In ancient times, exotic leather has been a sign of the upper class. It has been considered to be an attribute of luxury, refined taste, and wealth. Today, a bag or wallet made of crocodile or alligator leather remains an eye-catching and stylish accessory that every fashionista would die for.
If you are looking for a luxury item that just screams “I’m rich” then you should definitely get an alligator leather accessory. Alligator skin is one of the most durable and expensive materials. On the other hand, a product made of this leather will remain usable (and attractive!) for over 50 years (of course, if you treat it right). This proves the statement that high-status items are a great investment. The main thing is to pick exactly reptile skin instead of, let’s say, buffalo leather masterfully disguised as an alligator.
Ancient Egyptians believed that if a person put on reptile skin, he would become strong, rich, and happy. Today, it is still prestigious to have an accessory made of crocodile or alligator leather, be it a bag, belt, or shoes. While reptile leather clothing can cost thousands of dollars and is affordable only for very wealthy people, you won’t have to break a bank to buy an alligator wallet. In this post, we will explain why crocodile and alligator skin is so expensive, how to distinguish crocodile skin from other reptiles, what its benefits are, and how to match an alligator wallet with other wardrobe items. So let's go!
Why is Reptile Skin so Expensive?
Endangered species of alligators and crocodiles are at risk of extinction. That’s why reptiles for industrial needs are grown in artificial conditions. However, it is more like a forced measure aimed at preserving the population of wild reptiles rather than the desire to reduce the cost of production. The skin obtained from crocodile farms is very expensive due to the high net cost. Crocodiles require a huge territory for a living. The reluctance to actively reproduce in captivity is another factor that massively affects the final price. At the same time, crocodiles live at such farms for 4 - 7 years before they can be used, and during this whole time they must be fed and accommodated.
In addition to investing in the farms’ maintenance and breeding, the process of treating crocodile skins also adds a lot to the cost of a product. Crocodile leather manufacture doesn’t envisage automated production. Only manual labor is acceptable and the whole process is considered to be quite complex and multistage. The entire cycle of processing, tanning, and dying takes three long months. There is a joke among craftsmen that a dead crocodile is even more intimidating than a living one, because if you make a mistake during the process of cutting or tanning, the skin will be hopelessly spoiled, and a huge amount of money is lost. Just imagine how much such leather actually costs … Unlike other types of leather, which price is calculated per pound or foot, crocodile leather is sold per inch.
The cost of crocodile breeding and expenses associated with skin processing are not the only costs that make up an expensive price for reptile leather products. The sky-high price is also explained due to the limited number of import licenses and high customs duties on exotic materials.
With that being said, a hefty price tag is compensated by a very rare combination of flexibility, beauty of texture, and unprecedented durability.
Crocodile and Alligator Wallets from Bikerringshop
When manufacturing crocodile wallets, we do not use automated production. Each product is crafted by hand. Our approach is explained due to the fact that every piece of leather has a unique individual scale pattern. To preserve and enhance these patterns, our artisans are required to have excellent skills, attention, and creative thinking.
The leather cut is a very important stage because it affects the image of the future wallet. The pattern of a selected piece of leather prompts the design and layout of a product. To produce large wallets, we use a single piece of leather rather than stitching small pieces together. Moreover, we utilize the most beautiful pieces for the front part of a wallet. It makes our products more sophisticated and elegant.
To become an artisan crafting alligator skin wallets, a person is required at least five years of experience in this field. This art is mastered by only a few people because there is no school where this craft is taught. The only real school is going all the way up the professional ladder to gain knowledge, experience, and confidence to handle reptile skin.
Not so long ago, crocodile and alligator skin products featured only three colors: black, brown, and beige. Such a scarcity of choice was due to the fact that manufacturers didn’t want to risk and experiment with bold colors. Today, however, we offer a wide range of colors including muted, mellow shades as well as daring and exclusive hues. Bikerringshop always goes the extra mile to meet our clients’ needs to the fullest.
Our collection includes an immense selection of women’s and men’s crocodile wallets. The stylish yet timeless appearance, durable materials, and flawless craftsmanship will ensure your wallet will serve you for at least 20 years.
Dissecting a crocodile
Crocodile and alligator leather has different properties depending on which part of a hide it was taken from. Reptile leather is thin, smooth, and delicate in some places while at the same time it is thick, rough, and dotted with many horny growths in other areas.
Cervical and abdominal parts. The skin from these areas is considered to be the most beautiful and valuable. The main benefits of the cervical and abdominal skin are smoothness, uniform thickness, and the absence of osteoderms. However, the skin from these areas is forged most often, sometimes with such precision that it is difficult to distinguish a fake from the original.
The head and tail area have pronounced horny growths, osteoderms, which form the rigid shell of the animal. Osteoderms make leather thick and rough. For this reason, these parts of reptiles are rarely used to craft accessories and clothing.
Lateral area. The lateral skin is seen the most commonly seen in reptile leather goods due to lower prices compared to delicate abdominal skin. This skin is very attractive although it features less uniform and regular scales. It is also thicker and rougher than abdominal leather because of osteoderms.
The dorsal (backbone) part of large crocodiles is rarely used in the production of wallets and other accessories. It is the most rigid and thick part of crocodile’s leather which can only be utilized as a decorative element in the composition with other parts of crocodile skin. However, manufacturers often deploy the dorsal skin of young reptiles, which has a very rich and textured appearance as well as excellent durability.
Alligator vs. Crocodile vs. Caiman Leather: How to Tell a Difference?
People often confuse reptile skins and simply call them all crocodile leather. Such confusion is due to cultural differences. Americans, for example, often call crocodile skin alligator, while Europeans tend to call alligator skin crocodile. Therefore, price tags may include confusing information when crocodile leather is referred to as alligator leather and vice versa (although, the latter doesn’t happen often because alligator leather is pricier). Sometimes it is difficult to tell alligator leather from alligator or caiman leather. Their skins are very similar to each other so inexperienced buyers don’t really understand the difference. To become a reptile skin expert, a person needs 5-7 years of practical experience with various types of skin. You will not become a professional after reading this post but it will help you learn some tricks to differentiate real alligator skin from analogs.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to identify leather of a ready-made product. It is because we can only see a shred of leather and have no chance to take a look at the whole picture. However, if you buy a custom-made product, you should always ask a seller to show you a hide. Crocodiles have a shorter and wider body while alligators are more lean and elongated. Thus, the central (belly) part of a crocodile’s hide will be more square than that of an alligator.
If you come across a product made of hornback leather (the area between the head and back), you can easily determine what kind of reptile species has been used. So, look carefully at the leather. You will see several horns. Each reptile has a unique pattern of scales (they are like fingerprints) but the combination of horns always remains the same. Crocodiles have a row of 4 bumps under which 2 more bumps are located, i.e. each crocodile hornback cut will have a 4-2 pattern. If you see 2 (sometimes 3) rows with 2 horns each, then this is alligator skin (2-2-2). Caiman skin features a 4-4-2 design.
If you are considering a product made of skin from other parts of a reptile’s body, you will have to rely on your eyes and tactile sensations. If you see something like a cobweb or an elongated star pattern, you should know that this is an umbilical scar. Alligators are the only species that have it. Designers always put the umbilical scar in the most prominent place of a product since it is ironclad proof of alligator skin. Also, look closely at the scales pattern - alligator scales are distributed less evenly than those of crocodiles. Every now and then, their skin has "rhythmic failures" characterized by irregular scales.
The abdominal part of reptiles features larger rectangular scales that decrease in size and round out along the flank. The pattern of crocodile skin has a smooth transition which means the size of the scales decreases gradually. Alligator skin, on the contrary, features a more sudden transition - rectangular scales abruptly give way to small and rounded ones.
When holding a product crafted of reptile skin, look carefully at the surface of the material. You may find a small hole inside a scale. This pore is the hallmark of crocodile skin. Crocodiles have small sensitive hairs through which they perceive the world around them. During the tanning process, these hairs are removed and the tiny pores are formed in their place. Alligator and caiman leather will not have such holes. However, if you have not found any pores on the alleged crocodile skin, this is not a reason to consider it a fake. Some manufacturers seal these holes on purpose.
Both crocodile and alligator skins are soft and pliable. If a product you hold in your hands has a rough, tough, and coarse surface, then it is made of caiman leather. It can also be identified by folding - a large number of small cracks will appear along the fold. Such properties are due to the fact that all segments of caiman skin feature a hard osteoderm growth. Only the abdominal part of adult caimans is used to craft leather goods since it is less thick and rough. Manufacturers often utilize skins of young animals that are not yet rough and cracking.
When buying reptile skin products, you also have to keep in mind the geography of reptile breeding. Crocodiles are grown in the countries of Southeast Asia, so it comes as no surprise that you can find many crocodile wallet manufacturers based, for example, in Thailand. Alligators, on the other hand, are bred only in America at special alligator farms. Therefore, if you are offered an alligator wallet from a manufacturer from Asia, it is likely to be a fake.
It is important to know the difference between various members of the crocodile family since the quality and durability, as well as the aesthetic aspect of their leather, varies significantly. Alligator and crocodile leather is considered to be a premium material. Being properly processed, they feature supreme quality, outstanding durability, and a hefty price tag. Caiman leather is of inferior quality and it costs significantly less than its counterparts. Caiman leather products occupy their own niche in the market, but they are often confused with crocodile leather products. Some unscrupulous sellers try to pass caiman leather for crocodile or alligator leather and sell them at a very high price.
How to distinguish an alligator leather wallet from a fake
Crocodile and alligator leather is several times more expensive than fine cowhide. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it is often imitated. The most valuable and most commonly forged type of reptile skin is the abdominal part. There are several reasons why unscrupulous sellers try to pass counterfeit materials for abdominal reptile leather. This leather is very expensive so the fake is the most beneficial. Abdominal leather has no (or rare) horny growths, osteoderms, thanks to which its thickness doesn’t vary as much as at the other areas. Sometimes it is very difficult to identify skillful imitations but it is possible.
To distinguish real exotic skin from cheap imitations, you need to remember that the body, tail, and limbs of crocodiles are covered with large horn plates. Dorsal plates carry longitudinal ridges. The inner layer of the skin develops bone growths, osteoderms, that are located under the plates, and in some species, on the belly as well. These growths can be found only in real crocodile skin.
Due to osteoderms, reptile skin has a more dense structure and, as a rule, it cannot be dyed as deeply as other leathers. Look the color uniformity and evenness. If you see an absolutely uniform dying (unless you are looking at the abdominal leather that has a more homogenous coloration), it is a reason to be suspicious.
The shape of textured scales of reptile skin is always different. The same as there can’t be two identical fingerprints, you won’t be able to find to find two exactly the same scales. Fake alligator leather, on the contrary, features repeated patterns.
The thickness of natural crocodile and alligator leather cannot be the same across the board. The embossed leather, on the other hand, has a uniform thickness over the entire area.
When it comes to a crocodile, you should remember that it is a huge predatory reptile about one and a half meters long and 40 kg in weight. All its life it lived with other cold-blooded killers in a closed enclosure. The jaws of a crocodile are very strong and they are able to break a baseball bat in half. These circumstances certainly affect the appearance of reptile skin. Genuine crocodile skin will always have scars, damages, and irregularities, which won’t be present in fake leather.
A product made of real crocodile or alligator leather, unless it is made from pieces, cannot be cheap. You should understand that reptile leather requires much more work and time than cowhide. The manufacture of crocodile and alligator wallets involves higher responsibility, more complicated technology, and most of the work is done manually.
Responsible Approach to Business
There are many crocodile farms in the countries of Southeast Asia and Africa. To do their business, they must obtain a permit by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Only this license gives the right to export products. Most farms carry out sustainable production so besides manufacturing hides, they also produce by-products (meat, claws, teeth, stuffed animals, etc).
Our products are sold according to b the strict criteria and rules established by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Animals and Plants (CITES), which was signed in 1973 in Washington. It regulates trade in endangered species, including crocodile and alligator leather.
Every manufacturer must comply with these rules, the purpose of which is to protect endangered species of animals. Unfortunately, a black market teems with goods produced and exported without any license at all. As a buyer, you may be tempted to purchase an attractively-priced crocodile leather product but you should remember that its production entails the risk of crocodile extinction. When buying from Bikerringshop, you support responsible production and high manufacturing standards.
How to Rock Alligator Wallets
Buying exotic leather products and leaving them to gather dust in the closet is a crime … a crime against fashion. However, before you start putting on everything you’ve got, you should understand how to create a harmonious image using accessories made from alligator leather. Here are a few tips:
- Exotic leather is a prominent item, a pronounced accent that is best combined with more mellow items of the basic wardrobe. If you are an owner of an alligator wallet or clutch, especially if it features a vivid color, you should skip complementing it with eye-catching clothes. An ensemble of a red reptile wallet, tacky jacket, and cowboy boots is a no-go. Exotic leather accessories are self-contained pieces that blend well with sand-colored, beige, monochrome, and pastel clothes. By the way, a combination of an unusual wallet and restrained black or gray dress is an excellent fashion choice.
- Exotic leather accessories don’t go well with clothes featuring large prints (dogtooth, check, polka dot, etc). It goes without saying that a combination of items made of different types of leather (for instance, snake and alligator) looks tacky. Simple monophonic clothes and one eye-catching accent will refine your look.
- Products made of exotic leather look best when they are incorporated into classic looks. However, modern eclecticism makes its own rules and allows you to team up, for example, fashionable ripped jeans and a small crocodile bag.
- Don’t put on every exotic accessory you have at once. If you’re rocking your favorite crocodile belt, leave your stingray leather bag at home. Luxury requires moderation and dignity.
Crocodile leather products are considered to be commendable and luxurious. Reptile skin gives an item a one of a kind look. It has always been prestigious to own a crocodile or alligator wallet, which certainly affects the image of an owner. Bikerringshop guarantees that top-notch quality and durability of our products will make the purchase desirable and enjoyable.