Not long ago, we made a list of the reasons why python skin is a great material for handbags. Python hides, which are collected from both farmed animals in Southeast Asia, can be up to 60+ centimeters wide and 6.5 meters long, has beautiful natural markings when unbleached, and becomes highly flexible when tanned.

Today, we wanted to share a few basic tips for getting the most out of your python skins when using them to make handbags:

Tip #1: Selecting a Skin

Before you can start crafting that perfect python skin handbag, you first have to choose which python skins to use. When selecting python skin, consider the following:

  • Grade. Handbags normally have very large, open panels. Because of this you typically need large, grade I skins. In a large handbag panel, there is little to no room to hide or work around flaws in a hide.

  • Size of the Handbag. Are you creating a small clutch bag, or a big bag? The bigger your project is, the larger the skin you’ll need. If you want to minimize your expenses, you’ll want to make sure that the skins that you order are only as large as you need to fit your panels. However, some handbags are so large that they need to be seamed regardless. If you are flexible, try working from what you can find in stock at tanneries and resellers.

  • Colors. Do you have a specific color in mind for your handbags, perhaps to match other items in your collection? When shopping for hides, it’s important to make sure that you get the colors you want so that your final product can match your creative vision. Here, buying your skins directly from a tannery can be helpful, as they can dye the hides any color you want during the tanning process.

  • Skin Patterns. One of the most distinctive features of a python’s skin is the patterns of colored scales on it. When ordering python hides, you often have the option of ordering either naturally-patterned skin, or ordering skins that were bleached to remove these patterns. Using natural patterns helps to quickly establish the finished piece as a genuine python skin product, while bleached skins often have a cleaner, more uniform appearance.

Keeping the above in mind while selecting python hides for your handbag project can help you ensure that the skin you get is suitable for your needs.

Tip #2: Using Scrap Material

With the largest python skins, it is often possible to get multiple panels for a handbag from a single hide. However, material near the tip of the tail tends to be much more narrow than material from the midsection. This makes materials near the tip less useful for large sections of the handbag. Instead, use these portions of the skin for straps, trim, zipper pulls and other smaller details.

By using material that would otherwise be scrapped, you can get more from your exotic leather purchase, and add a more personal touch to your designs.

Tip #3: Creating Shoulder Straps

Finding a use for scrap materials can help you get more from your python skin order.When creating handbags that use carry straps, consider buying a few extra small, low grade to use specifically for making carry straps. These skins do not necessarily have to be grade I skins, as you will have a little room to work around flaws in the hide here.

The other way to create shoulder straps would be to use sections of skin from in-between the areas cut out for the larger panels of the handbag. Unfortunately, this limits the length you can get without seaming.


Tip #4: Where to Buy Your Skin

With the above tips in mind, where should you go to buy your python skin for your next handbag project?

For exotic skins, there are two types of businesses that can furnish you with tanned hides:

  1. Tanneries. These are the businesses that actually process raw hides and turn them into leather. These businesses can process skins “to order,” putting them through tanning processes that best suit your needs. Every order from a tannery will include a surcharge to cover setup costs, whether you order one skin or a hundred skins. Tanneries are the best option for large custom skin orders where time is not an issue.

  2. Distributors. Unlike tanneries, distributors don’t process the skins themselves. Instead, they order skins from tanneries in bulk, storing them for a quick sale to their own customers (such as you). Most distributors keep a large stock of popular exotic skins in a few different colors. The big advantage here is that the skins you order from a distributor are already finished, so they can ship you your order as soon as it’s complete. However, distributors do charge a markup over what the tanneries charge them for the skins they sell. Distributors are generally best for small orders of commonly-available skin colors and finishes, especially when time is a factor (such as when you’re in a rush to get a prototype finished for a fashion show or other event).

In addition to the two businesses above, you can also place an order with a manufacturer, who will order their skins from either a tannery or a distributor, and then handle the process of turning your skins into a finished product. This is a good choice for designers who don’t have an in-house production team to work with, or who simply want to focus on the design aspect of creating products without having to worry about managing a team of workers.

We hope that you find these tips useful. If you want to learn more about working with exotic leather for a variety of projects, contact Pan American Leathers today, or request a consultation at the link below:

Free Project Consultation

Coordinating Your Exotic Leather Products with Fashion Collections


When creating a collection of clothes for any season or theme, coordinating accessories such as handbags is important.Many fashion designers specialize in the creation of accessory items such as belts, handbags, watches, wallets, and the like. For these fashion designers, the emphasis is on creating a unique, one-of-a-kind piece that will stand out and grab attention. Using exotic leathers for these accessories is a great way to make a stand-out product.

However, even for designers who specialize in making accessory items rather than entire fashion wear collections, it can be important to be able to coordinate your exotic leather accessories with a larger fashion collection. This could be because you are collaborating with a large fashion house to create a line of accessories for their latest collection, or because your accessories are being put on display on models in a fashion show. In either of these cases, coordinating your exotic leather accessories with a larger collection helps increase the appeal of the accessories for potential ultra-wealthy clients.

With the above in mind, how can you coordinate your accessories with a larger collection to maximize the attractiveness of your handbags, belts, and the like? Here are a couple of simple, practical tips we’ve assembled to help you coordinate your collection:

Tip #1: Bleaching Your Skins

Many exotic leathers such as python skin have distinctive color patterns naturally within the hide. For many designers, these color patterns are a wonderful tool for enhancing the uniqueness and beauty of their leather product.

However, a complicated color pattern in a leather accessory may clash somewhat with a larger collection. In such an instance, it may be necessary to used bleached skins which hide the natural markings on the hide. 

Of course, you can still dye the hide without bleaching it first, and the colored portions of the hide will show up as more darkly colored sections. When dyed this way, you get some color contrast in the finished product at the cost of a uniform appearance, which can be fine if the patterns complement the design of the rest of your collection.

Making the decision to use bleached or unbleached hides should be done early, before you order your hides, which brings us to our next tip…

Tip #2: Plan Ahead

Planning ahead and preparing design concepts before you order skins is a basic element of ensuring a great final product.This is one of the most basic pieces of advice for almost any endeavor, but it bears repeating: always plan ahead. Before you order your materials, you’ll want to have a detailed concept of what the collection as a whole will look like once finished. If you’re creating accessories for an existing line of clothing, this should be fairly easy, as you’ll already have a model of what the collection’s pieces each look like so you can plan around that.

When you’re creating the whole collection yourself, think about the theme you want. For example, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What’s the idea behind it?

  • Is this collection for recreation, work, or exercise?

  • Who is your intended client and what are their likes and dislikes?

  • What materials/colors will be prevalent in the collection?

Whenever you design a collection, knowing the kinds of activities that the wearer is going to be engaging in can help you choose the right materials for the job. For example, if your collection is a sportswear collection, you’ll want to use materials that are both comfortable to wear and rugged enough to take some punishment. When making accessories for work attire collections, your clients will want something that fits in well with a professional environment, something sleek and clean in appearance.

Keeping the use and theme of the collection in mind throughout the design, ordering, and manufacturing can help you anticipate potential issues with matching your exotic leather accessories to the larger collection, as well as help you with the next item on our list…

Tip #3: Picking the Right Skin to Match the Collection

There are many different kinds of exotic leathers out there that you can use for the fashion accessories you make to go with a larger collection. Some of the skins available include python skin, alligator skin, caiman crocodile skin, ostrich skin, and even stingray skin, just to name a few of the most popular choices.

Each of the above exotic skins have many different characteristics, including:

  • Size,

  • Availability,

  • Cost,

  • Available Colors/Finishes,

  • Flexibility,

  • Durability, 

  • Skin or Scale Patterns, etc.

The list goes on and on. When creating accessories to go with a collection, these characteristics should be taken into account. For example, stingray hides are incredibly durable and water-resistant, with a beady texture to the skin. However, they also tend to be stiffer than alligator or ostrich hide. Because of the durable nature of stingray hide, it makes for a great solid case-style handbag material. On the other hand, more flexible materials such as python or alligator skin are better for items meant to bend, such as belts or watchstraps.

Because of the dizzying variety of exotic leathers out there, and their many different characteristics, consulting with an experienced provider of exotic leathers can be a big help when picking out the materials you need for your accessories.

To learn more about exotic leather, you can check out some of our other blogs, or you can request a free project consultation at the link below.

Free Project Consultation

4 Reasons to Use Python Skins for Handbags


bleached python skin can make for a very attractive, and more even colored, handbag.

In a recent post, we talked about our favorite exotic leathers to use for handbags. Today, we wanted to dig a little deeper into why we love python skin as a material for handbags, and why we think you’ll want to use this particular exotic leather for your next handbag project.

So, without further ado, here is our list of reasons to use python skins for handbags.

Reason #1: Size

Pythons come in many sizes. On the small end, pythons can be 1.5 meters long and 25 cm wide. On the larger end of the spectrum, some pythons can grow to be 6.5 meters long and 60 cm or more in width, which makes this exotic skin ideal for the large panels required for plus-sized handbags.

With many skins, finding large, intact hides of sufficient size to fill a panel for a handbags can be difficult. The large sizes that python skins can reach, however, make acquiring skins of sufficient size for a handbag much simpler. In fact, python skins have been used for even larger projects, such as bed frames, sofas, and tables.

Reason #2: Availability of Grade I Hides

When making a handbag or other object that requires large panels where flaws cannot be easily hidden, you need a hide that has little to no defects such as scuffs, scars, and holes. Such defects can ruin the appearance of the final product.

Because python hides are collected from farms in addition to wild sources, it is much easier to find grade I skins that are free of flaws. Animals that grow in the wild are exposed to any number of potential sources of harm, from prey animals fighting back, predation by other animals, or harm from natural events such as a tree limb or rock falling on the python’s hide and puncturing the skin. Farmers protect python skins from being harmed by eliminating the potential for contact with predators and other forms of accidental damage.

This is one reason why pythons made the list of our favorite exotic leathers to use for handbags and anacondas did not, even though anacondas also reach large sizes and have well-defined scale patterns.

Reason #3: Scale Patterns and Markings

Python skin makes for a very distinctive and attractive handbag.

If you choose to use an unbleached python skin for your handbag, you’ll also enjoy the benefit of having a truly unique, one-of-a-kind pattern in the handbag you create. The natural markings of the python are highly recognizable and distinctive, serving as a badge of authenticity for the handbag. When a handbag is made with unbleached python skin, people will know right away.

Even bleached, the smooth scales of the python help to accent the look of the handbag, adding texture that can be both seen and felt. Whether with an elegant gloss finish or a more casual matte wax finish, the sleek scales of the python on a handbag are a beauty to behold.

Whether you choose to use an unbleached skin to highlight the natural markings on the hide, or bleach it before dyeing it to create a smoother, more uniform look, a python skin handbag is sure to turn heads wherever it goes, even among gatherings of the rich and famous.

Reason #4: Flexibility

While an untanned python skin can be very rigid, once the hide has been chromed and re-tanned with vegetable-based tanning solutions, it becomes very flexible. This makes python skin leather ideal for products that require the ability to flex, such as large handbags.

Because the python’s hide will flex easily, it is less likely to develop crease marks when it is subjected to being bent, which happens to handbags quite frequently as their owners dig around in them for that one item they’re looking for or are holding the bag in place with their arm while walking about.

Overall, python skin is a high-luxury material that will serve the needs of your most discerning clients extremely well. It’s beautiful, flexible, and available from your favorite exotic leather suppliers. To learn more about python skin, check out our free guide at the link below, or contact Pan American Leathers today.

Python Skin Guide

How Disney Used Exotic Leather to Bring Maleficent to Life


Python Skin such as this adds the perfect touch of sophistication, naturalness, and exoticness to Maleficent's outfit in the movie.Recently, Disney released its highly anticipated new take on the classic animated tale Sleeping Beauty to DVD and Blu-Ray: Maleficent. In creating a truly unique costume for Angelina Jolie to wear while playing the film’s title role, the costume designers turned to exotic leathers to create a truly inspired, one-of-a-kind look that evoked memories of the old animated classic’s character, and evolved that look for a modern audience.

Why Use Exotic Leather for This Character?

For most common fashion applications, exotic leathers are used because of their inherent beauty, strength, texture, or ability to symbolize affluence. In this movie, however, exotic leather was used in Maleficent’s costume not only because such leathers were perfect for creating an instantly memorable and visually compelling design, but because they actually help to characterize Maleficent herself.

As Jolie recalls in an interview posted on Yahoo Movies, “She’s not trying to [look] sharp… She just finds skins and snakeskins and skulls and bones.” In other words, the exotic leathers used in the costume are there to add to the authenticity of the character’s look by giving her a wardrobe made from what would be available to her in her forest home.

What exactly was available to Maleficent in her forest home?

Exotic Leathers Used in the Maleficent Costume

To clarify, there were actually several costumes made for Maleficent, each one incorporating different hides and with slight variations on the design. For example, in an article featured on, it’s revealed that Justin Smith, a milliner who worked on Jolie’s Maleficent costume, “created six different headpieces that corresponded with the seasons and specific scenes.” Each of these headpieces incorporated different materials as necessary to fit the scene, including:

  • Stingray skin, with its telltale beady texture, is durable enough for stunt work, but beautiful enough for a center display piece in a major movie scene.

    Stingray Leather. Tough, beautiful, and water resistant, stingray leather possesses a unique, bead-like surface texture that is unlike most other leathers. The calcium rich beads in the stingray’s skin allow it to resist abrasions and punctures that would rip regular cowhide to shreds.

  • Python Skin. Used specifically for Maleficent’s “summer look,” python skin is a popular material for projects with large panels. For the movie, the natural scale patterns were bleached out and dyed over to get a more uniform appearance that would blend well with the rest of Maleficent’s outfit for those scenes.

Other natural materials used in Maleficent’s movie costume include soft goat “Nappa” leather for her robes, duck and other bird feathers for her shoulders and a set of physical prop wings that were used as a model for the CGI wings in the movie, and bones for her jewelry.

Where did the inspiration for this costume come from? According to Yahoo Movies, the team of costume designers was led by Oscar-nominated Anna B. Sheppard, who took inspiration from French and Italian art ranging from the 15th century through the Renaissance, in addition to the original character design from the 1959 animated feature.

For this movie, exotic leathers were the perfect way to heighten the authenticity and the exotic nature of the character of Maleficent, creating a more fully realized character that is more striking than “evil witch in black robes” would be with plain cloth.

If you know of any major movies to use exotic leather, share it with us in the comments below. To get answers about different exotic leathers for your next project, contact Pan American Leathers today!

Schedule An Appointment

Our 3 Favorite Exotic Leathers to Use for Handbags


There's a lot of money to be had in the purse/handbag industry, especially for creative and talented designers who use top-quality materials.In the high-fashion industry, accessories such as handbags are an intensely competitive market for designers. For many top fashion houses, handbags are a lucrative business, one that keeps them very busy. In fact, some fashion houses have waiting lists for their handbags that very wealthy clients will be on for years before getting their handbag.

In a field where clients are willing to wait for years to get their perfect handbag, it’s important to have a product that stands out for the right reasons, one that exceeds the client’s expectations. A great way to start creating the perfect handbag to please the most demanding clients is to use the very best materials for that handbag.

One way to create a truly unique look while making sure that your clients know that you’re using the best materials for a handbag design is to use exotic leathers in your handbags. With this in mind, we here at Pan American Leathers have assembled a list of some of our favorite exotic leathers to use in handbags.

Top Handbag Leather #1: American Alligator Skin

Alligator leather is a very popular choice for handbags, it's flexible, distinctive, and easy to work with.Alligator leather is a very popular choice for handbags; it's flexible, distinctive, and easy to work with. Of the different crocodilian species used for leather, the American alligator is perhaps the most luxurious and easiest to work with.

The hide of the American alligator has very little calcium. This makes American alligator skin much less bony in comparison to other crocodilian species. Because there is so little calcium in the alligator hide, the hide is flexible and easier to dye. When you want a solid, even color in your handbag, alligator leather is your go-to material.

With the flexibility of alligator hide, it makes for an ideal material for handbags. Why? Because, over time, handbags will be repeatedly exposed to both light and severe bending from everyday use. With repeated flexing, a more rigid skin will begin to show crease marks. However, alligator skin, being more pliable than other crocodilian hides, will not show crease marks as easily. This allows alligator hide to continue looking like new for longer with less maintenance.

Top Handbag Leather #2: Python Skin

Python skins are large, wide, and flexible, which makes them almost perfect for handbags.A native of Southeast Asia, the python is a reptile that needs no introduction. Gathered from both the wild and from farms, the python is a popular choice for many different high fashion and design projects. Part of the reason for this is the size that python skins can grow to: small skins are 25 cm wide and 1.5 meters long, while the largest skins can be 60 cm or more in width and as much as 6.5 meters long. In short, python skin is easily large enough to meet the panel size demands of a large handbag. 

Because these skins come from farms as well as the wild, it is often easier to find the kind of large, grade I skins needed for items with big, open panels such as handbags. This makes the python a superior choice compared to the anaconda, which is taken only from wild sources which makes getting large, pristine skins incredibly difficult. 

The primary drawback with the python is that in some markets, such as California, you cannot trade in items made from python skins. 

With python skins, you have a choice of whether or not to use the natural skin patterns of the python in your project, or to bleach the skin and dye it to make it a consistent, even color. While it may be slightly more difficult to use the natural scale patterns in a manner that creates a perfectly polished look, it can be well worth the effort for the uniqueness and the added authenticity a natural finish provides. On the other hand, using a bleached and dyed skin may make it easier to match the handbag to a specific collection of fashion wear.

To learn more about python skins, check out our Guide to Python Skin.

Top Handbag Leather #3: Caiman Skin

Of the exotic leathers on this list, caiman skin is one of the most cost-effective, making it great for a larger product launch by comparison. While more rigid than alligator leather, caiman skin is still a top-rate material for high-fashion accessories such as handbags.

Caiman skin comes from farm-raised sources, which helps to ensure that there are more grade I skins available on the market than skins that only come from wild sources. The largest commonly available caiman skins are roughly 40 cm in size, making caiman skins better suited for small to mid-size handbags.

With caiman skin's natural rigidity, these hides are particularly well-suited for use in hard-case type handbags. 

To learn more about how you can work exotic leathers into your next handbag project, contact Pan American Leathers today!

Schedule An Appointment

Working with Caiman Skin for Handbags


Caiman handbagCaiman skin is a popular choice for high-fashion accessories and footwear. Not very long ago, we discussed a few general tips for working with crocodilian leathers for handbags. In the world of high fashion, handbags made from crocodilian hides are highly desirable. Ultra-wealthy clients pay top dollar for handbags made of crocodile skin, as a mark of distinction in the fashion community. Today, we’d like to talk about the use of caiman crocodile skin for handbags specifically.

Why Use Caiman Skin for Handbags?

One question that many designers of high-fashion accessories often ask themselves before starting work on an exotic leather project is “why would I want to use this material for this project?” Such questions lead to thinking critically about the project, what the goals of it are, and how the material in question contributes to making the best product possible.

With caiman skin being one of the more difficult of the most popular crocodilian hides to work with, why would you want to use it instead of Nile crocodile or American alligator skin for your handbag project? There are actually a few reasons for using caiman skin in your handbags over the other types of crocodilian species, such as:

  • Cost. On average, for every Nile croc skin that you could afford for your leather project, you could buy three caiman skins for close to the same price.

  • Rigidity. Often viewed as a negative quality, the rigidity of the caiman’s hide can actually be desirable for hard-case designs. The pronounced, calcium-rich scales in caiman skin are sturdy, making them ideal for a more rigid case design.

  • Natural Scale Patterns. With caiman hides, the calcium deposits in the skin actively resist getting an even dye color. While this can make the skin more difficult to dye, it also helps to establish the final product as a genuine crocodile hide product. The lighter-colored portions of the hide represent a mark of the calcium in the hide. This adds authenticity to the final product, and lets buyers know that they’re getting a genuine crocodile skin product, not a stamped imitation.

While generally regarded as being more difficult to work with than the other crocodilian hides, caiman skin is still a high-quality material for any high-fashion project. Using caiman skins to the greatest effect can separate the pros from the amateurs when it comes to fashion design.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for getting the most out of caiman skins for handbags.

Tip #1: Picking the Right Skins for the Job

In general, you want to avoid using hides with holes or other blemishes for handbags.When picking out caiman skins for your handbag project, it is important to find clean, defect-free skins of a considerable size for each panel. 

In general, caiman skins are good for small to mid-size handbags. Small handbags take skins that are somewhere between 30 and 34cm wide, while medium-sized handbags need skins that are 35 to 39cm wide.

The largest caiman skins available commercially ar 40cm in width. This can make finding enough caiman skins big enough for a large handbag much more difficult than finding ones for small to mid-size ones.

As a general rule, you’ll want to use grade I skins for any handbag project because handbags have large, open panels where it will be difficult to hide the blemishes and puncture marks of a grade II or lower skin.

When making a bulk order for caiman skin, try to make sure that each skin comes from the same dye lot. This helps to ensure a more consistent appearance for each skin that you use, and prevents the possibility of any single handbag having an uneven appearance where individual panels don’t have a consistent coloration.

Tip #2: Treating the Skin

Caiman skin is a relatively inflexible material compared to Nile crocodile or American alligator hides, which is a direct result of it having more calcium in it than the other two skins. Because of this, it is more likely to develop stretch marks or creases from being flexed too much than the others.

To reduce the appearance and severity of crease marks in the hide, you can apply crocodile leather conditioners to the skin to protect it from becoming damaged. Treating the skin with a conditioner can also add luster while helping to prevent outward signs of damage from daily wear and tear.

Tip #3: Sewing

Preparing sewing lines before putting a caiman hide under your machine can make life much easier, and make your sewing needles last longer.The calcium deposits in a caiman’s hide make for an interesting challenge when sewing said hide into a fashion product. More than once, a sewing machine’s needle has been bent or broken by hitting a hard calcium deposit in the hide of a caiman.

Two things you can do to avoid this include:

  1. Marking calcium deposits and laying skins on panels in such a way as to minimize the number of them that you’ll have to sew over.

  2. Preparing sewing lines with a dremel to thin out the calcium deposits so that a sewing needle may pass through.

Doing either (or both) of these can help you to reduce the number of times production has to be brought to a halt in order to repair the sewing machine so that work can continue, saving both time and money in the end.

To get more tips about working with caiman hides for handbags and other popular accessories, contact Pan American Leathers. Or, you can get a free project consultation today using the link below.

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Announcing New Caiman Hornback and Nile Crocodile Skins in the Shop!


The strong ridges of a caiman hornback skin make it great for creating bold designs, even when colors are subdued.In many of our recent posts, we’ve discussed the use of crocodilian skins for leather accessories and fashion wear, particularly for handbags and boots. Today, Pan American Leathers is proud to announce that we have added both Nile crocodile and caiman hornback skins to our shop page!

These popular crocodile hides are the perfect way to create a truly memorable and one of a kind design for a variety of fashion accessories.

Uses for Caiman Hornback Skins

Caiman hornback skins are ideal for the following uses:

  • Automotive accessories. Caiman skin is often used in car upholstery and other accessories.

  • Handbags. Caiman hornback skins lend a strong patterned look to handbags, ensuring look that is unique and striking in handbags.

  • Boots. For western-style boots, few exotic leathers are as ideally suited to the task as caiman hornback skins.

  • Home decoration/furniture. When a design client wants to create a memorable living space that guests will talk about for months to come, exotic leathers such as caiman hornback skin are perfect for creating a lasting first impression.

Caiman hornback skin prominently features the ridges and heavy scales of the caiman for all to see. This emphasis on texture and pattern creates a strong impression on those who see it. 

What to Use Nile crocodile Skin for

Crocodile skin is a luxurious and beautiful material for any high fashion project.

Nile crocodile skin is a luxurious and beautiful material for any high fashion project.

For the most part, Nile crocodile skins are useful for all of the same applications that caiman crocodile skins can be used for. What separates Nile croc hides from caiman hides is the fact that they tend to have much less calcium in their scales. This renders Nile skins softer and more flexible than caiman skins, making them easier to work with. For example, when used for belts and handbags, the superior flexibility of a Nile crocodile’s skin allows it to bend more easily without developing crease marks. This makes Nile crocodile skin even more desirable as a material for high-fashion wear and accessories.

Beyond being useful for belt, handbags, and high fashion accessories, Nile crocodile skins are a great material for creating large-panel items such as large handbags because they are softer and available in larger sizes than caiman skin.

Another thing that separates Pan American Leather’s new Nile croc skins from the new caiman hornback skins is that the Nile crocodile hides are belly cuts. Where the caiman hornback skins feature strong scale ridge patterns prominently in the center of the hide, Nile croc belly skin is more recessed and smoother in appearance. The effect for your final product is a sleeker, more streamlined look that is great for creating a subtler, more elegant look.

Check out the Pan American Leather Shop Now!

If you’re interested in crafting a unique piece from some of the finest, most luxurious hides on the market, check out the Pan American leather shop to see what colors and cuts are available for your next project today.

For small orders, we can ship from our U.S.-based tannery in upstate New York or one of our USA-based showrooms to ensure fast delivery. For large custom orders, we can ship from our tannery in New York or Bogotá (for caiman belly or hornback) for better pricing.

Pan American Leathers is an independent retailer of custom-tanned exotic leathers for a variety of high-fashion industry clients. We’ve supplied top-quality skins to many of the top fashion houses in the industry, but have remained independent so that you can get the same quality and service that leading fashion designers count on for their products without the conflict of interest that is inherent to dealing with a fashion-house affiliate.

The team here at Pan American Leathers is here to help you get the best exotic leathers to match your needs. We look forward to seeing you at our showrooms in New York City, New York and Fort Worth, Texas soon.

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4 Tips for Making Crocodile Skin Handbags


Crocodile leather handbags are a hot commodity on the high fashion market.Crocodile skin is a luxurious, supple material that is very much in demand in the fashion industry. With high-fashion crocodile handbags selling for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, getting the manufacture of your crocodile skin right is incredibly important for impressing ultra-wealthy clients. With this in mind, we’ve assembled a few short tips for making crocodile skin handbags that should be helpful.

Tip #1: Choosing Your Crocodilian Species

There are a few dozen different species of crocodiles in the world, a few of which are commonly used for leather. Three of the most popular are:

  1. The caiman crocodile.

  2. The Nile crocodile.

  3. The American alligator (it’s a member of the order crocodilia under the scientific classification).

With handbags, you generally want to have a flexible material to use for the bag. The caiman crocodile has the boniest skin, rendering it less flexible and harder to work with, while the American alligator has very little boniness to it at all, making the most flexible and easiest to work with. Nile crocodiles fall in between these two extremes, having some calcium deposits, but not nearly as much as caiman crocodiles do.

This boniness also affects how well each species of crocodile will take to being dyed, so keep that in mind as well. Bonier hides are tougher to dye evenly, while less bony hides are easy to dye.

Tip #2: Choosing the Size and Grade of Hides

Caiman hides are measured a bit differently from alligator and Nile crocodile hides.With handbags, you’ll need to use very large, clean panels of skin for each bag. High-fashion handbag customers want only top-quality workmanship and materials, so top-grade skins will be the most desirable. In most cases, you will need a nearly flawless, grade I skin to get the best results.

For small handbags, the crocodile hide should be at least 30 to 34cm wide. Medium-sized handbags generally need 35 to 39cm wide skins, and large handbags take 40 to 50cm wide grade I skins. If flaws in the skin are kept to the extreme edges of the hide, you might be able to use a grade II skin that is oversized.

Tip #3: Using Scraps for Straps

If the layout of your panels leaves you with excess hide, use that extra skin to make the carry strap, gussets, interior details and other odd parts. This can save you a large amount of money on buying extra skins, and gives you accents that will perfectly match the handbag they are attached to.

If you don’t have enough excess material to do this, consider buying smaller, grade II or III skins to make into carry straps. With these straps, it’s easier to work around flaws in the hide, as long as they aren’t extra-wide. When buying hides specifically for straps, make sure that they’re the same type of cut (belly or hornback, for example) and come from the same dye lot as the ones being used for the bags themselves.

Tip #4: Preparing Sewing Lines

Leather sewing machines might be heavy duty, but even the toughest needles can bend or break on a calcium-rich skin if it isn't prepared correctly.When working with bonier hides such as caiman or Nile crocodile skins, be sure to prepare sewing lines with a dremel or other tool to thin the hide and prevent calcium deposits from bending or breaking your needles. In the long run, taking a few minutes to prepare sewing lines will actually save you time and frustration on fixing up your sewing machines and replacing needles every other motion.

To learn more about using crocodile leather for handbags, contact Pan American Leathers today!

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