The Goods On Leather Goods
Posted by Wendy on January 08, 2016
There is something almost intoxicating about the feel and smell of leather, whether it is from the interior of a spiffy sports car, a brand new football, or a designer handbag (my particular favourite!).
In general, leather is sold in four forms:
Full-grain leather refers to hides that have not been treated to remove natural imperfections. The grain remains and is breathable, strong and durable. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a patina over time. High quality leather furniture and footwear are often made from full-grain leather.
Top-grain leather (typically used in high-end leather goods) is the second-highest quality. The top grain of the hide is split away from the fibrous part of the skin, making it thinner and more pliable. Its surface is sanded and it generally has a colder, almost synthetic feel. It doesn’t “breathe” so well but top-grain leather is more resistant to stains.
Corrected-grain leather has had an artificial grain applied to its surface. The imperfections are removed and an artificial grain is embossed into the surface which is then finished with stain or dyes.
Split leather is leather created from the fibrous part of the hide which remains after the top-grain has been removed. The split leather can then be split again. Split leather has an artificial layer applied which is embossed with a grain. Split leathers are also used to create suede which is "fuzzy" on both sides.
Since our prehistoric ancestors hunted wild beasts and fashioned crude clothing and shelters from the skin of their prey, leather has been an important part of our lives. We have wrapped ourselves in it, slept beneath it, used it to carry all manner of goods. We have worn it to protect ourselves against the elements, not to mention the slings and arrows of our foes. And we have sat on it in many forms from the humble bicycle seat, to the burnished leather of a well worn saddle. We have kicked it, hit it, walked on it, and worn it.
Man-made products – many of them excellent in their own right – have competed with leather over the years: exalted as easier and less expensive to produce, cheaper to buy. The sixties in particular saw a whole range of PVC footwear and accessories on high streets, none more delightful than the knee high boot.
While synthetic materials have more than earned a place in our lives, I am glad to say that leather has held its own. Cricket continues to be blessed by the sound of leather on willow. Leather continues to be the material of choice for many when it comes to footwear due to its breathability, durability and style. And leather fashion accessories make the perfect gift: a genuine leather wallet perhaps, or a stylish leather bag.
And while I may have to make do with the vinyl seats in my beloved car for a little while longer, the Porsche of my dreams will still come with leather seats!