The leather industry has been booming for thousands of years, ever since civilizations started to find uses for it. In primitive times, leather was used for protection against outdoor elements and for its versatility. While the same is true in today’s time, it’s also utilized for its stylish nature.
Unfortunately, like all other industries, quality is hard to come by as many companies look for cheaper alternatives. Although there’s nothing like good quality leather material, there is a wide range of lesser qualities available today - including forms of synthetic leather and faux leather.
Knowing how to spot the good from the bad, the quality from the cheap, is very important when searching for a leather item that’ll last. The cheap leather items might have that same look and style, but they don’t compare to the real thing and it’s obvious once you know the difference.
Good Quality Leather vs. Cheap Leather
If you’re trying to determine the leather quality of a product you’re interested in, there are several things you should pay attention to. The good news is real leather is highly distinguishable from its fake or cheap counterparts. Once you know what to look for, spotting it will come very easy.
Here are some of the things you should look for when separating good leather from bad leather:
If your leather product smells like plastic or leather treated with chemicals, it likely is. Real, quality leather will always smell like leather and it’ll smell authentic.
A leather’s grain refers to the part of the animal hide that’s used. The best quality leather is labeled full-grain leather, which utilizes the top layer and natural grain.
If the leather manufacturer rushed through the tanning process or wasn’t tanned properly, you’ll either see blue edges or paint to hide the minor imperfections.
All leather items will feature stitching in one way or another. A quality leather product has flawless stitching, valuable lining, and quality hardware attached to it.
Look & Feel
Much like the smell, if your leather has a plastic look and feel to it, it’s most likely made of plastic. Real leather has a look and feel to it that can’t be duplicated by other materials.
If you want the best of the best when it comes to leather, expect to pay a premium. Quality leather comes at a price, but it’s a price that’s well worth it.
Different Types of Leather & Leather Qualities
Now that you have a good idea of what to look for in quality leather products, let’s take a closer look at the different types of leather available. This includes full-grain leather, top-grain leather, corrected grain leather, bonded leather, and much more. Remember, the type of leather is vital.
Full-grain leather is the highest-quality leather available. It’s made of the hide’s top layer with the natural grain still intact. This ensures a natural leather surface with natural imperfections, as well as inherent toughness. Over time, it’ll build a beautiful natural patina that can’t be replicated.
Top-grain leather is similar to full-grain leather in that it utilizes the upper layer of the hide. The difference here is top-grain leather is sanded to remove those beautiful natural blemishes and imperfections. It’s a higher-quality leather than most, but not when comparing it to full-grain.
Corrected Grain Leather
Corrected grain leather, also known as split-grain leather or genuine leather, is a lower-quality leather than the other two we mentioned. It’s made of the parts of the hide that are left over after the top layers are utilized. It’s sanded and usually spray-painted to help with its appearance.
When full-grain, top-grain, and genuine leather products are made, there are often bits and pieces of leftover leather. These bits and pieces aren’t wasted. Instead, they’re bonded together with polyurethane or latex. Once spray-painted, it has a leather resemblance, but not a quality one.
Other Types of Leather Grades
In addition to those leather qualities, there is a wide range of other leather grades that you’ll see when shopping. Aniline leather is the most natural and is usually found with full-grain leather. You’ll also see patent leather, antique-grain leather, pigmented leather, nubuck leather, pull-up leather, printed leather, semi-aniline leather, and faux leather.
Different Parts of the Animal Hide
The type of animal hide also plays a role in the value and quality of leather. For example, cattle hides are the most common in the leather industry today, but you’ll also see hides from sheep, pigs, goats, buffalo, deer, elk, snakes, alligators, crocodiles, and even more exotic ones.
The part of the hide also matters. For example, the butt and back area is the best part of the hide for leather. The fibers are tight and compact. The shoulder and neck are the next desirable parts, while the flanks, shanks, and belly are the least desirable -- due to looser fibers and poor quality.
The Leather Making Process
The leather-making process is also important when manufacturing quality leather. You can’t have a finished product without putting raw hides through a vegetable tanning manufacturing process. Vegetable-tanned leather is more durable and produces a better appearance.
You can also find leather that undergoes a chrome tanning, mineral tanning, oil tanning, or aldehyde tanning process.
High-Quality Leather Has a Natural Patina
The natural patina of leather is one of the most sought-after features of good quality leather. It’s the soft sheen that develops over time, giving the leather character and personality as it ages. It makes the leather look used, which is something many people desire for its unique appearance.
Are You Looking for the Best Quality Leather Goods?
Good leather is hard to find in today’s crowded market. Luckily, you won’t have to look far because we’re here to help. Black Brook Case is dedicated to offering a variety of high-quality leather products -- including cases, bags, office products, belts, shoes, and much more.
All of our leather goods are made out of premium full-grain leather, the best of the best. They’re made with tender love and care to ensure our customers get the most out of their leather product. If you’re ready to start shopping for good quality leather, visit our online shop today!