At Billy Tannery, we're known for our high quality goatskin leather goods. But as we expand our range and our business, we are so excited to have branched into deerskin products. It's a natural next step in our quest for sustainable and premium leather goods. 

Deer numbers in the UK have spiralled in recent years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the lack of demand for venison in restaurants, and the natural reproduction of the deer population has resulted in the need for deer culling. That means there's a surplus of hides that would otherwise be thrown into landfill. We use these hides to prevent waste, just like the goatskins we use in our core range of products. 

Sustainability is at our core, and the leather we use is a by-product of other industries - namely food. So, when you buy from us, you can be sure that whatever product you chose, you're making an eco-friendly choice. 

As deer leather is a newer offering at Billy Tannery, we're often asked how it compares to other leathers on the market. Goat leather is the other material option we currently use, and we look at that in more detail in our goat leather guide. Deerskin is a relatively rare material, so here we’ll compare it alongside cow leather, which is most commonly seen in the leather industry.  

Arguably, cowhide is the most popular leather. It's often what comes to mind when people think of leather goods. So, let's break down some of the key differences and similarities between cowhide and deerskin. 

Leather Goods Made Great Billy Tannery

Deerskin vs cowhide


This can vary massively depending on where you get your leather from. Any full grain leather is a higher quality of leather than, say, bonded leather (you can find out more about types of leather in our handy guide). 

In the leather industry, cowhide is typically an economical choice, partly due to the animal size - a larger animal results in a larger hide. It's also a cheaper material, which is readily available around the world. At Billy Tannery we use traceable goatskin and deerskin leathers which are sourced, designed, and crafted right here in the UK. Our ethical tanning process is created with the environment in mind. 


Generally speaking, cowhide is the most durable leather. Its toughness makes it an obvious choice for motorcycle leathers, straps, and handles. It's tough, hardwearing and economical. 

However, deerskin offers a softer, more tactile feel. It has a luxury, high-end finish, but it's still surprisingly durable and long lasting - especially considering the high level of softness and comfort. This makes deer leather perfect for supple items such as shoes, jackets and bags. You can be confident that a quality deerskin product will last a long time (with proper care). 


Deerskin is lighter and thinner than cow leather, but it is long lasting. Like goatskin, it's surprisingly durable given its supple thinness.

Cowhide is thicker, and stiffer with very little stretch. Although it will soften over time and with use, it will never match the softness of deerskin. 


Deerskin is a good deal softer than cowhide, offering incredible comfort and softness. It's a breathable, supple fabric, with a little stretch to it. In comparison, cow leather feels inflexible, and a little tough. 


Any full grain leather is a premium choice to create a high end product. Full grain leather shows the natural characteristics of the leather. You will typically see little imperfections that show the authentic nature of the product. It results in unique leather accessories with real character. 

Full grain cowhide offers a rougher, grained appearance. Deerskin is softer, smoother and looks more luxurious. The softness and stretch means it doesn't really need 'breaking in', so it's an especially great choice for footwear. It takes a little looking after, but the softness and durability means it's worth it!

Sustainable leather goods  

All the leather used at Billy Tannery is treated using vegetable tanning. It's time consuming and more expensive. But, we believe that you get out what you put in. That's why we only create vegetable tanned leather; it’s an ethical, environmentally-conscious choice, as opposed to the more harmful chrome tanning. 

A New Approach to Leather Billy Tannery

Whenever you buy from us, you can be sure you are choosing a quality product with the environment in mind. In an era where we are all being called to make conscious choices about our consumption, we are dedicated to making products that not only last, but improve with age. Make your Billy Tannery purchase your new companion. Check out our range of deer leather products here and learn how our two leathers compare in our guide to deer vs goat leather.


Cathie said:

I agree. I used to tan deer leather when I was younger. I tanned it the south American way with yellow soap, neatsfoot oil and Quebracho. It was a wonderful leather to work with. It held up unlike the commercially tanned deerskin of that time. Which tares easily.

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