What You Need To Know About Quality Leather Goods
There are many reasons people are willing to pay more for beautiful leather jackets, shoes, wallets, and even furniture. What are these reasons? One of the most popular reasons to buy leather is that it is durable and lasts a long time. In fact, leather often lasts up to four times as long as comparable materials. People choose leather because it can be repaired, washed, and maintained while keeping its timeless beauty; a cloth jacket isn’t quite as durable. Leather also resists picking up smells. Ultimately, the leather is soft and comfortable. It lasts much longer than cloth and other materials. It is stain and smell resistant. Finally, quality leather goods never goes out of style.
Understanding the Differences in Types of Leather
Before purchasing leather goods, you should know that there are several types of leather. People have been using the hide of cows to create a stable material for thousands of years. The processes used to tan and process hides have naturally evolved over the years. Today, you can purchase top-grain, full-grain, split leather, and bonded leather goods. Full-grain is the most expensive and the most desired of the leathers. Top-grain and full-grain leather are available in three categories: aniline, semi-aniline, and protected. The procedure used to create aniline leather involves the use of soluble dyes but doesn’t provide a surface coloring or coating. This results in a natural appearance. Semi-aniline products do have a pigment treating and conceal blemishes in the leather. Protected leathers have a coating that protects the leather.
Identifying Top Quality Leather
You may have heard people talking about Italian leather. This is because of the tanning techniques that have been honed over generations of craftsmanship. The results of these efforts are known around the world; Italian leather is superior to other leathers in quality, strength, and appearance. Whether you have the opportunity to invest in Italian leather or are looking for a top-quality closer to home, there are several ways you can identify great leather:
1. Invest in Full-Grain Leather for the Best Products
This type of leather has the most natural appearance, with very few flaws. Look for an aniline full-grain leather for the best of the best. Over the years, this leather will develop a patina that protects the leather and delivers a beautiful luster.
2. Choose Top-Grain Leather for Quality Products That Are Conveniently Available
Top-grain products are made of thinner leather than full-grain. As a result, the jackets, bags, and shoes made from top-grain leather are a little less breathable, but they are also better at resisting stains and damage. Naturally, these products are less expensive and easier to find. Often, leather wallets and bags in this category are very popular as gifts.
3. Recognize the Flaws in Genuine Leather
People often read labels with the term “genuine leather,” believing that this is an indication of authenticity. Unfortunately, the term actually indicates the lowest quality leather. These products are typically made from remnants, leftovers, and patches of leather that didn’t look or feel as desirable as other pieces. You can’t expect this type of leather to last long, but you may still enjoy having a leather product for a much lower price.
4. Choose Vegetable Tanning Over Chrome Tanning
Some leather workers use chemicals to achieve a uniform color quickly. The resulting products may be available in a rainbow of colors. Vegetable tanning, on the other hand, is achieved after months of work. These products come in rich earth tones and will develop that desirable patina over time. Vegetable-tanned leathers soften when used and will last for several generations. A product made from this leather will have a much higher price tag than chrome tanned items.
Recognizing Fake Leather
Some consumers prefer faux leather products because they are concerned about the treatment of animals. However, others want to purchase authentic leather goods, knowing that these products help reduce waste and other issues associated with consumer materialism. If you’re interested in purchasing leather goods, use the following tips to recognize fake leather:
- Check the label. If you find the term “man-made,” and you don’t see any mention of grain, then the product is probably made of polyvinyl chloride.
- Low prices are a big clue that the item isn’t real leather. Prepare to invest in top quality leather wallets; otherwise, you’re probably buying fake leather.
- Faux leather feels very even and slightly cold. It won’t stretch or wrinkle when you press on it; instead, the synthetic material will keep its shape and simply depress.
- Real leather has a pleasing, earthy smell. The synthetic stuff smells a bit like plastic or chemical.
- When the leather pattern is uniform, it has probably been embossed to look like grain leather.
- Artificial leather doesn’t have a recognizable color change when it’s folded and bent.
- Faux leathers don’t absorb conditioners.
- Products made of bonded leather may look like quality goods but are actually built of bits of leather and bigger polyurethane pieces. These items are painted to look like leather, but they will crack and fall apart quickly.
Caring for Leather
After investing in a beautiful leather product, make sure you understand how to care for leather, so your investment lasts for several years. With the right research into your purchase and some consistent care, you’ll enjoy the supple feel and lasting endurance of a top-quality leather product. What leather products have you considered buying? Are there any items in your collection that have passed from one generation to another? What are your favorite things about owning authentic, full-grain leather items?