Not all leather is created equal. To show you how are bags are made to stand out from the crowd, we’re here to explain the different types of leather used for leather products.
Full Grain & Top Grain
Full grain and top grain leather are similar, but not exactly the same. Full grain is the entire grain without any layers cut out while top grain is everything except a few millimeters on the very top of the leather.
The difference here is that full grain leather is more durable and less uniform in appearance. It shows all the imperfections and marks from the skin. Top grain leather is sturdy, but not quite as durable as full grain leather, and it has a more uniform finish.
Both of these leather types make up the highest quality of leather. They’re often the type of leather you find in the best bags, shoes, and other leather products. Because of their durability, full grain and top grain leather are both more likely to last for years with proper care, while thinner leather may fade out.
Also called corrected grain, this type of leather is artificially corrected with synthetic grain. This process is often done on leather that’s been scarred or damaged. Instead of reusing it directly, the leather is split to the right sizes then buffed out to replace the worn or damaged leather with a synthetic leather grain. The added synthetic layer makes the leather look uniform and unflawed.
While this leather is still relatively durable, it’s not as strong as full grain or top grain. It looks cleaner, but also tends to look more processed. You’ll see this used a lot in handbags and leather products with unnatural prints.
After removing the full grain leather, what’s left of the hide is the split suede. It’s a softer suede leather on both sides. This is technically a byproduct of regular leather processing, but it’s a more affordable option than top grain or full grain leather and has a softer feel. It’s fairly durable but may not be as long-lasting as higher quality leather products. This is the highest quality of suede available.
Nubuck is a type of suede leather made from full grain leather. The full grain leather hide is agitated and buffed to open up the hair cells on the skin. This results in a softer layer, similar to suede, on top with the normal leather hide on the bottom. Nubuck looks great, but it’s not as durable and can’t withstand a lot of wear and tear before it starts to lose its beauty. It’s also difficult to clean.
You’ll often see nubuck used in leather boots and shoes. Because it’s sturdy, it holds up well to the elements and keeps its shape. However, it can quickly get ruined, making it a little less common for dress shoes and other beauty-focused uses.
Leather can be recycled, in a sense. Old leather products are ground up and bonded together using a strong adhesive. This new material is called reconstituted, bonded, or fiber leather. It looks great at first, and feels nice to the touch, but it’s not nearly as durable or hardy as any of the other leather types listed above. Although it’s made to mimic full grain leather, it’s far from it in terms of quality.
You can expect bonded leather products to become damaged more easily. They’re also likely to get ruined more quickly and become unusable. A bonded leather product is not likely to last you for years.
What We Use
We only use 100% full grain or top grain cow leather. All our leather products use the best quality leather for durability and beauty. At Denali Leather Goods, we believe in making a fantastic product that you’ll be able to use for decades to come.
Don’t settle for less than the best.