Picking the Right Leather

Have you been buying leather bags repeatedly but are not impressed with your product? You may be buying the wrong kind of leather. The art of leather making has been around for over 7000 years (read: History of leather). Over the last century, with the proliferated use of leather in automobiles, furniture, clothing and accessories more types of leather and marketing terms have come about. Knowing the difference between the types of leathers can be the determining factor between a product that deteriorates quickly, like our first couch (see below…ouch) versus a product that lasts years. Leather materials are highly popular due to their aesthetic look and durability. The process of turning a raw hide into leather than is used to make a stunning weekender can take 10 days or more end to end! Due to the complex nature of the process and steps involved, many types of byproducts and grades of leathers can be created as a result. A cow, as you may have seen is a pretty big animal with a lot of skin. The skin is made up of several layers, the layers are split or thinned through the leather making process. The two major layers are grain and corium.  The collagen fibers in the grain (outer layer) are more tightly bound giving it a thick and durable quality. While in the corium (inner layer) collagen fibres are thinner and more loosely bound and not as durable. 

Today, we would like to talk about the 4 major types of leathers: 

  • Full Grain: The king of all leathers. This is the best quality leather you can find in the market. Full Grain is the top layer of the hide and has collagen fibers that are tightly bound together. Full grain leather is thick and smooth. This is the most desired leather due to its long-lasting durability. 

    Our entire range of Navie backpacks, weekenders, laptop bags, travel kits are made of full grain leather. We know how much use our daily wear companions take, and it only makes sense to use the best leather for them. 

  • Top Grain: Top grain leather is the second best in quality. The main difference is that the grain is sanded down to give it a smooth texture. It also makes the leather more workable, making it a very common material to use in handbags and shoes. 

  • Suede: Suede is the underside of the dermis. This is created once the top grain layer is taken away, leaving behind what is called the drop split. Suede, however, can absorb water very quickly which can make it prone to damage. If you like the look of Suede but want something more resilient, we recommend going for Nubuck leather. Nubuck leather has a similar appearance to that of Suede, the difference is that Nubuck is made of top-grade leather that is sanded down to give it Suede like texture. 

  • Genuine or bonded leather: The name may sound honest, but when we read genuine, we read ‘barely leather’. Genuine or bonded leather is made of layers of the low-quality leather bound together by glue. Bonded leather can have as little as 17% real leather to be given this name. If you are looking to purchase a product of everyday use, we highly recommend staying away from genuine leather. Meet our first couch – during the first year, and then during the following year of use. This was bonded leather, but it had none of the James Bond qualities we were hoping for. 

Let us know about your experience with leather and leave us a note if you found this article useful. 

Content Sources:

  • Britannica, Octane Seating, Liberty

1 comment

I have to say this article was enlightening. Even the picture under the genuine or bonded leather looked familiar. We purchased 7 recliners almost 6 years ago from what we thought was a reputable company. During the 4th year our son’s chair started peeling and before the 5th year was complete the seat no longer resembled a seat. We had a “goof proof” policy on all our chairs so I called and then, at their request, sent a picture. The response I received is that “wear and tear” is not covered. So much for a warranty on the chairs. Now, we have another chair that is falling apart and a third, just beginning. We are looking at a company whose recliners state are top grain and for extra $ you can get italian luxe leather, which appears to be full grain leather. Since I didn’t ask about the type of leather the first time, I decided to see what I could find out about different leathers. I clicked on your website and now know the difference in leathers. Obviously, ours was the bonded leather. At this point it may be in our best interest to put out the money for good, high quality leather that could possibly last longer than 4 years before falling apart. I certainly feel bad about dragging my husband to a store and convincing him to buy everyone a leather recliner which now have to be replaced. Thank you for your article, Picking the Right Leather, and I have bookmarked the page for future reference.

Patty Curatola June 15, 2022

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