What is Saffiano Leather | How to Properly Clean & Care

Saffiano leather is very popular in many luxury products. It ranges from bags, wallets, belts, and even watch straps. In this article, you will learn all about what Saffiano leather is, how it is made, and how you can take care of it.

A short history of Saffiano leather

Before the qualities of Saffiano became known worldwide, it was actually developed and patented by Mario Prada himself back in 1913. It was created in one of Italy’s most famous tanneries made from only the highest quality calf leather. It quickly became a signature design in the house Prada.

Once the patent expired in the 1990s, it then found its way among other famous labels like Coach, Michael Kors, and Longchamp. Since the term Saffiano is no longer legally protected, manufacturers are now able to create all sorts of variations.

What is Saffiano leather?

Modern Saffiano leather is all about its texture. Originally, it was made from calfskin that was stamped and coated with a protective wax layer. Nowadays, all sorts of materials with the crosshatch pattern are called Saffiano leather, even if it’s made of vegan or faux leather. Because of this, the quality is usually quite varied and can only be guaranteed by the most reputable brands.

How is it made?

The term Saffiano comes from the cross hatch print that you can see on the leather surface. Traditionally, it is made by pressing into the wax that serves as the protective cover of the leather. This stamping method on the calf leather creates a distinct diagonal pattern known as Saffiano and it was originally designed to be waterproof with a vegetable-tanned base.

Here’s how the traditional textured Saffiano leather is made:

  1. The leather material is placed into a machine and heated up to 165°F.
  2. It is then pressed on for 10-15 seconds to create the pattern.
  3. The wax finishing is applied.

Nowadays, Saffiano leather is not necessarily genuine leather. Saffiano leather can be made from faux leather with the crosshatch pattern stamped onto it. The traditional method was used during its patent period, but now everyone has rights over the term Saffiano.

Faux leather uses all sorts of stamping methods and processes in order to produce and mimic many types of leather patterns. This can be easily done for the Saffiano pattern as well.

What is Saffiano leather used for?

You can see Saffiano leather is mostly used on high-end designer bags, wallets, and even belts nowadays. Those who produce Saffiano leather garments or furniture opt for this leather texture because of its remarkable durability and other many positive attributes.

Saffiano leather is seen as a luxury pattern, even though it does not necessarily guarantee its quality. If you buy Saffiano leather from an unknown brand, it may be difficult to find out whether the quality of the leather or faux leather used is good or not. Especially since it is a stamped pattern that hides the underlying material.


Because of its wax coating, Saffiano leather is considered to be pretty durable and scratch-resistant. It’s also easy to clean since its protective coating is water-repellent. If you are looking for high-quality Saffiano leather, you can trust high-end fashion houses to have Saffiano leather garments that are not made from synthetic leather.


One of the disadvantages of Saffiano leather is that it feels kind of synthetic compared to other real leather made from animal hide. Some people don’t really mind that it feels sort of like plastic, but real leather sometimes ends up looking or feeling like vinyl so it’s not really a major concern for most.

The Saffiano pattern is simply corrected grain. It does not show the natural pattern of the leather, so it can be quite difficult to distinguish between genuine and faux leather when it comes to Saffiano.

Why is Saffiano leather so expensive?

Saffiano leather, especially those made by high-end designer brands are expensive because it is considered as the hallmark of quality leather product by them. Also, the traditional tanning process for Saffiano leather is time-consuming. Since it is durable, water-repellant, scratch, and stain-resistant, it’s more on getting your money’s worth with your item.

You can get your hands on cheaper Saffiano leather items, but there is no guarantee that they will last long especially if it’s only made from faux leather and not real leather.

Is Saffiano leather real leather?

Saffiano leather isn’t necessarily a type of leather. Moreso, it is a pattern on the leather. Saffiano leather can be made from faux leather with the Saffiano pattern pressed onto it, just like how it can be done on genuine leather with its grain corrected with a synthetic outer layer.

In modern times, Saffiano leather is more about the pattern than the actual leather itself. It can be made from PVC faux leather, vinyl, and other faux leather materials, so long as it can be stamped with the crosshatch pattern.

Vegan Saffiano leather

There have been many manufacturers and brands concentrating on animal-free leather. This also includes Saffiano leather. Not all Saffiano leather is vegan as some are made from genuine leather. However, there are certain faux leather brands that are focused on making high-quality faux leather tailored towards vegan philosophy.

Is Saffiano leather durable?

Yes, they are very durable and the only thing that can harm this type of leather are sharp items that can pierce through the wax coating. Since Saffiano is also easy to clean, you can expect for it to last you for decades with proper care. Of course this also comes with the knowledge of how to take care of your leather items and the proper storage conditions.

How to clean and take care of Saffiano leather

Even though Saffiano leather is very durable, you should also know the basics on how to care for it. First off, you can search for the tags or labels for the specific instructions before you try to clean it yourself. If you can’t find any care instructions on your product, you can try these methods below:

Use leather wipes

If you happen to find light dust or stains on your Saffiano leather, you can use a damp cloth or leather wipes to clean it. We recommend leather wipes since they are mild and gentle and will do the job without damaging the wax coating. Just remember that when wiping, avoid pressing down too hard or you might ruin the grain pattern or the slight sheen of the Saffiano.

Allow it to dry at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Make sure that there is enough airflow in the room to avoid it from accumulating mildew.

Use a soft-bristled brush

If there is loose dust or dirt that happens to be lodged in between the cracks of your Saffiano leather, using leather wipes will not be enough to get those out. Instead, you can use a brush with soft bristles to lightly dust off your item without needing to press too hard.

Leather conditioner

Whether it is faux leather or real leather, it will benefit from having a conditioner to soften it and protects its surface. Due to the corrected grain, genuine Saffiano leather may not absorb the leather conditioner that well depending on how the corrected surface is manufactured. Don’t let that stop you from putting on conditioner, however.

Faux leather will still benefit from leather conditioner as it can absorb some of the direct sunlight that hits its surface. This will lengthen the time it takes until the synthetic material starts to peel.


If you have an item made with traditional Saffiano leather, you will want to keep it away from extreme heat that can melt or distort the wax finish. This is not that much of a worry when it comes to vegan Saffiano leather, however.

Keep it away from direct sunlight, even if it is vegan, as the faux leather can start to peel prematurely when it is exposed to too much UV radiation.

As with all real leather products, it is best to keep it away from damp locations. Store it in a dry place with plenty of ventilation to avoid mold from forming.


Saffiano leather is a staple of luxury women’s products. Though the leather may not be locked down and many brands are able to use ‘Saffiano’ even if it is not true to its original nature, it has remained very popular. Make sure to buy your Saffiano leather product from a reputable brand to ensure that you are getting the real deal.


Is Saffiano leather cow leather?

Traditionally, yes. When Mario Prada invented the Saffiano leather pattern, it was originally made from high-quality calfskin. However, nowadays there are many types of Saffiano leather made from PVC or vinyl, in short, faux leather. The Saffiano texture is still there, but instead of animal skin, producers mimic the animal skin using plastic materials.

What are the 4 grades of leather?

Leather is usually separated in 4 categories. This refers to the layers on the leather from outermost to innermost.

The outermost layer is called full-grain, it includes the very surface of the animal hide which may show some imperfections like wounds and scars. The next layer below that is top-grain, it is the layer just below the very surface. Top-grain can be corrected or sanded down smooth to remove those imperfections.

The lower grains are genuine leather and suede. They have looser fibers, so they are not as durable compared to the upper grains which have tighter fibers and are more durable.

How can you tell if Saffiano leather is real?

Due to the artificial pattern of Saffiano, it can be quite difficult to tell if it is genuine or faux leather. There is one very reliable way to tell if it is real or not; Checking the label. Assuming that you have bought an authentic product and not a knock-off the labels will be reliable. You can check if it says ‘Genuine Leather,’ and if not, you most likely have a faux leather product.


  • Luke

    With a 14-year journey dedicated to preserving and enhancing leather goods, his unwavering passion continues to fuel his expertise. When he's not immersed in the world of leather, you can find Luke enjoying exhilarating bicycle rides or exploring nature through invigorating hikes.

  • Ralf

    Ralf is a multifaceted creative enthusiast with a deep passion for various crafting hobbies, including sewing, pottery, and the captivating world of leathercraft.