Leather accessories are evergreen favourites. However, the sheer variety throws the best of us into throes of confusion.
While there may be as many types of leather as there are tanneries in the world, they may be broadly categorized into 5 grades.
Split grain leather
1. Full grain leather is the complete outer layer of the hide intact. The grain has densely packed, fine fibres that results in a strong, durable surface.
It is considered to be one of the highest quality leather and even has some water resistant qualities. This type of leather is used for shoes, saddles and other goods that are meant for rough and tough environments.
2. Top grain leather is a softer, more pliable and flexible type of leather. When the hide is processed, it is split into two parts, and the top layer is then sanded and/or buffed to remove imperfections.
While the process of sanding makes it more visually appealing, it also takes away some of the strength of the leather. This type of leather is often used for bags, wallets, and other high-end leather goods.
3. Split grain leather is the remaining by-product of hide splitting. It doesn't have any of the grain and is extremely soft. Perhaps the most common type of split grain leather is suede.
4. Genuine leather, also known as corrected leather, can come from any layer of the hide. It may be highly processed, dyed and embossed/stamped to give the final appearance.
5 Bonded leather or reconstituted leather is the leftovers of the leather world. The leather scraps and shreds are bonded together using latex, vinyl, glue and/or plastic. The amount of actual leather in the mix can vary from 10% to 90%. This accordingly affects the functionality and aesthetics of the final product.
Each of these grades of leather is suitable for a range of needs. Yet, most leather aficionados prefer to don full grain or top grain leather. Which one do you prefer?