What Are The Different Types Of Leather

When looking for your next leather product, it’s important to understand the different types, grades and finishes on the market. Here’s your guide to the range of types available and what their quality grading means! 

What Is a Leather Hide? 

To understand the types and how they are graded, it’s necessary to start with the hide. A hide, or skin, is the protective layer of the animal that is used to make leather products. Depending on where the skin is taken from, the hide will be classified into the different types and grades of leather. There will never be a direct replica of a hide due to it being taken from different animals and as it has acted like their protective outer layer, it means no two leather products will ever be the same. 

Full Grain Leather 

Full grain leather is the highest quality leather you can purchase as it is taken from the strongest and most durable part of the hide. It is created from the outermost layer of the hide and just below the hair, producing the sought-after material durability as the fibres are more interlinked in this area. As a result, full grade leather has a long lasting lifespan and is the least likely to wear and tear over time. 

Its characteristics are highly desirable as it is not snuffed, buffed or sanded, meaning the material keeps its natural markings and it doesn’t wear out as easily over time. Instead, the leather will change in colour as it ages (also known as a Patina). Other natural markings, shadings, wrinkles and varying grain textures will also show in the leather to add unique character to the products and create a desirable finish. 

Full grain leather is not exclusive to cattle skin but can derive also from other animals similar to our goatskin and lambskin ranges. 

Top Grain Leather 

Top grade leather is the second highest quality leather and is also used for luxury goods. The word ‘top’ doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best quality in this instance but instead, it is named top grain because of the area it is taken from. 

The very top layer of the hide is then sanded, buffed or shaved off. As a result, a fresh surface can be applied for a variety of finishes to create the desired final look. 

Genuine Leather 

The genuine leather description has had a variety of meanings over time, including a more vague term to describe any material or product that has traces of animal skin within it. It is also referenced as a grade of leather, which is taken from the interior section of the hide. 

Due to this position, the grade, genuine leather (not referencing the blanket term) will have an effect on the robustness of the material as the fibres do not interlink as well, as opposed to the outer part of the hide. 

As a result of the lower quality, this grade of leather is favoured by high-street fashion, particularly with accessories, to give the classic leather quality look but for a fraction of the price. Here at Palaleather, we only provide the highest quality leather jackets in a variety of timeless styles. 

Bonded Leather 

Bonded leather is the lowest grade leather, as it is made using leather scraps and then manufactured to give a higher quality appearance. 

The durability of bonded leather is therefore the least superior grade on the market, has a shorter lifespan and is highly prone to peeling or cracking. 

It does have a considerably cheaper price tag because of its lesser quality and longevity. 

How can you tell it is real leather? 

As we have seen, leather can be a range of different types or grades and so it is important when choosing to be able to spot the signs of real leather. 

  • Always look at the product label. The label will always represent what the material is and showcase the product's real leather status. 

  • Imperfection is key. When you look closely at a genuine leather product, you will find that there are no consistent patterns. The look will be unique to that product and when it comes to leather, markings are more desired. 

  • A distinctive smell. Real leather has a unique smell that cannot be replicated. This is because no synthetic materials are used to create the products and are easy to spot straight away. 

  • Embrace the natural feel. When exploring the types, we highlighted that the further to the skin's surface it is taken from, the better the quality of leather. When feeling the product, you will notice that genuine leather has a more rough texture and so avoid anything that has a smooth, ‘plastic’ feel. 

  • With more than ten years within the leather industry, we are proud of the reputation we have built. We have a vast range of men’s and women’s leather jackets to suit your individual style or if you need assistance with any of our materials or products, get in touch with our dedicated customer service team.