Leather is a material made from the skin (hide) of an animal by tanning or a similar process. Most hides have to be split because it is too thick to be used in any type of manufacturing. The top portion of the hide is known as Top Grain Leather while the bottom layer is known as Split Leather.
Top Grain Leather
Top Grain Leather is the most valuable, desirable and durable part of the animal hide which is just below the hair. Every Top Grain Leather has some kinds of markings such as scars, insect bites, wrinkles and veining which are natural characteristics of leather.
Top Grain Leather can be sub-categorized into: Full Grain Leather and Corrected Grain Leather.
Full Grain Leather refers to hides that have not been sanded or buffed to remove imperfections or markings on the surface of the hide. Full Grain Leather maintains all the texture of the hide.
Corrected Grain Leather has the surface lightly sanded or buffed to remove the imperfections and markings. There are different grades of Corrected Grain Leather depending on the degree of correction.
Genuine Leather is always misunderstood because it can be used to identify anything from the best to the lowest quality leather. In the market, Genuine Leather is mostly referred to Split Leather and Bonded Leather.
Split Leather is the bottom layer of the animal hide after it is split. It is coarser, less durable but more affordable than Top Grain Leather. Split Leather is often used to make Suede or Pigmented Leather by coating the surface with polymer and pigment.
Bonded Leather is made of leftover leather scraps that are glued together and embossed with artificial grain to imitate leather. Bonded Leather is the lowest grade of Genuine Leather and the actual leather content can be 10% or lesser. In some countries, Bonded Leather cannot be labeled as Genuine Leather.
Fake leather is a bad alternative to natural leather. It lacks the natural elasticity and toughness that natural leather has, which means its lifespan is much shorter because it can be torn easily.
Fake leather are marketed under many names such as Faux Leather, Vegan Leather, PU Leather, PVC Leather, Synthetic Leather, Pleather, Simulated Leather, Leatherette, Artificial Leather, Quality Leather and Eco Leather.
A leather can usually be put into one of the three main finishes: Aniline Leather, Semi-Aniline Leather and Pigmented Leather.
1) Aniline Leather is the most natural looking leather with the unique surface characteristics of the hide remaining visible. Aniline Leather is also the most precious finishes in leather manufacturing because only high quality Top Grain Leather are suitable for aniline finishing.
2) Semi-Aniline Leather is slightly more durable than Aniline Leather while still retaining a natural appearance. The increased durability is provided by the application of a light surface coating which contains a small amount of pigment. This ensures consistent color and some stain resistance.
3) Pigmented Leather is durable and lacks the look of natural leather because the surface is coated with polymer. Split Leather is often used to make Pigmented Leather and emboss with artificial grain pattern to imitate Top Grain Leather.
Differentiate Leather Finishes
Aniline Leather feels the smoothest to the touch. Semi-Aniline Leather also feels smooth but not to the same extent due to the light surface coating. Pigmented Leather feels similar to plastic because of the polymer surface coating.
When Aniline Leather comes into contact with a drop of water, it absorbs the water immediately. With Semi-Aniline Leather, the surface supports the water before slowly absorbing it. Pigmented Leather doesn't absorb water, so the water stays on the surface until it slides off.
Leather is strong, durable and sustainable. It offers something that no other material can match – uniqueness. No two hides are identical.
Leather appeals to our senses. There is nothing like the feel and smell of it. It becomes softer and more beautiful with age. It gives an aura of luxury and prestige.