Leather type is one of the indicators of handbag quality. Understanding the differences among types of leather gives assurance you are making an informed decision, especially when buying leather bags online. In our recent post about Leather Properties we talk about general characteristics of bags made of real leather. In this article we will explain the details of Full Grain Leather, Top Grain Leather, Genuine Leather and Bonded Leather.

Generally, womens handbags are sawn from cowhide (or calf leather) which is sliced into 2 or 3 layers using a high precision splitting machine: top, middle and bottom. Two top grained layers are the highest quality, with natural patterns of the skin showing on the surface. The bottom layers without a grain texture can be turned into suede or have an artificial grain surface applied.

1. Full Grain Leather

This leather is the best quality leather and consequently the most expensive for craftsmen to buy. Full Grain leather is thick, tough, gets better with age and comes with a story. Because the top layer is still on the hide, you can usually see natural veins or blemishes of the cow or any scarring that happened during their lifetime (insect bites, scratching on barbed wire, etc). These natural markings add to the natural character of full grain leather and contribute to the beautiful patina over time.


2. Top Grain Leather

Second highest grade of leather comes from the top of the hide, with several millimetres being removed from the surface in order to eliminate imperfections such as scars, veins and brands. It has a uniform, smooth finish and is thinner and more workable than full grain leather. Leather bags made of top grain leather are more uniform in colour, strong and durable but the top layer, which is the strongest vertical fibers, has been sanded away. VIVER bags are crafted from Top Grain Leather.


3. Genuine Leather

Genuine leather is made from the layers of cowhide that remains after the top is split for the higher grades. It is thinner than Top Grain leather and is often used in leather bags with elaborate detailing. Genuine Leather is the 3rd tier of leather quality and technically means a percentage of leather in a product, rather than a product made of real leather. Genuine leather products are less dear and not as durable as bags made of Full Grain or Top Grain Leather.


4. Bonded Leather

The last of the 4 grades, bonded leather is made by gluing scraps of leather together and embossing with a leather-like texture. Bonded leather also can be called “reconstituted leather” or “blended leather”. Significantly cheaper than any of the other grades, bonded leather can be manufactured to look like a more expensive leather type but quickly degrades as it is used. Bonded leather is often used in fast fashion leather bags, however it is nowhere as durable and premium as luxury leather bags made of higher grades leather types.

Generally, there is a difference in quality of a bag purchased through a brand boutique vs the bag bought in a brand outlet, even if both are made by the same company. Cheaper versions of luxury bag brands are usually made from less precious leather and do not hold value over time. If you value the quality that lasts, then buying a high quality leather bag is a smart investment.

Happy Shopping!


This article was prepared by Viver Leather. Copyright reserved.