When buying a leather good, let’s say a belt, you’ll notice a stamp on its underside that may say one of the three things: genuine leather, top-grain leather, or full-grain leather. This is a leather quality stamp which will help you determine if you’re paying for a good deal or not.
More often than not, people mistake these three kinds of leather quality as one and the same. Although any leather good with any of these stamps mean that it is made of real leather, they have huge differences when it comes to quality.
Typically, leather is split into two parts: top-grain layer and split layer. Top-grain layer is the layer closest to the animal’s hair; split layer is what’s left when the higher grade layer is stripped away.
Goods marked as genuine leather is made out of several split-layer leather glued together and then embossed with a natural leather-like texture to look more appealing.
It is the lowest quality of real leather and generally doesn’t last as long or look as good as higher-quality leather. You’ll often find this in belts, shoes and bags from department stores and mall stores with a lower price range.
Top-grain leather is the second highest grade leather. It is made by splitting the top layer of the hide and then sanded to remove the blemishes of the leather. The surface is then treated and embossed with leather patterns to simulate a full-grain leather marking.
This type of leather quality is not as durable as full-grain and won’t age well with use. Often, it will look old and worn after a time. However, the color and finish of the leather is great and it is resistant to stain. This high-grade leather is often used for “fine” leather goods sold by well- known designer brands.
Full-grain leather is the highest quality of real leather. It takes the entire grain of the hide, flaws and all. The natural markings on the hide and its inherent durability is what makes this type of leather more desirable and expensive.
It will develop a rich patina as it ages, making it more beautiful the more you use it. It’s often used for heavy duty leather items like weapon holsters and utility belts but it can also be used for other leather goods such as boots, briefcases and bags.
Whatever the quality of your leather bags and shoes are, it is best to maintain them in top condition so as to help prolong their lifespan. A visit to Doctor Leather will help your leather bags, shoes and other good stay in shape and remain beautiful!