Leather is a common hat material popular due to it being breathable as well as durable. A good leather hat should last for decades with a bit of care. It is also used in millinery for blocking hat shapes, trims and flowers.

The main benefits of using leather for hat-making are that leather is soft and hold its shape. Leather retains its elasticity and is easy to clean. Its durability and strength is as good as any other hat material.

Leather is often used on Western hats, caps and military hats amongst others.

Hat-makers often use strong leathers such as cow or kangaroo leather for Western style or bush type hats. Millinery often use lamb, goat, fish, and pig leather which are generally thinner and easier to manipulate in to a shape.

Leather grades

Here are the four most common grades of leather from top to bottom:

  • Full-grain leather
  • Top-grain leather
  • Genuine leather
  • Bonded leather

Spot the difference between real leather and fake / faux leather


Look inside the hat to see if there are any labels stating what it’s made from. The label could be concealed under the hat band, so look carefully.


Fake leather feels smooth, plastic like, cold and not stretchable. Real leather feels soft and flexible with a grainy feel, warm and can be stretched.


Real leather has a very distinctive oaky smell. Fake leather on the other hand is odourless.


Real leather has pores – the small openings in the leather in which oil and sweat reach the surface from glands underneath. Fake leather has none.

Hats commonly made from Leather

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