The Three Types of Real Leather

What Is The Difference?

Have you ever looked at the inner surface of a leather clothing item or other good, for instance the underside of a belt? If you check, you’ll see that its leather quality is inscribed as either genuine, top-grain or full-grain leather.

Have you ever wondered what the exact meaning of these three could be? If you’re fond of leather-made items such as wallets, briefcases, belts, jackets, handbags or shoes, then you better understand these three stampings because they’ll affect the quality of what you’re buying. Simply put, it’s worth knowing what exactly to look for when buying your fancied leather products.


1) Genuine Leather

When you buy something inscribed with a “genuine leather” label, unless you’ve been duped by unscrupulous businesspeople in the black market, then it’s truly genuine leather. BUT that’s not the only thing: this particular stamping also signifies that the item is the lowest quality of goods manufactured using real leather.

Holding all factors of use constant vis-à-vis other leather goods, such a product will not be as long-lasting or as good-looking as those that are made out of higher-quality leather. Typically, such labels will be found on leather shoes sold in department stores of lower price ranges, lower-priced real leather handbags, belts or jackets, etc.

Usually, products labelled as genuine leather are actually many layers of lower-quality leather glued together and then painted nicely to have the appearance of higher-quality leather. Genuine leather is what’s left over once better grades of real leather are stripped off natural hide.

When you’re purchasing a cheap product whose quality and durability you don’t mind too much about, then genuine leather is just good enough for your needs. Since genuine leather goods last significantly less time than higher grades of leather, the item you buy in this category should be something you don’t use quite often if you want some durability.

NBD Leather does not supply “Genuine Leather”


2) Top-Grain Leather

Top-grain leather refers to the midway leather quality grade used to manufacture “fine” real leather goods, one level above “genuine leather” goods but still below full-grain leather. Apart from being the leather grade that’s used to make most leather purses used by ladies, it’s also the one used in small leather products for men such as those wallets sold by some of the most renowned designer brands on the globe.

This quality level comes out of the process of splitting full-grain leather, sanding away any small flaws and imperfections that may be found on natural hide, before finally being stamped with a fake grain.

Often, top-grain leather is also treated and colored so as to come up with a product that has a fully uniform appearance, making the end product look a bit plastic-y.

Top-grain leather items don’t last as long as full-grain leather ones. After some time of use, goods in this category of real leather end up looking a bit old and worn out than those made using the best quality full-grain leather.

If you’re looking to buy something that you don’t mind as much about durability as items made from full-grain leather, a top-grain finish is great, especially if you mind more about color and stain resistance.


3) Full-Grain Leather

This grade is the highest quality leather that uses the entire grain of natural hide, including all its natural flaws and inherent toughness. Although full-grain leather is typically used to make heavy-duty leather products such as utility belts or weapon holsters, it’s not uncommon to find dress belts, work boots, dress shoes, briefcases or high-grade wallets made out of this leather type.

While some goods display natural markings and skin flaws such as a scar or a branding from the animal where the hide was extracted, pricier brands often avoid hides with such imperfections and blemishes.

Full-grain leather is extremely tough, and as it gets older, it develops a rich patina that makes it look more and more appealing with use. It’s the best-quality leather that money can buy, and pays dividends with its unmatched durability. If you want to have an item that can last your entire lifetime, then this is the grade of leather to invest your money in.


In conclusion, as much as possible, it’s recommended that you avoid those leathers that are described as bonded (leather scraps glued together into a single piece), patent (treated with a glossy plastic-y finish) or corrected-grain (lower-quality grade of leather that’s printed with a fake grain).

Full Grain Leather


This article is considered to be on the high end of quality, feel, and finish. This article is perfected in three colors, burgundy, chocolate, and cream.

Top Grain Leather


The Aftermarket. This article was created with utmost durability in mind, without sacrificing beauty and style.


Every day elegance and class, this article is finished in pigment with a protective layer for exceptional protection and durability.

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