Go Beyond Genuine Leather
When buying premium leather goods, always look beyond the 'Genuine Leather' branding and digging deeper into what it all means...
What is the 'GENUINE LEATHER' Tag?
Do NOT be reassured by the simple presence of this tag! The reality is - this tag only tells you that the product is made partly or fully with natural animal hide. It only tells you that the product contains genuine leather. Not all Genuine Leathers are of a good quality, strong or long lasting.
If you really like the natural feel and smell of real leather, you should always go for full grain leather. This leather develops a wonderful patina with everyday use. It is strong and durable and only the best leather brands use this leather. They can seem expensive in the short term, but they will stay unfailingly by your side for decades.
WHAT IS FULL-GRAIN LEATHER?
When you hold full grain leather in your hands, you will instantly feel the difference. The feel and smell is incomparable.
Full grain leather includes the ‘Grain’ or the topmost layer of any leather hide . This Grain is what imparts strength, beauty and character to leather. Full grain leather is used to make very long lasting, very sought-after leather products.
The main characteristic of full grain leather is that you can see unique markings; no two hides are the same. On most hides, there may be little scars, insect bites and folds in the skin acquired by an animal over its lifetime.
We believe they tell a unique story about each piece we make. More importantly, in most cases, these markings do not in anyway impact the durability of the leather goods.
WHAT IS SPLIT LEATHER?
Split Leather is the base which is used for most Genuine Leather goods today. A thick leather hide is 'split' into multiple layers. The topmost layer (full grain leather) is used in high quality products. The rest is split further, mostly between 0.5–0.8 mm. That’s really thin, brittle layers of leather — one of the main reasons items made with split leather don't last long!
How are these thin layers put to use? Naturally, they cannot be used in this form to make leather goods. These split layers are heavily processed and stuffed with chemicals to create supple and pliable, but very weak leather.
All that is left to do now, is to fake the appearance of full grain leather. No problem! A common industrial process is to heat-press a grain pattern over the split layer. Once done, the finished product looks like a cheap replica of full grain leather.
Bags, wallets and a host of other 'genuine leather' products are made with this heavily processed split leather backed by cloth padding and fillers to give it structure and support.
PRICE VS. QUALITY — FULL GRAIN LEATHER OR GENUINE LEATHER?
At first glance of a brand new product, say a handbag, you may not be able to tell the difference between well-finished split leather bag, and a full grain leather bag, unless you have an expert take a close look at it.
But a good indicator is the price of a product and reputation of the brand you are considering. A full grain leather bag will cost 5-10 times more than genuine leather in material costs alone. This makes split (genuine) leather products much more attractive to manufacturers and customers alike. Why bother to buy full grain leather, then?
Split leather may be cheaper than full grain leather but it usually does not last beyond 1–3 years of daily use, especially since a very thin layer of leather is used on most products. Peeling and cracking are common problems.
On the other hand, with full grain leather, you start seeing a beautiful patina on your leather possession as time goes buy. In fact, after 2-3 years of use, it turns into something more beautiful than you started out with! It gets better with age. You can rest assured that you have made a sound investment in a valuable possession. It is the best grade of leather money can buy and it can last decades if taken care of.
This is also true because this leather lends itself very well to high quality craftsmanship. All high quality handmade leather goods are made with full grain leather.
Besides, unlike genuine leather, or vegan leather (a clever name for PU leather), it does not end up in a landfill after 2 years of intermittent use. Once you use a full grain leather item, there is no turning back. You will never go back to ‘genuine’ leather. So, what’s your next full grain leather purchase going to be?