When we call ourselves ‘Niche’ Leather, we mean it!
Not all leather is created equal.
You might have entered a big box retailer and seen, touched, felt and smelt a variety of leather goods. However, as with any product, it is essential to remember the phrase, ‘you get what you pay for’ when settling for many commercial leather products.
All our leather is full grain leather and vegetable tanned.
Full-grain leather, is undoubtedly the highest-quality grade of leather and the most expensive leather to procure. It comes from the hide’s top layer and includes the full, natural grain. It is not sanded or buffed in any manner to remove imperfections, which imparts durability and strength. Full-grain leather is easily the most expensive grade of leather to manufacture ( as it involves time), often making it the most expensive leather for the final consumer to purchase.
And you would be mistaken if you thought it is just durability that we are after. The top-most hide is always unique. It may or may not have slight imperfections that have developed over the course of the animal’s life. We believe this enhance the beauty of the product and extends the animals story
Read about Leather in our blog here at leisure.
Apart from the animal from which the leather is derived , leather is distinguished primarily by two factors:
- The layer of the animal hide it is derived from:
- Full Grain
Full grain refers to the full, unadulterated hide in its natural form with all of its layers intact which guarantees oodles of character! Simply put, full grain leather is the real deal, the best you can get. Leather is simply at its best in terms of strength, beauty, richness, depth and character when it is a full grain leather.
Full grain leather also allows the natural marbling, texture and variety of colour in the hide to come through fully.
Full-grain leather is the most expensive grade of leather to manufacture, often making it the most expensive leather grade for consumers to purchase but is worth it for leather lovers.
And yeah …if you are a leather lover you will love the way your leather develops patina over time. And no….patina doesn’t mean leather is worn out, patina in full grain leather is akin to what ageing is to wine. This the leather that you can treasure for your life and pass it along to next generation.
- Top Grain
We believe this is the next best alternative to Full grain leather.
The term top grain leather usually refers to the top layer of the cowhide that has been minimally altered, perhaps sanded down a bit to hide imperfections.
So does this matter? It does , as the hide often loses some strength and certainly loses character as you do not see the leather surface in its original natural state with its imperfections. Yes we believe the adage that too much perfection could be boring 🙂
For example , if the cow ran into a barbed wire fence or developed folds in skin over time or had insect bites, you will see that on the hide . The hide will tell its story rather than thousands of identical looking leather products which have all been robbed of this identity .
- Genuine Leather
Genuine leather is the industry term for basically anything that is technically leather. It is also perhaps the best-kept secret in the industry. Unfortunately, the vast majority of consumers still believe genuine leather is the “best” or at least a premium product that warrants a higher price. The opposite is often the case.
Genuine leather just means “technically leather”. Basically it is not a synthetic product or faux leather. But think about that. What is leather? It could basically mean any animal hide – pig leather, goat leather, etc and also discarded scraps of reconstituted leather with the help of layers of chemicals can be called as “genuine leather.”
It’s ironical that many people shell out top dollar for an arguably lower quality product because of the ‘perception’ the phrase ‘genuine leather’ carries
- Tanning Process
- Vegetable Tanned
This kind of leather is called “vegetable-tanned ” because of the natural materials used in the tanning process like tree bark, leaves or berries, alongside mineral & fish oils . Vegetable tanning or veg tan as it’s sometimes called, is one of the oldest methods of tanning known to man. It’s literally been around for centuries. It takes up to 6+ weeks or more to complete the veg tan process, relatively more time consuming indeed and the end product is a labour of time and love. It doesn’t surprise us that less than the world’s 10% leather is tanned this way today.
The color of our leather used in our products is derived from naturally occurring tree bark tannins and finished with a basic wax. Different tannins result in different colors, but there is often a limit to the colours and textures that can be produced in vegetable tanned leathers. Vegetable tanned leather starts out firm and hard but the more you use it, the more it softens.
We are huge fans of letting materials speak for themselves: hence, the veggie tan in the most natural state possible for leather and also the most environmentally friendly way of manufacturing leather products.
Some advantages of vegetable tanned leather are :
- Patina: this is the main thing that happens and all of the below contributes to the patina. A patina is a soft sheen that appears on the surface which is a result of the ageing process. Honestly, once you use the leather the feel/texture of it is lovely! Retain shape better : Veg tanned leather can be made thicker and have more body and character than straight chrome tanned leather. This helps leather goods maintain their shape.
- Colour: more pronounced on lighter colours and most definitely on un dyed vegetable tanned leather, the colour will darken and you can also start to get tonal differences.
- Softens with use: vegetable tanned leather starts out firm and hard but the more you use it, the more it softens.
- Warmth of your touch: every time you touch the leather, the warmth from you hand will add to the ageing process and patina. This leather is affected by different temperatures.
- Scratches: if you bring a sharp object against it, it will take on the scratch. If you scratch your nails against the surface, it will mark. This is part and parcel of using this leather.
- Smaller colour palette and not as vibrant: Vegetable tanned leather tends to have a more limited colour palette which have more muted tones.
- Environmentally friendly to manufacture- Do we really need another reason ?
- Ages Better : Vegetable tanned leather develops a rich character and patina over time, makes the owner in love with the product
- Indulges the senses : Vegetable tanned leather has that classic leather smell that is absolutely intoxicating and addictive. You’ll know it when you smell it.
- Retain shape better : Veg tanned leather can be made thicker and have more body and character than straight chrome tanned leather. This helps leather goods maintain their shape.
The market is full of highly chemically treated leathers ( also called Chrome-tanned leathers ) these leathers can come in a variety of colours and textures .
Know this when you encounter leather items that seem ‘affordable’: most leather used commercially is NOT vegetable tanned leather, but is Chrome-tanned leather precisely because it caters to fast fashion and affordability .Chrome-tanned leather is quite likely to be dangerous and toxic to produce and often sourced from countries where labour and environmental regulations leave a lot to be desired . Instead of the natural earthy smell of veg tanned leather, chrome tanned leather often carries permanent chemical smell.
Another reason for popularity of chrome tanned leather is that it is softer, thinner and more pliable leather and has better water repellent characteristics . This serves well in the boots, gloves and industrial sectors. They can also can be virtually dyed in any colour one can imagine.
Perhaps the best way to think of the difference between a chrome and vegetable tanned leather is to think of the difference between a leather glove and a leather saddle.