Today, we’re looking at the different types of leather and how to care for them.
Leather is one of our most versatile natural resources; from hats to footwear, it can be easily cut, sewn and redesigned to offer the very best in weather protection, warmth and of course, style. Leather’s versatility comes down in part to the various techniques used to create each individual grade of leather.
Full Grain, Top Grain and Genuine leather…what’s the difference?
Full Grain Leather is the highest grade of leather, and refers to a leather which retains the most authentic feel following hair removal. This leather hasn’t been sanded or buffed to remove marks or imperfections on the hide, and therefore includes the entire thickness of the hide, adding to the durability. Due to the lack of buffing or sanding, this leather may also retain some of the growth marks, scratches or other small imperfections, which may show through to the finished product. This adds a gorgeous, rustic finish to the product, which is coveted for bags, boots and furniture in particular.
Top Grain Leather is the second highest quality leather, and is great for bags, shoes, and small leather goods. The top layer has been sanded down to remove any imperfections and to make the leather slightly more flexible and workable for the manufacturer. This leather has a smooth finish which reduces some of the breathability, however it does prevent any stains that could sink into untreated full grain leather.
Genuine Leather is the most well known and commonly used type of leather for more affordable leather products such as wallets and fashion shoes. This is created by bonding together off cuts of higher-grade leathers, then sanding and stamping the leather with a uniform grain. This is durable and affordable leather, and will still have a good life cycle.
Fairfax & Favor use Full Grain Leather for their Imperial Explorer boots to offer an aged, rustic look – perfect for the countryside!
Smooth, suede, or nubuck…which is best for me?
Smooth leather is easily cleaned, easy to protect and durable. It is great for work shoes, walking boots, handbags and wallets.
Suede leather is brushed to have a softer, more fashionable finish. It is warm, but needs proper care to protect it from the elements. It looks fantastic on boots, bags and wallets.
Nubuck leather has a softer, matte finish for a casual alternative to smooth leather. It looks great on trainers and casual shoes, as well as being used as a trim on boots and accessories to add style and contrast.
How to care for leather
There are lots of ways to care for leather, with each one being unique to the type of leather you want to protect. Generally, smooth leather requires a cream to keep the leather supple and to reduce cracking, while suede leather will need to be properly protected with a suede spray to allow water to bead off the boots or bag ensuring they stay in tip-top condition. Each manufacturer has their own specific care product recommendation, with many offering a product designed solely for their own boots, shoes and accessories. We always encourage our customers to use care products suggested by the brands to get the most out their items.