101 on your leather

Leather. Most of us probably own something made out of this stuff, but how many of us really know all that much about it?

We might sniff and feel up the leather as if we had a doctorate in the material, but secretly, most of us just hope that we look savvy doing it and that the product price is a fair indication of quality. While this approach might work, another option might just be to read the rest of this and learn at least the basics…

So…leather is most commonly derived from animal rawhide and skin, and in general, you’ll see it sold in four forms: full grain, top grain, corrected grain and spilt. The hide undergoes a string of processes including prep work, tanning, crusting etc… in order to render it usable for end applications.

When you buy a product labeled as “made with genuine leather”, don’t get all excited at the “great price” you’re getting for it. You’re just getting the all time lowest quality of leather available out there. Genuine leather is normally not very durable and doesn’t look that great compared to the good stuff.

“Top grain” leather is what you get in “fine” leather goods and is actually your middle-of-the-road kind of quality. Made by splitting a piece of full grain leather and then sanding away imperfections in the hide, top grain leather actually has a fake grain stamped on it (how cheeky….) Although the leather finish, colour and stain resistance in top grain leather is very good, its durability is not great.

Finally, we come to the best stuff…”Full grain” leather takes the entire grain of hide including all its imperfections and inherent toughness, and is recognized as the highest grade of leather you can get. This is the type of leather where a rich patina develops on it over time and use, and you shouldn’t actually mind a “hand me down” in this category.

So now that you’ve had a quick 101 on leather, it’s time to re-evaluate your collection and see if you’d maybe like to add something new to it?

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