A Complete Guide to Glove Materials

When it comes to glove palm materials, there are some great options to consider depending on the type of glove and its intended use. Most gloves use either synthetic leather or natural leather in their construction.

Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather is made with manufactured fibers (usually polyester or nylon) and offered as suede or coated material. Synthetic leather provides a slew of benefits over other glove materials:

  • Engineered and modified to meet the specific needs of gloves:
    • Higher durability, grip, touchscreen conductivity, dexterity, thickness, and stretch. 
  • Consistency in performance:
    • Shipped in rolls with the same quality in every roll and production batch. 
  • Stable pricing, supply chain, and efficiencies in glove manufacturing:
    • This leads to lower cutting loss, which is ideal for automated cutting.
  • Animal-free, vegan 
  • Reduced environmental impact when compared to most natural leather:
    • Lower carbon emissions
    • Lower water usage
    • Reduced eutrophication (water run-off) 
    • Fewer chemicals used in manufacturing
    • Increased durability for long-term use 
  • Sustainable fibers and production:
    • Recycled fibers:
      • The most common recycled fibers are post-consumer recycled polyester made from discarded water bottles and post-industrial recycled nylon using waste from the material manufacturing process. 
      • AX® Materials is the leading supplier of both types of recycled materials for gloves and have built a range of recycled performance materials with the same durability as the non-recycled versions. 
      • All recycled materials are Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) Certified.
    • PFAS/PFOS-free water-resistant chemistry:
      • This meets all international regulations for ‘carbon-free’ (C0) treatments. 
    • Water-based manufacturing:
      • Removes solvent-based chemicals from the process, producing better materials for workers and the environment. 
AX® Suede ReNovoSplit
Proven Leather Alternative

Looking Closer at Polyester vs. Nylon Synthetic Leather Options:


  • Most polyester knits are made with continuous filament fibers resulting in a softer and more robust material that will not shed surface fibers with excessive rubbing and wear. 
  • Some notable benefits include the following:
    • High dexterity
    • Soft and pliable
    • Improved fit
    • No pilling/shedding
    • High abrasion 
    • Stretch 
    • Can be made in bright/vivid colors 
AX® Laredo
Polyester Synthetic

Nylon Synthetic:

  • Nylon synthetic materials are often non-woven construction, using short stable fibers. 
  • Some of these benefits are:
    • Strong tear properties
    • Low and even elongation: limited stretch suitable for more intense handle-bar gloves like motocross
    • Similar softness and density to natural leather

Both polyester and nylon bases can be coated with Polyurethane to provide a ‘grain’ surface for increased durability and protection from the elements. 

Types of coating processes are: 

  • Dry-coating Polyurethane and applying a Release Paper (texture) on the surface.
    • It can be used on both Polyester and Nylon. 
    • It is most cost-effective but limits surface breathability and surface texture depth. 
  • Wet-coating Polyurethane with an Emboss Roller.
    • It provides a deeper 3-D texture that can increase grip and gives the material a foam-like feel and cushion. 
    • Currently more common for Nylon materials in the glove market.  
  • Some materials may have a Silicon coating which offers increased grip and is often used in football receiver gloves. 
  • Material suppliers may customize coatings to achieve desired aesthetics or performance with other surface processes like foil patterns and printing. 
AX® Suede ReNovoBuck Grey
Recycled Nylon Synthetic

Natural Leather:

Natural leather can be made from animals such as cows, goats, pigs, sheep, and deer. The glove market primarily uses cow, goat, and pig leather.

  • The type of leather used in gloves depends on where the glove is made. Goat is the leading grain leather option for gloves made in Indonesia, India, and Pakistan, while cows and pigs are used in China and Vietnam glove manufacturing. 
  • The outside of natural leather is a grain finish, and the aesthetic will vary based on the type of animal and its prior living conditions. 
  • Cow and pig leathers are more versatile and can be split into layers, creating ‘split suede’ from the inner layer. 
  • The price of natural leather can vary based on the animal type and the hide quality. 
  • While natural leather can provide some properties ideal for gloves (puncture resistance and inherent heat resistance), the inconsistency of leather is a severe challenge for most glove brands. One animal hide may have very different performance properties than the hide next to it. 
  • There are lower cutting yields in natural leather, which results in higher loss and an increased price.
  • Natural leather has an unstable supply chain due to animal hide supply and pricing. 
  • There is a higher environmental impact depending on the type of leather used. The tanning process also requires significant amounts of chemicals and water. 

What is the Best Glove Material?

Synthetic Leather

  • Synthetic leather, specifically engineered polyester knits, are the best glove materials overall. This type of material can be built to the exact need of the glove. 
  • Polyester is known as the ‘workhorse’ of fibers – working harder and lasting longer while being more breathable and flexible than natural suedes and leathers. The results? Strong, thin, and comfortable glove materials. 
  • Durability, specifically abrasion resistance, is a critical part of most gloves. When polyester knits with continuous filament fiber construction are combined with specialty high-density yarns, it creates the optimal balance of strength, softness, and dexterity. 
  • Knit polyester construction with minimal Polyurethane content allows for greater breathability than leather and other glove materials. This allows heat and sweat to escape the glove palm easily and provides excellent wicking for a dry grip, minimizing palm sweat leading to discomfort. 

Built to outperform all other materials, the high abrasion options by AX® Materials are proven to get the job done, no matter the conditions. 

AX® Suede Cinco RPET + Dot Silicon Print

Where to Buy Glove Materials?

  • For best-in-class synthetic leather, AX® Materials is the leading choice for glove brands. With over 60 engineered materials built for gloves, AX® Materials is constantly developing new material solutions for customers and pioneering sustainable performance technology.  
  • Check out our latest catalog to view our materials up close and in person.
  • Contact or visit to learn more. 

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More Resources

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