You finally found that perfect leather office chair, couch, bag, or belt. It’s gorgeous, well-made, and appears sturdy enough to handle your lifestyle.
You notice the genuine leather stamp on the inside and are certain of its authenticity. So, you buy the bauble unaware of the truth. After all, it’s real leather, right?
So, is genuine leather real leather?
Well, sort of.
Genuine leather does contain real leather, but it also comprises other materials. This means it makes it a lower quality leather than full grain or top grain leather. So, that new office chair, couch, belt, or bag you bought may not be as top-notch as you perceived.
If you’ve ever made this mistake, you’re not alone.
The name “genuine leather” is misleading and most people haven’t thought about the subject deep enough to know there’s a difference.
Unfortunately, many sales clerks know this and often take advantage of the gullibility.
What Is Pure Leather?
For leather to be pure it must be 100% animal rawhide and skin. This is durable and you can recognize its authenticity by its scent.
The other indicator is the price. Pure leather items tend to be more expensive than genuine leather ones.
There are two main types of pure leather:
- Full Grain: Considered the highest quality leather available. The whole piece entirely comprises tanned animal skin and is the real-deal.
- Top Grain: One grade below full grain leather, top grain comes sanded down and stamped with a faux grain. While this is also high quality, it costs a little less than full grain.
Learn more about Top Grain leather:
What Is Genuine Leather?
The word “genuine” is actually a grade classification of leather and is the lowest one available. Although it does contain real leather, it’s not 100% pure leather in the same way as full or top grain. Unfortunately, the name is misleading to the unsuspecting consumer.
When a leather garment or accessory is affordable and readily available, chances are, it’s genuine leather. The other materials that go into producing the fabric are less expensive than pure leather types, which makes it more affordable to purchase.
What’s more, genuine leather comprises scrap leather pieces removed from top-grain and full-grain leather items. But, these leftover scraps make for excellent chairs, purses, wallets, belts, handbags, shoes and so much more.
How Do You Distinguish Genuine from Pure Leather?
Savvy consumers understand that these higher-quality leathers have three easy-to-identify main layers. This will come in handy when you’re trying to decipher if someone is trying to con you during a sale. They are as follows:
- Grain: This is the outermost layer and often the one that’s visible. It’s the strongest part because the fibers are tightly woven and dense.
- Junction: This sits in the center and, as the name suggests, sandwiches between the grain and suede layers. The leather starts softening here.
- Suede (Split): This is the soft, innermost layer of the hide but also the weakest. Jackets made of leather will have this layer closest to the skin.
What Are Some Tips for Deciphering Between Pure and Genuine Leather at the Store?
When you’re in front of a salesman, there are a couple of tips to keep in mind. This will help you to understand what they’re trying to sell you in relation to the price.
First, there should be a stamp indicating full-grain, top-grain, or genuine leather. However, not all manufacturers will have it. That said, brands that stand by their product will put it there. If you see top-grain, play the role of the dummy. Ask the sales clerk about it and pay attention to what they say.
If they try to convince you it’s pure leather, the item’s price may be exorbitant. In which case, this guy is taking you for a ride. But, if they detail the nuances and variations of leather, then you can fairly gauge you’re getting a decent price.
So, even though genuine leather contains real leather, that’s not the truth. It’s actually the lowest grade available and thus, the lowest quality. The other two are full-grain, which is the best, and top grain, which is slightly below full. Genuine leather comprises other materials along with scraps from other high-quality production.