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Know Your Leather: Full-Grain Vs. Genuine Leather

Know Your Leather: Full-Grain Vs. Genuine Leather

If you’re shopping for a new leather purse, wallet, shoes, or any other products, you may be confused by all the different terms used to describe leather. Full grain leather, genuine leather, top grain leather, vegan leather, and the list goes on. Deciphering what these terms mean and using them to choose a high quality leather product is important. After all, you don’t want to waste your money and purchase a low quality leather good that isn’t going to last long. Today, we’re going to take a look at two of the most frequently confused terms: full grain leather vs genuine leather. Despite what some may believe, these two leather grades are not the same thing—or even close to the same thing.

What is full grain leather?

If you’re looking for high quality leather, you should be looking for full grain leather. Full grain leather keeps the entire grain of the animal’s hide intact. Vegetable tanned leather made with the entire grain of an animal’s hide offers exceptional durability. A full grain leather piece will last significantly longer than one made with a lower grade of leather.

Beyond the unbeatable quality, full grain leather is also absolutely gorgeous. Each piece features natural imperfections that make it unique. The feel and appearance of full grain leather even improves over time. A patina develops over the surface as the leather ages, giving it a buttery soft feel.

While our focus today is on full grain vs genuine leather, we think it is also important to touch on top grain leather. Top grain leather, also called corrected grain leather, is made from the outermost layer of an animal’s hide. When top grain leather is made, the outer layer of the animal’s hide is sanded to create a smoother and more uniform look. Top grain leather is not as durable or long-lasting as full grain leather. However, it is considered the second highest grade of leather, making it a better choice than genuine leather, which we’ll discuss below.

What is genuine leather?

Despite how the name makes it sound, genuine leather is not a top-quality leather product. The truth is that genuine leather is among the lowest grades of leather. The marketing term ‘genuine leather’ was developed to make customers believe they were purchasing a high-quality leather product.

However, in reality, genuine leather goods are simply made using some real leather. Rather than a full piece of an animal’s hide, these products are made using small scraps and pieces of leather that are placed between pieces of plastic and sewn together.

As you can probably guess, the resulting product does not match the quality or performance of full grain leather, or even top grain leather. It is nowhere near as durable, will not form a patina as it ages, and does not bear the unique markings and grain you’ll find with full grain leather. Because the pieces of leather are sewn together, the stitching is likely to deteriorate and cause the piece to fall apart. 

So, while genuine leather is technically leather, it is not a good option if you’re looking for a leather item that will look great and last for years to come.

Genuine vs Full Grain Leather: Which Should You Choose

Ultimately, the choice of what to spend your money on is up to you. However, we think that there should be no debate between genuine leather products and full grain leather products. As a low quality leather, any pieces you purchase that are labeled genuine leather are not likely to last very long. They also won’t look anywhere near as attractive as a full grain leather product. On the other hand, a full grain leather purse, wallet, journal, shoes, or any other item will be highly durable, long-lasting, and beautiful.

Genuine Leather vs Full Grain Leather: Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about full grain leather products and how they compare to those labeled genuine leather, the decision about which to purchase should be easy. When you’re looking for the highest quality leather, want a piece with unique character, and are willing to make an investment that is certain to last for years to come, full grain leather is the only option to consider.

FAQs

Which is better genuine leather or full grain leather?

Full grain leather is a much higher quality leather than ‘genuine’ leather. The difference between the two grades is significant. Full grain leather is made using the entire animal hide, making it durable, attractive with its unique markings, and long-lasting. Genuine leather, on the other hand, is made by sewing leather scraps and plastic together. The result is a low-grade leather that is likely to fall apart after minimal use. Genuine leather also can’t match the distinguished look of full grain leather.

Is genuine leather real leather?

While leather products labeled as ‘genuine leather’ are technically made using real leather, they are very low quality. Genuine leather pieces are made by stitching leftover scraps of leather together with plastic. The finished product is not durable and is not likely to last for even a fraction of the time that a high quality full grain leather piece would.

Is genuine leather good?

No, genuine leather is not among the highest quality leather options. It is of a very low quality and is not durable.

What is full grain genuine leather?

Full grain leather is the highest quality leather you can find. It is made using the entire animal hide, meaning it is very durable, resistant to wear, and long-lasting. Full grain leather also features unique markings, making each piece special.

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