When you’re buying a nice leather product, be it a leather notebook, jacket, or shoes, you should know exactly what to look for in your leather. Most quality goods should have stamp on them signifying what type of leather the given product is made up of. The two keys forms are top-grain leather and full-grain leather. So the big question is, what do these actually mean?
Cow hides are thick. The hide is usually split which means that the thickness is sliced into two pieces, making nearly two sheets of leather. Ironically top grain leather is the underside of the hide. It has a suede look on both sides top and bottom. The leather is not as strong as grain leather and is nearly impossible to make water proof or even water resistant. Split leather is OK for some garments that do not require strength or integrity. Top grain leather is usually sanded down to remove any imperfections and then imprinted with imitation grain to give it a more uniform look.
The other side, full-grain leather, is considered the more premium product. Only full-grain leather is suitable for aniline dying, a process that relies exclusively on soluble vegetable dyes without covering the surface with a topcoat. The result: a rich, luxurious finish that retains the hide’s natural surface grain and achieves a unique patina over time.
Of course there are a lot more categorisations than this, which make understanding leather quite tricky, a regular terms used in the world of leather is ‘Italian Leather’. Commonly understood as a premium form of leather, you’d be forgiven for question whether it makes up a separate category of leather. Well the answer is both yes and no.
As with a lot of fashion and lifestyle goods, Italians just do things well. The best tanneries are in Italy, where centuries of experience and a commitment to using traditional dyes and tanning methods have given the country a reputation as the leading leather manufacturer in the world.
Bookblock use a variety of leather types for our leather products, leather stationary and leather notebooks & journals. Working with a large variety of producers combined with our in house manufacturing means that we are able to offer an unlimited range of leather options for your company or brand.