Leather is one of the most-known materials having a large variety of areas of usage. Scientific studies show that the leather gradually transforms into a more fiber structure to ensure that animals are more protected against severe environmental conditions. This evolution has given the leather a landlord endurance, which makes it an ideal raw material of leather products.
Leather is made by tanning the skins or hides of almost any animal, even though cowhide is the most commonly used one.
For quality leather materials, the raw material of leather must also be of high quality. If, for example, hides of the cows that are kept in a wire fenced ranch or branded would not yield good quality leather. Similarly, the hides obtained from the ones that have been exposed to a large number of insect bites would not result in high-quality leather either. Besides, how the animals are fed is also a determining factor for obtaining quality leather materials. Feeding cows with a diet containing either growth hormones or grains can yield a low-quality raw material of leather.
Types of Leather
Although it is possible to categorize leather in different ways, we’ll discuss the classification of leather in terms of quality and grain structure in this blog.
There are four main leather types: full-grain leather, top-grain leather, split-grain leather (corrected leather), and bonded leather (reconstituted leather) in descending orders of quality.
1. Full-Grain Leather
Coming from the top layer of the hide, the full-grain leather has all sorts of natural grain, which makes it the most preferred raw material of leather goods. Characterized by its luxurious and smooth surface, the full-grain leather has either a few flaws or none.
Quality leather materials are usually made of full-grain leather, which generally does not require any preliminary processing. Instead of wearing out over time, the full-grain leather develops a patina (the change in its surface color), which gives the leather an aesthetic look. Moreover, its water-repellent feature makes it to be the raw material of leather furniture, footwear, and other leather goods that require premium quality material, such as leather phone cases, leather tablet cases, leather bags or wallets. The only flaw we can say the full-grain leather has is its high price. But, the quality seekers are ok with that most of the time.
2. Top-Grain Leather
It’s the second-highest grade of all leather types and is considered as the raw material of leather goods that also requires good quality. The top grain leather is subjected to processes such as sanding and/or buffing to remove imperfections or irregularity, which makes it softer. Besides, it has high stain resistance and low production cost, which makes the top grain leather to be the most preferred raw material of leather by the manufactures of quality leather materials. It is mostly used in the manufacturing of high-end leather goods such as leather purses, handbags, wallets, slippers, or even shoes.
3. Split Leather (Corrected Leather)
The lower part of the top grain leather area is called split or corrected leather. The layered cut of leather below the full grain and the best top grain is also called split leather. Split leather, which does not have a dense or smooth surface as full-grain or top-grain leather, is considered the lowest quality among real leather types. It is subjected to sanding or batting processes to remove the surface imperfections or irregularities followed by polymer coating to mimic the full-grain leather. Of course, the resulting material is not as strong or durable as the full-grain leather. Yet, the split leather still finds many applications, given its low price and high availability. It’s used as the raw material of leather products that do not require premium quality.
4. Bonded Leather
Being made of just fine shredded leather scraps, the bonded leather is not considered real leather. Depending on their leather contents, there are different types of bonded leather of various qualities. They might be the raw material of leather goods, which also do not demand high quality. Low-end furniture, bookbinding, and some cheap leather accessories are among the leather goods made of bonded leather.
Where Does Leather Come From?
Over 99% of all leathers in the world come from four different sources:
• 65% cattle hides
• 15% sheep hides
• 11% pigs hides
• 9% goats hides
Although they have a very low percentage, leather made of some exotic animals such as snakes or alligators finds applications. They are used as the raw material of leather products such as fancy handbags or footwear. Leather made of cowhide is the strongest and the densest leather. Thus, it is the ideal choice for winter clothing. The leather made of sheep hide can also be used in clothing. They also find applications as the raw material of leather slippers or rugs thanks to their fleece. Creating much denser leather, pig hides are mostly preferred as the raw material of leather goods such as gloves, shoes, or sportswear. Leather made of goat hide is very thin, therefore soft and malleable. So, they are used as the raw material of leather goods such as soft leather gloves or handbags.
5 Signals of Good Quality Leather
Today, much faux leather, which imitates real leather very successfully, appears on the shelves. As we discussed how to differentiate the real leather vs faux leather in another article (please see the post titled “The Right Choice in Leather Product Preference. Genuine Leather”), in detail, we’ll briefly give you some useful tips to identify the real high-quality leather.
• Look for the tag of the “full-grain leather”.
• Smell the product; the quality leather always smells like leather, not like chemicals or plastic.
• Check the edging of leather; If the leather is not sufficiently tanned, you will see the bluish color. And some manufacturers paint the leather to hide this. A good sign of low quality.
• Check the craftsmanship and the quality of other materials used in the product: good quality leather always comes with good quality stitches and hardware.
• Look for imperfections, as only faux leather can be made free of irregularities.
• Check the price: you can not buy the quality for a cheap price.
Can Non-Genuine Leather be of Good Quality?
The term "genuine leather" is often misused. It does not say anything about the quality of leather. It only means that the product in question is made of real leather. Well, is it possible to make quality products with them?
When non-genuine leather is used as the raw material of leather, the resulting product cannot replace the ones made of real leather in terms of either durability or aesthetics. They are made by chemical processes involving many undesired chemicals in their production. No matter how hard it’s tried, it is not possible to remove the chemical smell completely from artificial leather. Thus, if you want to purchase quality leather materials, you should stay away from the products that do not use natural real leather as the raw material of leather.
Naturalness should be the first feature you should look for in your leather goods selection.
You can read our previous post on https://www.venito.com/blogs/blog/best-ways-to-clean-leather-wallet-case