Do you have a favorite leather piece? What does it look like? Is it shiny or a little faded?
What about the feel? Does it have a few scratches on it? Is it sporting a well-maintained peach fuzz?
When you've seen as much leather as we have, then you find yourself asking these questions.
The characteristics your leather item shows start with the type of leather it was made out of. For maximum clarity, when we say the type of leather, here we are referring specifically to the cut. You can describe leather multiple different ways but for now, let's focus on the part of the hide that your product is made out of.
When it comes to the cuts, all you need to know is Full Grain, Top Grain, & Genuine Leather.
This cut is the outermost layer of the animal hide. This section isn't sanded down or buffed and is characterized by its densely packed fibers. Full-Grain leather is the perfect material to make bags, belts, & other accessories out of. Another excellent quality you can expect from products made out of full-grain leather is their ability to resist water along with the gorgeous patina they develop over time.
Top Grain is very similar to Full-Grain, but it has been sanded & buffed to remove any natural scuffs or scratches on the animal before the hyde was removed. While you do get a softer leather with this cut, you lose a lot of the strength from the dense-packed Full-Grain leathers. You also lose a lot of the natural water-resistance that comes with a proper Full-Grain.
This type of leather can come from any part of the hide. The catch is that it is chemically treated to remove imperfections & take on a glossy or stamped look. This process alters (read weakens) the strength & other natural properties of leather.
Split Grain Leather
This leather is made from the lower levels of the top Grain. While it is still an excellent leather, it is not as valuable as Top Grain or Full Grain.
This is precisely what it sounds like. Take scraps of leather and leather scraps or just different pieces of leather and bond them together. It is often embossed or treated to imitate Full-Grain/ Top-Grain leathers.
Why do we use Full-Grain?
We are obsessed with using the best hides in the world. We only use full grain leather because it is far superior to "Genuine Leather." To give you a product that lasts a couple of lifetimes, we have found that Full Grain is the way to go! Other larger brands save on costs & cut corners by using cuts that are easier to work with and allows them to mass-produce bags that won't tell your story as a Colsen Keane bag will. Over time, full-grain leather will look nicer and nicer and develop a patina from being handled.
If you want to learn more about our leather working process, click here or visit our Charlotte, North Carolina workshop!