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Commercial Leather Association of Australia & New Zealand



The CLA has been established as a forum for the Commercial and High End Residential Leather Industry to provide its customers with updated and relevant industry standards and information that will be of benefit in the understanding and use of commercial and high end residential leathers, and to promote the use of leather as a preferred upholstery material.


The Commercial Leather Association of Australia and New Zealand (CLA) has been established to provide, for the first time, the Australian and New Zealand design, furniture and wider community with a set of definitions and standards for upholstery leather.

The aim of the CLA standards and symbols is to ensure that the commercial and high end residential leather market and its clients are provided with accurate information about the different leather types available and their qualities so that informed decisions can be made when specifying and purchasing upholstery leather.

It is the CLA's and its members’ charter and intention to continue to inform and educate the market on leather, leather standards and end use applications.

The CLA standards are based upon the European Union standards EN 13336 effective September 2004 and implemented in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

The definitions used in these guidelines are referenced from the International Glossary of Leather Terms (IGLT).

The CLA is the authoritative voice of the commercial and high end residential leather industry and includes commercial
and high end residential leather wholesalers. Its aim is to ensure that independent and accurate standards are developed and made available to the commercial and high end residential design and furniture industries.

Membership is open to any upholstery leather wholesaler who agrees to comply with the code of conduct and whose leathers meet the definitions and standards as established by the association.

The CLA represents the major commercial and high end residential leather wholesalers including:

This Standard details the terminology to be used to accurately inform the commercial specifier, furniture manufacturer and end user so as to make certain that the leather type they specify or purchase is the type that is represented by the leather wholesaler.

LEATHER: A comprehensive Glossary of Leather Terms has been issued by the International Council of Tanners (ICT) and defines leather as follows:

"A general term for hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact, tanned to be imputrescible. The hair or wool may or may not have been removed. Leather is also made from a hide or skin which has been split into layers or segmented either before or after tanning, but if the tanned hide or skin is disintegrated mechanically and/or chemically into fibrous particles, small pieces or powders and then, with or without the combination of a binding agent, is made into sheets or other forms, such sheets or forms are not leather. If the leather has a surface coating, this surface layer, however applied, must not be thicker than 0.15mm". ICT 1999

TYPES OF LEATHER COMMONLY USED IN FURNITURE: The following descriptions shall be used to describe the various types of leather. Where a CLA member’s leather conforms to the standards, it is mandatory to display the following descriptions and or symbols in full at the point of sale ie. sampling, information brochures, web sites etc.

These definitions have been included for the benefit of specifiers, furniture manufacturers and end users to enable them to make an informed decision regarding the differences and qualities of the different leather types.

Leather that has been drum dyed without pigment applied to surface. A light protective coating is sometimes added. It will exhibit all natural features such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Only the best raw hides are selected for this leather type. Requires regular care.

Drum dyed aniline leather where the surface grain has been buffed, which may or may not have been treated with any protective coating. Requires regular care with nubuck specific care products.

Drum dyed aniline leather with a top coat of oil and/or wax effects, designed to exhibit a 'distressed look'. Exhibits all the natural features such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Requires regular care.

Drum dyed leather incorporating a small amount of pigment and protective finish however this finish does not conceal all the natural characteristics of the hide. Requires regular care.

Drum dyed with thicker layer of pigment and protective finish applied. These finishes will conceal natural markings such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Lower grade hides are selected for this type of leather. Requires regular care.

Drum dyed with the natural grain removed, a heavy layer of pigment and protective finish is applied. The leather is then embossed with an artificial patterned grain, which provides a uniform appearance, ie. no natural markings such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles etc. Lower grade hides are selected for this type of leather. Requires regular care.

For the purposes of this Standard, regular care means the application of commercially available leather care products, used in accordance with care label instructions.The following definitions are included for reference only.

Re-coated embossed leather made from the under layers of hide.

Lower layers of hide laminated to a surface coat.

Uses the lower split, with a film of coloured polyurethane applied.

1. Splits and Laminated Splits are not recommended for use on furniture, as they are suited only for shoe inners, work boots some belts etc.
2. By Cast does not appear in the IGLT (1999) and the CLA warns against the use of this material.
3. Leather Standards - for each Leather Type
To qualify CLA members to use the CLA Leather Type Symbols each leather quality must have been tested at a certified laboratory to the appropriate CLA Leather category test standards test methods.

The recently published European Standards EN 13336 and test methods have been adopted by the CLA as the most appropriate standards and test methods.

The leather standards and test methods for each leather type are listed in Annex A (Table A.1a - Aniline, Nubuck and Pull Up, Table 1B - Semi-Aniline and Table 1C Pigmented and Corrected Grain).

As fire standards vary greatly, specifiers and end users must inform themselves via the fire department, Building Code of Australia (BCA) or relevant government authorities of the appropriate standards required for a particular project, location or end use situation.



Labels for each type of leather will use the following symbols for ease of identification.
CLA labels for identifying the quality and type of leather

To use the CLA symbols CLA members must meet the definition of leather under the CLA standards Glossary and pass the tests as per Annex A.

CLA members can use these symbols either singly or together, for example:

  CLA labels for identifying quality and type of leather  

It is mandatory for CLA Members to include the leather type in their description shown on samples, invoices, websites and other such documents. This can be done by using the identifying symbols and leather type name as in Clause 4 of this document.

CLA Members making a statement of compliance with this CLA Standard on a product, packaging or promotional material related to that product must ensure that such compliance is capable of being independently verified.

In the event of any dispute samples shall be referred to a registered laboratory, The British Leather Council, Reutlingen Leder Schule, Germany or a similarly accredited laboratory.

All leather types (as described in 2.3) have been used successfully in both residential and commercial applications.

The CLA recommends that specifiers, retailers and manufacturers take care to ensure that the leather specified is appropriate for each individual project. Please refer comments in Recommended Values Column of Annex A.

Clients should be advised to discuss leather types and their suitability in relation to individual projects with the relevant CLA member. It is important that the client understands the various qualities of each leather type.

ANNEX A (normative)
A.1 Essential characteristics, recommended values and test methods for upholstery leather for furniture.
CLA description of how the symbols represent a property of the leather
CLA description number 2 of how the symbols represent a property of the leather
CLA description number 3 of how the symbols represent a property of the leather


Contemporary Leathers Pty Ltd
T 61 2 9317 0222
F 61 2 9317 0266

Instyle Textiles & Leathers Ltd (NZ)
T 64 9 368 5768
F 64 9 368 5769

H. Leffler & Son Pty Ltd
T 61 3 9990 4500
F 61 3 9090 4599

Vivid Textiles Ltd (NZ)
T 64 9 302 8885
F 64 9 302 8886

Wollsdorf Leder Pty Ltd
T 61 3 9587 5250
F 61 3 9587 6147

Woven Image Pty Ltd
T 61 2 9913 8668
F: 61 2 9913 8669

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