Understanding Quality Leather Goods and high quality manufacturing such as stitching, lining and the leather process will help you identify a true quality high-end product by Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Fendi as opposed to reproductions that look the same but are of lesser quality. After reading these hints you will see the differences between high quality treatments and those that will dry out, crack and show wear due to poor manufacturing techniques.
The tanning industry:
Modern tanneries use approximately 100 chemicals and almost 1,000 steps to produce quality leather from animal hides. All steps are recorded and signed. The two most popular tanning methods are vegetable tanning, using tannins from organic matter like nuts, tree bark and leaves. This is a specialty process and takes 1-3 months to completely process a piece of hide into finished leather. The second process is called Chromium or Chrome Tanning. This process is quicker and is used for leather intended to make shoes, handbags, clothes and upholstery.
The primary emphasis for a tannery is to control quality. Making the most consistent product is key. Grading leather is based on the number of imperfections found in areas of each hide, it’s intended use and is standardized by type. The prime area or butt is the most strictly evaluated. Other parts of the hide are the shoulder, belly and skirting.
Full grain leather is the highest graded
Top grain is second best quality
Corrected grain is not natural grain, imperfections have been sanded off and an applied grain is used
Split leather is from damaged thick leather that is sliced between layers and an artificial layer is added to strengthen the natural leather to prevent father cracking or splitting
Any defects such as scarring, brands, insect bites, deep stains or creases or wrinkles reduce the grade. Some leather manufacturers set a scale of four grades of leather quality, A, B, C, and D. Other manufacturers have grading systems of seven, nine or even 18 classifications, with nine price points. Even A Grade leathers have some imperfections.
Fine quality leathers:
Although cattle hides are most commonly used in leather manufacture, fashion houses like Hermes, Prada, Gucci and Louie Vuitton are currently using Ostrich leather for their handbags, footwear and clothing. Other specialty leathers are made from snakes, crocodiles, lamb and kangaroos.
When the proper steps are taken, lovely leather that is a joy to wear is the result. When manufacturers of low standards cut corners to save money, problems result. Fine leather becomes more pliable, softer and takes on a beautiful patina when worn. That’s how fine leather is different from low quality leather used for reproductions and knock-offs.
Hazards of poor quality tanning processes:
When standards are not upheld, cheap chemicals in the leather cause severe allergic skin rashes when worn against the skin. The toxins can remain in the leather and instead of becoming better with age, they crack, split, peal and show imperfections, sometimes in just a few weeks of use. Cheaper versions or imitations of popular designer styles will never perform the way the real designer products do. In this case that saying “You get what you pay for,” is absolutely true.