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Understanding Leather Weights – Ounces to Inches

In our corner of the fashion world, the weight of materials and fabrics get a lot of attention. You’ve probably got the concept of denim weights under your belt, but what about the weight of the actual belt you’re using to hold them up? Leather comes in many different weights, but knowing how to both identify and understand them may not be as straightforward as you think!

The Weighing System

To put it simply, the ‘weight’ of leather isn’t defined by how much it weighs. Unlike denim, which is weighed per square yard, a leather’s “weight” actually refers to its thickness. A general rule of thumb is that 1oz. = 1/64 of an inch in thickness, so the listed weight of a particular cut of leather rises in correlation with the lateral thickness of the cut. Due to the nature of animal hide, one single cut of leather can vary slightly throughout. This means that the weight of leather will often be presented in a range (e.g. 4-5 oz.).

 

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A chart showing leather hide parts, and conversions of thickness to weight measurements. Image via Tandy Leather.

This measurement is taken with a simple gauge tool, which has a tapered slot for the leather to be measured, giving an ounce measurement. Some companies will supply a measurement in millimeters, (a 2mm leather waist patch, for instance) but the ounce measurement remains the most commonly used.

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A Blacker River Laser leather gauge. Image via Black River Laser

When it comes to different varieties of leather, the method and intensity of the tanning process used to treat the hide will have an effect on the resulting piece of leather that goes into the production line. The main thing to keep in mind is that no two pieces of leather are the same, and just like denim or cotton, a heavyweight measurement doesn’t necessarily define quality.

Still, you can’t beat a nice thick leather waist patch on a pair of raw denim jeans, like Naked & Famous’s gut busting 12oz. (or 3/16″ thick) patch on their ultra-weight 32oz. pair of jeans.

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