All skins utilized by Alligators International are harvested legally and in accordance with all state, federal, and international wildlife regulations. We never buy, sell, or promote the unlawful harvest or purchase or sale of any alligator or their products. 

Dyeing and Finishing Facility

Our new 10,500 square foot dyeing and finishing facility constructed in 2020 utilizes the best practices available on the market. It is a true zero-discharge facility where all water is retained on site utilizing several processes for the water to be recycled back into the system.

Wooden Barrel
Thinning Machine
Dye Drum

Before a hide goes through the dyeing and finishing process, it must go through a process of “crusting” this is where the skin fibers are cleared of all existing pigments, they come out of the process as a “crust”, a completely white skin that is ready to accept the color dyes that we want to put into the skin before finishing.

Wet Dye Example
Wet Dye Example 2

This stage is what is known as the skin being “in the blue,” which is in the crusting process.

The skins above are in the process of being crusted, you can see that most of the pigment is out of them, but they are not completely white yet.

After they are completely tanned, they are considered “Crusts.” These skins are void of natural tannins and organic compounds, so they will not putrefy if they get wet, and they are prepared able to accept dyes and oils. Each Crust is individually measured and graded to ensure that each skin will be used for a project according to its quality and size.

Read more about how we Measure and Grade our skins here: Grading and Measuring

Crust Shelf 2
Crust Shelf

The skins shown above are measured, graded, and in the system as inventory crusts, from which we hand-select crusts to dye for products

Tanning and dyeing process

After the crust is done, a skin goes through the dying process, where it is weighed, the amount of dye needed is calculated, and the skin is put in big dye drums and tumbled. The dye and different chemicals are added to help the fibers of the skin to accept the dye until it is ready to be taken out of the drum

The skins are then taken out of the drum and moved to the toggling racks, then the skins are toggled down on racks to dry without allowing them to shrink. The toggling rack does not stretch them, but rather, keep them the size expected to make products. This also helps the dye dry evenly.

Blue Vertical skins

After toggling and drying the skins, they are treated on a case-by-case basis depending on the thickness, softness, and color outcome. Adjustments are made if necessary and the skins are moved in the preliminary stages of finishing.


Finishing the hides consists of waxing and applying different kinds of finish depending on what is needed for a given product. Finishes can vary from Matte to Gloss, with different levels in between. The result is always beautiful alligator skin ready to be made into a beautiful product for our consumers!

Everyone has their preferences as far as finishes for products, but certain products are better with different finishes:

Classic/ Glazed, Millennium, Desert/ Matte, Garment, Nubuck/Suede, Bombay

A Classic/ Glazed finish is a very bright, shiny finish that is beautifully rendered after high compression of the leather under what is usually used: a piece of Agate stone attached to a compression machine. This coating is beautiful, but delicate and does not bend well, since any bending can cause wrinkles in the glaze that can be impossible to fix. This finish is often used for leather goods that do not go through much wear and tear.

A Millenium finish is similar to the Classic/ Glazed finish but is a little less shiny and a bit more durable. We use it for a lot of our products such as handbags, purses, duffel bags, and golf bags.

A Desert/ Matte finish is very popular, it is less shiny than the other finishes, but retains the pattern of the skin very nicely, and is able to be bent and stretched without as much damage being done to the hide. This finish is used for more frequently worn products that go through wear and tear, and are less likely to get terribly damaged. It is a soft finish that holds the character of the skin very well, while also being able to be used in everyday products. Any scratches on this finish can be easier to repair than on a classic finish.

A Garment finish is good for what it is named for: garments. This finish is used for items of clothing such as jackets, shirts, slacks, and skirts, made to easily be kept up for ongoing fashion statements.

Nubuck/ Suede finish is the softest finish, and is made to keep the original look of the scale and plate patterns of the hide while providing a nice soft feel.

Bombay is the most difficult finish to accomplish since the process involves heating the skin gently, causing the plates to puff up in the centers, creating a bubbly, puffy look on the skin. This finish is very difficult to achieve, but the result is a beautiful, unique look to any product it is used for.

Embossed Leather VS. Genuine American Alligator Products.

Embossed leather is leather that has been stamped using heat and high pressure to create a pattern or design in the hide. The variety is tremendous ranging from alligator, crocodile, ostrich, flowers, geometric and Indian designs, to name just a few. Websites that talk about alligator products and the leather but describe their products as “GENUINE Alligator LEATHER”. These are embossed cow leather in alligator patterns.

Don’t buy the fake stuff. Other companies sell “Embossed leather” which is an “alligator” pattern stamped into cow leather and cut into shapes for products, but our products are responsibly harvested, Genuine Alligator skin! 

Different Cuts

There are two basic cuts of skin from the alligator that are used for products: the belly skin and the Hornback:

Alligator belly

Belly Crust Skin

hornback Crust

Hornback Skin

The Belly skin is exactly what it sounds like: the skin from the belly side of the alligator. It is used in most items like handbags, purses, wallets, and is very common in women’s products. It is a beautiful part of the skin that is smooth, but still has the texture of the plates.

The Hornback is the back of the alligator, their back is lined with boney protrusions called “horns”. On smaller alligators, these horns can be useful on men’s products since they are smaller and more manageable, but if the horns are too big from larger alligators, then they can be uncomfortable and are not used on wallets or money clips to be carried in the pocket. Hornback hides can be used for bigger products like briefcases, belts, boots, and gun slings