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What is The Difference Between Full-Grain Leather, Top Grain Leather and Genuine Leather?

When you are planning to buy leather bags you will found there are top grain leather, full-grain leather, crazy horse leather and genuine leather on the market, and their price is different. Do you know what's the difference between them? If you don't know these, you can read this guide that can help you buy your favorite leather bags. We will start at the top of the chain when it comes to grading a hide.

Leather is a durable and flexible material created by tanning animal rawhide and skins. Most leather today is taken from cows because of their size, availability, and exceptional quality of the leather(most Luke Case's leather bags are made of cowhide).

From the image, cowhide can be broadly divided into the outer ‘grain’ and the inner 'corium'. This gives us our first division into full/top grain leather and split leather, which is made from fibrous corium. We also can say full/top grain leather is the first layer of cowhide leather.

What's full-grain leather?

Full-grain leather is the first layer of grain leather(outer layer of the cowhide), it is the best and highest grade grain, of course, its price is more expensive than other leathers. Full-Grain leather means that the original grain of the leather has not been altered in any way. Full-Grain leather is exactly how the grain appeared during the tanning process.  You often see the crazy horse leather is full-grain leather. Okay, we said full-grain leather is the best leather and more expensive, but why?

Here are the full-grain leather's characteristics:

  1. Unique and luxurious appearance: the fact full-grain leather is made from the top layer of the hide keeps all the marks and scars the animal had. This means your piece will be original and beautiful.
  2. Ages beautifully: full-grain leather is the only kind of leather that becomes more beautiful over time. It might be where you want to invest to ensure your piece won’t spoil in time.
  3. Toughest, strongest, most resilient leather available: The vertical fibers of this part of the hide are what provide this benefit to full-grain leather. It won’t crack, tear, puncture, or peel; and the grain pattern is firm and moisture-resistant.
  4. Develops a patina- as full-grain leather ages, it develops a change in color (a.k.a patina). This is a desired characteristic in leather.
  5. Low maintenance- full-grain leather is fairly easy to care for. We recommend simply wiping your bag down with a cloth every now and then, to prevent dust and dirt from building up.

Shop Luke Case Full Grain Bags:

What is top-grain leather?

Top-grain leather has the second-highest leather quality of the high-end category of leather products. It is made of the second layer of grain and the first layer of the corium. The term top grain leather usually refers to the top layer of the cowhide that has been minimally altered. Top grain leather is similar to full-grain leather, except that the top couple millimeters have been sanded and buffed to take away imperfections.

With the top layer removed, the leather will have a more uniform finish, but it won't be as durable and it will break down much faster. Also, it develops a pinna that protects it from damage and corrosion making it last longer. It has better stain resistance and is less expensive than full-grain leather. Many people prefer buying this type of leather as it is durable and readily available.

What is genuine leather?

Genuine leather is made from the junction of grain and corium, genuine leather means that the product is made of real leather, genuine leather products are the lowest in quality. Basically, you should read it as: "At least it's genuine leather.".

These products are made from leftover leather after the high-end products are made. The products manufactured from it do not look or feel as pleasing compared to those made from high-quality leather. Likewise, products made from genuine leather do not last as long before they wear out. However, most people can afford this type of leather product as they are widely available. This grade of leather is acceptable if you're just buying something cheaply and don't care too much about its quality.

Full-grain leather and top grain leather are also expensive, so you need to take good care of them, here is a guide on "how to care for your leather bags".

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