Grades Of Leather Goods

While it may seem inexpensive at first to purchase inexpensive leather goods you really do need to understand that they are graded, and that grade has a lot to do with the quality of your leather goods. Knowing the grades will allow you to select the best leather coat, leather furniture, or other leather goods and know the difference between a good deal, and a stinky deal.


Poor quality leather goods are going to smell when you first receive them, and can actually be really obnoxious when they're wet. It's important that you understand that not only the durability but the smell of leather can change with the quality or grade that you choose.

Most clothing or furniture is made from one of four different types or grades of leather. You'll find full grain, split grain, top grain, and bonded leather. The most expensive type of leather is usually your full grain leather. And you'll find the lowest prices on the bonded leather goods. Of course, suppleness also comes into play here and you'll want to understand how softness, as well as grade can affect the price of your leather goods.

While full grain leather is the most expensive type of leather, it's made from the outer layers of the animal hide. It is not processed a lot or sanded except to remove most of the hair. While this may preserve the beauty of the leather, as well as its natural markings, it can be rather stiff and less processed fully into suppleness. In other words, if you were to look for a leather coat, your full grain leather coat is going to be the most expensive. Especially as a full grain leather coat is going to have to be processed enough to be soft enough to be comfortable. You might find full grain leather coats available, but they may be stiff, smell when you wear them, or have abrasions in the hide. Make sure if you're looking for full grain leather coat that you are purchasing one of the highest quality.

Top grain leather is also fashion in the coats as well as into exotic imitation leather patterns. You'll often find top grain leather coats are slightly less expensive than full grain, but also can come in a variety of colors, patterns, and suppleness. Some of the types of patterns you may find are those of exotic animals such as alligator, snakeskin, and even ostrich skin. While you're not actually purchasing the skin of these types of animals, full grain leather can be made to look extremely similar.

Often, you'll see genuine leather coats on sale, usually this was made from split grain leather. This is the inner layer of the animal hide, and is not quite as durable as top grain leather, but is more durable than bonded leather.

Bonded leather is made from leather scraps that are sewn together. This type of leather became very inexpensive and fashionable a one-time in the late 80s and early 90s. It wasn't long until consumers realized that it really wasn't that great of leather products, and began to return to true leather goods made with quality leather.

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