Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Ecology

Document Type



Exotic skins and leathers have enjoyed a recent resurgence, as current fashion magazines illustrate. Louisiana would like to increase its niche in the exotic skins market by increasing alligator, ostrich and emu skin usage, mainly by inspiring designers to incorporate them into their repertoire. The possibilities are endless from apparel and trim to upholstery and other home furnishings to accessories; Louisiana exotic skins have significant market potential. In order to assist in these traditional textile applications, characterization of the various skin properties needs to be completed. The research was carried out in three stages. For the preliminary research, one emu skin was thoroughly tested by standard and modified methods to characterize the physical properties of the skins. In the second phase, testing techniques determined effective for emu skin were used to measure properties of alligator skins. As a result, a database of physical properties was created that permitted comparisons of the exotic skins to their more traditional leather counterparts. The final stage of the research was to test ostrich and traditional leathers by the established methods and perform statistical comparisons of the skins, to compare exotic to traditional leather. There were very few significant differences between the exotic and traditional leathers. Finish had an impact on the performance of the skins. Garment finished skins were more extensible than skins with classic finishes, had a softer hand and less stiffness. Deer, pig and cowhide had higher tensile extensilbilities than the alligator skins, which were stiffer. In colorfastness testing, alligator and ostrich samples were similar to cowhide, goat and buffalo, and superior to suede, deer, lamb and pig in staining fibers with which the skin was in contact during dry-cleaning. Based on their similar physical properties, the exotic skins can successfully be substituted for their more traditional counterparts. If destruction of a hide is not an option, preliminary research indicates that NIR can predict Young’s modulus as measured by the tensile test, which can be correlated to other physical properties.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Billie J. Collier



Included in

Human Ecology Commons