Sheepskin Story

sheepskin history

Sheepskin Story

Sheepskin has been a reliable companion since ancient times. It was often preferred in colder climates due to its thick form and waterproof properties. Used for slippers, hats, coats, bags, rugs, furniture and in many other items in the modern day, sheepskin has an interesting story of many are unaware of. 

The long and impressive story of sheepskin awaits to take you on a captivating journey with Erdogan Deri.

What is Sheepskin?

Sheepskin also referred to as lambskin, is a natural material that has been around for a while and it aided humans to get protected from harsh weather conditions. Thanks to its durable and flexible form, sheepskin materials have been a perfect alternative for everyday use. Sheepskin can easily be recognized through its fleece on one side and leather-based property on the flipped side. But how is it made?

Tannery is at the heart of the process which makes a good sheepskin a perfect one. Sheepskin is a type of leather produced from the hide of a sheep therefore it needs to be processed accordingly to prevent it from being destroyed in time. This process is called tannery and it can simply be categorized into three different techniques; chrome tanning, synthetic tanning, and vegetable tanning for a more eco-tanned sheepskin process that is also environment friendly.

Sheepskin History

As Erdogan Deri, we are quite passionate about sheepskin and its history. Sheepskin, which was obtained from a shearling or shearling sheep that just stopped weaning and was ready for first shearing, had first been worn around 500 B.C. The first appearance of this sheepskin wear, therefore, was found on a mummy called Subashi who was wearing handmade sheepskin boots.

Interestingly, sheep were among the first animals that were domesticated almost 12,000 years ago. This made them a source of food, milk, and eventually wool. Once they were domesticated and had taken a more prominent role in human life, more sheep needed to be raised for trading purposes which would encourage the usage of sheepskin clothing and items even more so.


Sheep shearers, Flanders, from the Grimani Breviary c. 1510

Eventually, many sheepskin clothing items were observed to be utilized over the centuries by travelers and explorers as a result of the trade. A 19th-century traveler William Knight for example observed Tibetan people wearing sheepskin. Due to its insulation and water-repellent properties, sheepskin, therefore, had embarked on a journey starting from 500 B.C to this very day where well-known brands such as UGG use shearling sheepskin and shearling fur in their various products that are loved around the world.

What is Tannery?

The leather tannery process is one of the oldest techniques that is known to men. Regardless of the material, whether it is a handmade sheepskin tannery or fur tannery, the main objective of the tanning process is to preserve the animal skin in the best way possible. This technique is known to man for centuries and the earliest findings show that it started to be used around the Stone age.

Tanner, sheepskin tanning, sheepskin, tannery
Tanner, Nuremberg/Germany, 1609

Tanning is used to treat animal skin to make it more durable against any harmful chemicals or bacteria by changing the protein structure of the animal skin. The process effectively converts leather into a more robust and resistant form and the tanning process also allows for an easy coloring treatment. 


There are different ways to make animal skin more durable and preserve its properties. As previously mentioned briefly, these main tanning techniques are chrome tanning, vegetable tanning, and synthetic tanning. Chrome tanning is a quicker technique and can be easily automated. With chrome tanning, great results can be achieved as quickly as a day. Chrome-tanned products are therefore cheaper and more abundant in comparison to vegetable-tanned leather products. For a more environmentally friendly tanning process, vegetable tanning is a perfect choice and surprisingly it is one of the oldest tanning methods that has ever been known in the history of civilization. However, it can take one or two months to produce leather with the vegetable tanning technique which naturally makes it more expensive than chrome-tanned products due to these products’ costly tannery prices. Synthetic tanning on the other hand is a chrome-free substitute for chrome tanning where none of the ingredients have a correspondence in nature but are performed with artificial components.

Because of the complexity and high maintenance nature of the process itself, nowadays many prefer their hides tanned at a commercial tannery as it is more convenient and time-saving. However, due to the backlog of jobs those tanneries have, quality often might be overlooked. Many who are still passionate about tannery also love tanning their hides themselves for a more customized and high-quality end result.

What is Shearling?

Shearling term is used for young sheep that just stopped weaning off and are ready for their first shearing. It is also a term often used interchangeably with sheepskin however, there is a slight nuance between the two. Sheepskin and original shearling are both fur leather however, shearling lambs’ hides tend to be softer, and finer than the sheep. Shearling is also referred to as the process of tanning a shearling leather of a young lamb with the wool intact. 

This style is called double face sheepskin and it is in fact quite a popular one where animal’s wool is left for dying, shaping to provide a more aesthetic appearance with a chic touch of lining fur look. Dyed sheepskin is also another trendy option to revamp any internal living space with its unbeatable cozy style. The original aesthetic of soft natural white sheepskin rugs however still guarantees to make a statement anywhere they are presented.

Regardless of how chic a sheepskin coat or hat might look on you, it is also perfectly understandable if you have ethical and environmental concerns about it. Fortunately, there is a solution! You can still enjoy sheepskin clothing and accessories via organic breed sheepskin that is maintained organically from the animals that have gone to the food chain.

Sheepskin Rug

Sheepskin rug has been a stylish choice many pick regardless of which style they go for. Behind their fluffy and eye-catching appearance, sheepskin rugs are great healthy alternatives for homes as they are resistant to mold, and dust and quite unattractive to bugs. They help reduce the pollution and bacteria in your living space. So why not add a chic and equally healthy item such as a pet sheepskin rug to your living room or bedroom to turn it into a catalog?

Mentioning rugs, colorful lambskin rug is also among these countless luxurious items that can transform your living space right away. You can catch that matching style of your living room with a fancy rug in the bathroom adding a sheepskin towel, drying cloth, or sheepskin slipper for your comfort.

Talking about luxury and making a statement, it would be wrong not to mention the ultimate sign of luxury when it comes to sheepskin in the world, Toscana shearling. This bread produces fine and long wool which gives a similar sensation of fur in comparison to more coarse sheepskin products such pet sheepskin rug. It does not irritate your skin and thanks to its amazingly soft wool, it does not even require a lining to be used unlike sheepskin boots and sheepskin jacket which can irritate you depending on your comfort level. It is one of those items you can own for a lifetime and would never want to take off or leave behind once you know the difference it makes in your life.


Here at Erdogan Deri, among the leaders in the sheepskin market, we work with our handpicked experts to provide the ultimate quality of tanning in compliance with eco-friendly European standards. Our wide array of product list ranges from chic hats, footwear, and garments, to many other items that await for you to explore. Start your sheepskin journey now with Erdogan Deri for a luxurious and high-quality experience.

FAQ

Is shearling sheepskin?

Shearling and sheepskin are often used interchangeably and they refer to the natural hides and wool of sheep.

Is sheepskin waterproof?

Sheepskin is a great waterproof material for those who want to get protected from rain.

What is sheepskin leather?

Sheepskin sometimes can also be referred to as lambskin, is the hide of a sheep.

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