What is Genuine Leather?

That phrase “Genuine leather” is probably the most deceptive marketing term for leather out there, but what does it mean? Genuine Leather still does contain real leather elements, but is not very strong or durable. It is the leather scrap, usually consisting of the felt or flesh side of the full grain leather that is removed from the full grain leather. Why is that part removed? Because leather can be incredibly thick when it is full grain. Full grain leather is also more expensive than the other grades of leather. We stock some products like our gun belts that are full grain leather and are up to 1/4 inch thick.

Leather grades range from full grain all the way down to bonded leather. I will try to relate this to wood construction materials in hopes that it will be easier to understand.

Full grain leather is by far the most expensive leather there is. It can be extremely thick to fairly thin. Full grain leather shows the imperfections that exist on the outside of the animal. These imperfections can be bite marks, brands, and range scars from the animal getting scratched or cut. Those imperfections may not look absolutely perfect, but they make that product unique with some of those imperfections facing the world. This is the strongest leather grade there is because it has the entirety of the hide structure. Full grain leather would be similar to purchasing rough cut lumber with the true sizing and imperfections still in the lumber.

Showing Full Grain Leather, which is what we use for every project

Top grain leather is the next step down from full grain leather. This leather is almost as strong as the full grain but the imperfections have been removed by shaving them off. In doing that shaving process, you lose a little bit of that strength but gain a nearly perfect side to show the world. This is the leather cut that a lot of the high end mass manufacturers use in their products. While it is not as expensive as full grain leather, it still does have a significant cost to it.

Showing Top Grain Leather

Genuine leather is our next step down in the leather grading process. Genuine leather is made from the cut off parts of full grain and top grain leather that are too thick. What you are left with is a leather that has very little strength. Any grain that exists is created using this leftover leather. That creation process includes adding other materials such as plastics which helps to hold the desired grain look to show off to the world. It generally has a slightly plastic feel to it and will generally not last very long. This is because the little bit of strength that genuine leather has is provided mostly by the additives. The cost is incredibly low while still containing real leather. This leather would be similar to buying OSB. You have real wood chunks in there that are held together by glue. That glue is where the strength is coming from.

Showing where Genuine Leather comes from

Bonded leather is the bottom rung of the leather grades. This stuff is just terrible. It is the scraps that are cut off that are then ground up, then built back up to something almost resembling leather with a lot of additives. This bonded leather will work well for something that is stationary, not holding any weight, and not trying to hold it’s own weight. An example of this would be a decorative piece for an open house. Something to add a leather touch with minimal cost and no expectations of it lasting. This leather would be close to buying particle board. Just don’t get it wet.

Showing what makes up Bonded Leather

Now that we have all of that cleared up, I would like to finish this off with this. We proudly use full grain leather for all of our products. We do not take short cuts with our products or materials. Why? Because you, our customer, are worth it. With that, you will likely end up paying slightly more in comparison to some of our competitors. But your product will last. We do not make things to fail. We don’t want you coming back in 6 months because something fell apart. We want you coming back because you really like our product and want another version or a whole new product.