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What Is Cognac Leather?

By Maggie Worth
Updated May 21, 2024
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The term "cognac leather" refers not to a specific type of leather, but rather to a color of leather. The color has been variously described as "brown with a hint of red" and "a warm caramel color." The name is derived from the color similarity between this leather and the alcoholic liquor called cognac, which is sometimes called brandy. This color of leather is popular in furniture, apparel, and accessories.

Cognac is a type of wine — specifically, a variety of brandy. The grapes are grown and the wine bottled in the Cognac region of France. It has a very distinct, warm brown color that is due to the wooden casks in which it is aged. Most cognacs are amber or brown, and may have just a hint of red.

Leather that has been dyed to the distinctive shade of cognac brandy is called cognac leather. While it could just as easily be called "amber" or "medium brown," designers often prefer to use color names that relate to items that involve the senses, such as food, drink, or flowers. This is why a leather in a warm, deep shade of brown is often called chocolate instead of dark brown. The term "cognac" has the added value of being associated with an item that many consider to be high-class or aspirational; using the word "cognac" to refer to the color of the leather is thought to cause the buyer to perceive the product as higher-end or more aspirational, by association.

Like the alcohol from which it is derived, cognac leather can vary greatly in hue. It can be light or deep, and may contain varying degrees of red in the base tone. While it can be used for an entire piece, this particular color is also often used as part of a two-tone scheme or may be used as an accent color on shoes, purses, and other accessories. Cognac is a pseudo-neutral, making it easy to pair with a wide variety of colors.

Leather is a popular material with which to make a variety of items, and cognac is a popular color. Cognac leather is often used for furniture, such as couches, ottomans, headboards and chairs. It can also be used to manufacture coats, boots, pants, and shoes for both men and women. Accessories such as wallets, purses, and belts, as well as business gifts such as portfolios, briefcases, and card cases, are also available in cognac leather.

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Discussion Comments
By snickerish — On Nov 15, 2011

I love cognac color! I think part of my love for it though is because of what I very fashionable friend of mine told me - cognac can make it through every season if worn right!

My friend likes to give me seasonal advice ever since she saw me try to use a velvet black clutch in the summer time. Apparently that is a no-no. And I must admit that ever since she has mentioned seasonality of items, I have not been able to look at colors of clothing and accessories the same since.

Two items I am looking forward to purchasing - a cognac purse to wear all year long and cognac knee high boots that I can wear with my summer dresses and then over my skinny jeans or tights in the winter.

By wavy58 — On Nov 14, 2011

@shell4life – I would say that you are right. Unless your jacket has some black elements on it like buttons or stitching, I wouldn't recommend wearing it with black clothing.

This is why when I was shopping for a cognac leather purse, I made sure to get one that had some black included in the design. In my opinion, cognac leather goes with just about every color but black, and I have several black things in my wardrobe, so I needed it to match.

The purse I bought has a geometric design. Some pieces are light cognac, some are deep red, some dark brown, and some totally black. This makes it complement pretty much anything I could possibly wear.

By shell4life — On Nov 14, 2011

My long winter jacket is made of cognac leather. I like this shade, because to me, it is slightly more feminine than darker leather.

The jacket comes down almost to my knees, which makes it perfect to wear over sweater dresses. Cognac leather complements the fall colors in my wardrobe. Mustard yellow, plum, orange, and all shades of brown look great when paired with it.

My boyfriend says that black and cognac leather go together. I say they clash. I would like some other people's opinions on this. Who is right?

By lighth0se33 — On Nov 13, 2011

I understand how using sense-related descriptions can make a product more appealing. I have a friend who owns a shoe store, and all of the colors are described in this way.

She has blueberry suede, lemon canvas, and cognac leather shoes for sale. These are just a few of her creative takes on colors.

In my opinion, a description like “cognac leather” stirs up the taste buds, and you suddenly find yourself drawn to it. I have special memories of drinking cognac with my husband on our first date, so whenever I see cognac leather, it takes me back.

By Oceana — On Nov 13, 2011

I love a variety of intensities of cognac leather. I recently went shopping for some boots in this shade, and I wasn't too picky about whether they were light or dark cognac.

I knew that I wanted some with buckles and straps across them, but my main requirement was that they be comfortable. I have seen tons of cognac boots in stores lately, but the majority of them have heels so high that it is awkward to even stand still in them.

I was delighted when I found a pair of medium cognac boots with only a slight heel. They had decorative leather straps, a buckle on the side, and a slouched top. I tried them on and walked down the aisle of the store, and I was amazed to find that they were actually comfortable.

By Mae82 — On Nov 12, 2011

@Sara007 - I am not sure whether you could say there is one true cognac color that stands out among the rest, I really think it is a matter of personal taste as to whether you want something more red or something caramel.

I have a gorgeous cognac leather jacket for women that my friends are always trying to borrow. With a matching leather tote and cognac leather boots it makes for quite a show stopping outfit.

For myself I ended up going with a cognac leather that was more brown, as I felt it was more versatile than the red. But like I said, it's all personal choice.

By tigers88 — On Nov 12, 2011

Cognac leather is one of my very favorite looks. I like leather in general, but a lot of the leather items I have are in cognac. I have a leather handbag and a cognac leather belt that match perfectly. I also have boots and a cognac leather jacket that look great together.

I always buy leather from a little store downtown. They have things that no one else has and they can also import things from Italy and France. You pay a premium price but it is worth it for the selection.

By Sara007 — On Nov 11, 2011

What color is cognac leather, if you want a really easily identifiable piece?

I have been looking at a variety of leather handbags and want to choose the one that has the richest color, but I am not sure which one to pick. One I like has a really deep red base, while the others are much more amber.

If I can find a shade that I would consider true cognac leather, I would buy the leather wallet to match. I can be a bit of a fashionista at times, so I want to make sure whatever I have matches and look sharp.

By gravois — On Nov 11, 2011

I have a cognac leather couch in my den. Admittedly, the den has an interior design that is pretty masculine. There is wood paneling, a deer head on the wall and lot of big furniture. The couch is the centerpiece. It is huge and incredibly comfortable and right next to the fireplace. I love it. I didn't know it was possible to love a piece of furniture but I love this one.

I got it from a furniture store in San Francisco. It was more money than I wanted to spend, especially after I had it shipped to Montana. But I just had to have it. Its comfortable, beautiful and the cognac color blends with everything else perfectly.

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