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Why Understanding Types Of Leather Leads To Happier Purchases

April 01, 2022 5 min read

Types of leather

There are many types of leather in the world, and each one has its own unique characteristics.


Some are soft and pliable, while others are stiff and durable. We know why we love leather and why we're addicted to leather designer handbags, but do we really know which leather makes the best bags and why?


In this post, we'll take a look at the different types of leather and their uses. We'll also explore where they come from and why certain types make the best handbags, leading to more satisfying purse purchases! So without further ado, let's get started!

 

Genuine leather handbags

What Are The Four Types Of Leather?


There are four leading types of leather: full-grain, top-grain, genuine, and bonded.


Full-grain leather is the highest quality. It's made from the outermost layer of the hide and has all of the natural grain. This particular type of leather is strong and durable, but it can be quite expensive.


Top-grain leather is the second-highest quality. It's made from the innermost layer of the hide and has a smooth surface. This type of leather is also strong and durable, but it's not as expensive as full-grain leather.


Genuine leather is lower quality than both full-grain and top-grain. It's made from the innermost layer of the hide, but it doesn't have a smooth surface. Genuine leather is not as strong or durable as the other two, but it's more affordable and still 100% leather.


Bonded leather is the lowest quality. It's made from bits and pieces of leather that are bonded together with adhesives. This leather isn't as strong or durable as the other three, and it's the most affordable.

 

Four types of leather for bags


Difference Between Bonded And Bicast Leather


The main difference between bonded and bicast leather is how leather is formed.


Bicast leather is made from a single piece of leather that has been split into two layers. The top layer is given a polyurethane coating, while the bottom layer remains unfinished. On the other hand, bonded leather is made from bits and pieces of leather that are bonded together with adhesives.


You'll often find bicast leather in lower-quality products, such as furniture. This is often why some "leather" couches tend to split or crack over time. The leather used with this type of furniture is often bicast rather than the more expensive couches and sofas available made of higher quality leather.


Bonded leather is often used in bookbinding and upholstery because it's a more affordable option, and it's able to be easily molded into different shapes.


What Is The Strongest Type Of Leather?


Full-grain leather is the strongest of all leather types. This is because full-grain is made from the outermost layer of the hide, which is the strongest part. Top-grain leather is also quite strong, but it's not as strong as full-grain.


Full-grain leather is used in high-quality products, such as handbags, shoes, and belts. It's also used in products that need to be very strong, such as saddles and horse tack.


Top-grain leather is used in slightly lower-quality products, such as furniture and wallets. It's also used in products that don't need to be as strong as full-grain leather, such as purses and laptop cases.


Which Type Of Leather Is Best?


For all the aforementioned reasons above, the best type of leather is full-grain leather. Because of its strength, this type of leather is also very durable.


Over time, full-grain leather will develop a natural patina from being used. This patina will give the leather a unique appearance that will only improve with age. The patina makes full-grain leather very desirable for products such as shoes, belts, and wallets.


However, the price point of this leather correlates with its known reputation of being the 'best.' Full-grain leather is much thicker and more challenging to bend, stitch, and work with, so the prices for any full-grain products always reflect the cost of the leather and longer labor hours that are necessary for this leather type.


What Is The Softest Type Of Leather?


The softest type of leather from cowhide is Nappa leather.


Nappa leather is a term to describe a full-grain leather that has undergone a process called aniline dying. This process makes the leather more pliable and soft to the touch.


Nappa leather is often used in extremely high-end products, such as handbags, shoes, and gloves. You can also find it in luxury cars with leather seats made out of Nappa leather.


Many different animal hides can make leather, though, and lambskin is the softest of all the leathers from an alternative source. It is the softest because it is the thinnest of all the leathers and is thus more flexible. Lambskin has an airy and light-layered structure, giving this leather a soft, smooth, and velvet feel.


Types Of Leather For Shoes


Shoes are a popular leather product. The three common types of leather used in shoes are full-grain leather, top-grain leather, and Nappa leather.


Since full-grain leather is the strongest and most durable, it's often used in shoes like boots that must be very tough and long-lasting.


Top-grain leather isn't as strong as full-grain, but it's still quite durable. It's often used in shoes like dress shoes that don't need to be as tough as boots but still need to last a long time.


Nappa leather is the softest and most pliable, so it's often used in shoes like gloves and slippers that need to be very soft and comfortable.


You'll fare excellent with any shoes made from either of these types of leather; you just need to choose based upon what use you'll use the shoes for.


Types Of Leather For Bags


You'll find handbags made of all types of leather and made from all kinds of animals. The most popular leathers for handbags are cowhide, pigskin, and lambskin.


Cowhide is the strongest and most durable, so it's often used in handbags that need to be very tough and long-lasting, such as messenger bags and laptop cases.


Pigskin is not as strong as cowhide, but it's still quite durable. It's often used in handbags that need to be soft and pliable, such as hobo bags and clutch purses.


Lambskin is the softest and most pliable, so it's often used in handbags that need to be very soft and comfortable, such as evening bags and wallets.


You'll find all sorts of bags made from these leather types, so it really just depends on your handbag needs and personal preferences as to which one you choose. 

We also didn't forget about our Vegan Leather lovers and created our Vegan Leather Handbag.


In Summary

Leather is a versatile material used in everyday clothing, shoes, and handbags to furniture and seats in our car.


Depending on what your leather goods will be used for, certain types of leather are best for one over the other. Leather options like bonded or bicast leather, which are much cheaper than the best quality leathers like full-grain and top-grain leather, appeal to many kinds of budgets. Genuine leathers fall in the middle of these types, being lower quality than the best but still 100% leather.


The next time you are researching and shopping for a leather product, feel comfortable and knowledgeable with your choice of leather. You'll find that out of all the types of leather, MAYKO's handbags and wallets were carefully made with the best leather selections for each bag to always be of top quality.