Genuine leather has been used to create timeless fashions and pieces for centuries. Apart from being incredibly durable, it is elegant, natural, and it is a fantastic investment for the home or for your wardrobe. Purchasing that right piece of leather that will stand the test of time, however, can be a bit of a challenge if you do not know what you are looking for.
Why Leather Is Not “Just Leather.”
Leather is a general term used to tell a buyer that the product has been made of the skin of an animal. As long as animal skin has been used, manufacturers and retailers can claim that a product has been made from “genuine leather”.
This is why understanding the quality of the leather is important. A piece of leather will fall into one of three grades.
Grade 1: Full Grain
This is the finest quality of leather and is the most smooth and supple of them all. Grade-1 leathers are natural and have not needed to be buffed, split or corrected in any way to mask imperfections. The backsides of these leathers have not been coloured and are natural in appearance.
Grade 2: Top Grain
The surface of a grade-2 leather is not as smooth as grade-1 though it is usually buffed and treated with colour to mask that. The leather is then treated with top grade level treatments.
Grade 3: Split
Blotchy and inconsistent in colour, grade-3 or “split” leather is typically used for making corrected grain leathers or for making suede products. It is less durable than grade-1 and grade-2 leathers, and is often available in two finishes: pigmented and semi-aniline.
Your Leather Options
The hide of any animal can be tanned or processed to then turn into a gorgeous piece of leather. The animal leather you select will come down to a variety of factors, including durability, softness, and appearance.
Cowhide/Bovine Leathers: Companies such as NSW Leather Co. Pty Ltd (www.leatherco.com.au) have dedicated their company to exclusively providing this versatile fabric for home applications, outerwear, and more. Not only is cowhide the most abundant leather source, but it offers the greatest value in terms of durability, texture, appearance and comfort. It is easy to maintain, least expensive, and easy to break in.
- Calfskin: Calfskin is considered to be separate from cowhide or bovine leather. It is typically used to produce higher quality leather products and delivers a soft, smooth surface.
Sheep/Lamb Leathers: Finely grained and supple, sheepskin is a lightweight leather that is often used to create top of the line leather fashions and handbags. It is more prone to stretching than cowhide.
Pig/Hog Leathers: Dense, soft and durable, pigskin is another versatile leather which has a number of applications. It is most often used to craft handbags though it can also be used for hats, shoes and jackets.
Goatskin Leather: Less common but economical, this strong and durable leather features a fine grain and is tougher than cow leather.