Leather products, be it belts, wallets, shoes or bags, will always remain classic. Not just for their refined appeal, but also for their versatility and longevity. But leather comes in a variety of colors and textures, and we understand that it’s tough for the untrained eye to tell the difference.
That’s why we’re stepping in with some basic lessons on how to choose great quality leather, every single time.
#1: Full Grain = Fully Qualified
Leather ‘grain’ refers to the layer of hide that it is made from. There are 4 basic grains, in decreasing order of quality: Full grain>Top grain>Corrected Leather>Split Leather.
Why choose full grain leather, you ask?
It’s simple. Full grain leather is the top most layer of hide, and is undoubtedly the most durable. This layer is left untreated, to show off the natural markings of the hide in all its glory. Each product made from full-grain leather is unique and full of character, as no two hides can carry the same environmental marks. Full grain ages beautifully, developing a patina over time, rather than wearing out.
Top grain leather, on the other hand, is sanded and buffed to create an even surface. The top coat gives the leather a plasticy feel, and although it is less expensive, it lacks character.
Watch out for corrected or split leather (commonly referred to as 'genuine leather') : they are usually mixed with synthetic materials to create the final product. If you’re looking for great style and durability, you’ve gotta steer clear of these.
#2: Au Naturel: Vegetable Tanning
Tanning is the most crucial part of the leather process, where the hide is transformed into actual leather. Now, you can either do this by applying harmful chemicals like chromium or formaldehyde, or go the natural route with vegetable dyes.
Here are just some of the advantages of vegetable tanned leather:
- Natural, organic look and feel
- Classic leather smell
- A safer, chemical-free alternative
- Develops unique character with age