What is Full Grain Leather? and what makes it any better than standard leather?
These are two of the most common questions that we get asked here at Reyt Wallet. When shopping for leather goods there is a lot of terminology that retailers throw around and they all sound like they might be the best choice. Let’s go through them and analysis what each term means and where they rank in comparison with eachother. The most common are Full Grain, Top Grain and Genuine Leather.
Full Grain Leather
First of all, what is “grain” when it comes to leather? The grain is the outer layout of the “hide”, which refers to the skin removed from the animal. When it comes to full grain leather, only the hairs of the animal are removed from the hide. Maintaining the grain in it’s natural form, you end up with a strong leather through the densely packed fibers that run across the surgace. This makes the leather perfect for tough use as the surface grains improve durability. Similarly, by keeping the product in its most natural form, you are able to see the natural patterns and imperfections in the leather. We believe these natural imperfections and details in the grain are what make leather a beautiful product to work with.
Top Grain Leather
Top Grain Leather is very similar to Full Grain Leather, however the top layer of the leather is stripped off through sanding or buffing. The process removes the imperfections and irregularities from the leather. Although this can be seen as a more visually appealing look for certain use cases, the process can also reduce the longevity of the leather and potentially some water resistance from the leather. Therefore it is important to understand the tradeoff between the strength of the leather and making the leather “perfect” in appearance.
Genuine leather is an interesting term used throughout the leather industry. For many retail companies this term acts as a marketing device that sounds as good as full grain or top grain leather, whilst allowing the company to save money and provide a substandard product.
Genuine leather comes from any part of the hide and is heavily treated to create a uniform appearance. This includes sanding, buffing, dying and embossing. This heavy processing can once again reduce the durability of the leather. However genuine leather works well for a budget retail choice.
Split Grain Leather
Split grain leather is a lot less commonly used term in the retail industry. It reers to a layered cut of leather taken from within the lower levels of the top grain area of the hide. This can provide a useful leather material but comes from a lower level of hide than full grain and top grain cuts.Split grain leather is a less dense, durable and useful form of leather. It is often used as a finishing leather as it doesn’t have the physical use, but can create an aesthetically pleasing look once processed.
At the bottom of the list is bonded leather, also know as reconstituted leather. This is a leather product made up by finely shredding scraps of leather and bonding them together using latex or polyurethane. This product can often have as little as 10% actual leather inside it. Although it can be stained and embossed to look like real leather, this product lacks the real world usability and feel of a true full grain leather product.
After analysing each type of leather, it is clear to see why we use full grain leather at Reyt Wallet. Although many retail companies use genuine leather for their wallets as it provides consistency and affordability, we use full grain leather for its durability, uniqueness and overall premium feel. By using full grain leather, our wallets develop a beautiful patina over time. As the leather is worn through everyday use, it develops a soft sheen and darkening from oxidisation and wear and tear. This means that the wallet can last years to come, and instead of looking old and damaged, it will look stylish and classic for years to come.