Most people know leather when they see it -- after all, leather is one of the most-used materials in the world. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of all the different types of leather. In fact, many people don’t even know where leather comes from and what makes it so special.
Contrary to popular belief, not all leather is created equal and some are a much higher quality than others. It might surprise most people, but a majority of the leather that’s sold in the United States (and all over the world) is not as tough or protective as advertised.
That’s where having a deeper understanding of leather can lead to a better decision when purchasing leather products. They might have fooled you before, but they won’t fool you again!
So, What Is Leather And Why Is It So Popular?
Leather is one of man’s earliest discoveries. It opened up an entire world of opportunity and possibilities in the early days of its use, which date back to primitive time. Man would hunt animals for food, but use their hide (skin) for clothing, footwear, and protection.
Leather quickly grew in popularity due to its accessibility (as a byproduct of food) and incredible versatility. It was tough enough to protect just about anything, easy to cut into just about any shape you wanted, and lasted for a long time (making it very valuable).
It was a byproduct back then and it’s a byproduct today -- though it takes on an entirely new meaning in our culture. Viewed more as a luxury than a necessity, most leather today comes from cowhide -- the same cows that give us our milk and beef.
The hide goes through an intense ‘tanning’ process to make it more durable and minimize the aging process. In today’s culture, this is also where they color the leather for greater versatility.
Understanding the Different Types of Leather
Now that we understand what leather is and where it comes from, we can start to understand the many different types of leather. Believe it or not, some types are more durable than others -- much like human skin is tougher in certain areas of the body.
For starters, it’s important to understand the different parts of the hide that are cut from the animal. This often includes the shoulder, the butt, the belly, and the bend. The butt and the bends are stronger and thicker, while the shoulder is more flexible. The belly is the least-valued part of the hide.
Aside from the different parts of the hide, leather is further categorized by the different types of leather -- which include full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine leather, split-grain leather, and bonded leather. It all depends on the layer of the hide that’s used.
The layers include the grain (outermost layer), the grain and corium junction (where the grain and corium start to blend together), the corium (fibers aren’t as tight as the grain), and the flesh (usually not used, mostly muscle and fatty tissues). Let’s take a closer look at each type of leather:
- Full-Grain Leather - the highest-quality leather available, full-grain leather is made out of the top layer of the hide (grain) and the second layer (grain and corium junction). It hasn’t been sanded or buffed, making it the most natural cut.
- Top-Grain Leather - similar to full-grain, but not as natural or durable, top-grain leather has been sanded or buffed to remove any imperfections in the leather. It only uses part of the top layer (grain), but more of the third layer (corium) and second (grain and corium junction).
- Genuine Leather - also known as corrected leather, genuine leather barely uses any of the top grain of the hide. Instead, it’s mostly made out of the second (grain and corium junction) and third layer (corium).
- Split-Grain Leather - this type of leather is often used when coloring leather during the tanning process. It’s not as durable and tight as full- or top-grain, but it does include the lower levels of the grain (for some of the benefit).
- Bonded Leather - also known as reconstituted leather, bonded leather is the least-valued type of leather. It’s made by bonding together different scraps of leather that are left over from the hide.
If you’re looking for the best leather products available, you should definitely aim for a full-grain leather -- top-grain leather is quality as well, but not as high as full-grain. Genuine leather is often more affordable than the other two.
You’ll also see leather categorized as aniline or semi-aniline. Aniline leather is only dyed with soluble dyes and doesn’t include a top coat, which retains the natural look with all of its imperfections. Semi-aniline leather is similar, except there’s a thin protective top coat over it.
Leather can also be categorized as embossed, embroidered, antique-grain, brush colored, degrained, bicast, double face, faux, hand-worked, metallic, interwoven, Nappa, Nubuck, pigmented leather, pearlized, patent, printed, stretch, quilon, and suede.
Quality Leather From Black Brook Case by Burkley
At Black Brook Case, we love leather just as much as the next person -- if not more! We value the strong traditions of hand craftsmanship and are dedicated to providing our customers with the highest-quality leather products available today.
You’ll be surprised by all the different ways you can utilize leather on a daily basis. We supply a wide range of phone cases, wallets, bags, watch bands, AirPod cases, and other accessories you find around the home or office. If you need, we have it -- in leather!
When you shop Black Brook Case, you know you’re receiving the best quality because we only use premium full-grain leather -- the most valuable leather types out there. We make sure every stitch is administered with precision, passion, and skill, leaving you with a beautiful leather product.
Feel free to browse through our online store and shop our growing list of leather products or contact us today with any questions you might have. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store and share our passion with you! Also if you haven't known we recently rebranded to BlackBrook Case, the new name for Burkley Case.