If you are looking for a bag, made from genuine leather, it is always good to get familiar with the features of leather. Unfortunately, there are enough sellers who sell leatherette as the real deal. On the other side, those who imitate leather are getting smarter. Sometimes it can be hard for the layperson to decide what is genuine and what is imitated leather. In this short guide, we will give you five steps, that will help you the next time you are looking for a good quality leather bag.
Not every kind of leather is good leather.
Whenever you are looking for a leather bag, you will notice significant differences in the leather quality and the price.
Genuine leather is divided into three leather quality levels:
Full grain leather
Top grain leather
Full grain leather offers the best quality; therefore, it is more expensive, while split leather provides the worst quality; thus it is relatively cheap.
Another factor which is to consider when looking for a good quality bag is the label. Even the bag may have a label, classifying it as “genuine leather” this will give you no insight about how the animal was treated, fed as well as any insights about the fermentation process of the leather. The overall condition in which the animal was kept, has a direct connection to the quality of the leather bag you are looking for.
The term “genuine leather” likewise gives you no indication whether the bag is made from cow, sheep, lamb, etc. Always ask where the leather is coming from if there is no indication.
How can you be sure, if the bag you are looking at is made from real leather?
A genuine leather product has the corresponding label, which is a symbolic representation of a spread animal skin with the complimentary name of the manufacturer. You might find this label in the inside of the bag. If the label does not provide you with the name of the manufacturer, ask in the store or get more detailed information online.
How do I recognise my bag is from high-quality genuine leather
Unfortunately, if you are shopping online, then you do not have the advantage of smell. Leather has its own distinctive and pleasant smell, which cannot be imitated. On the other hand, imitated leather might have no smell at all or smells slightly like plastic.
The surface structures
Here again, if you are online shopping, you might be a little disadvantaged. However, many websites offer images, which you can zoom in. Take advantage from this feature, whenever you buy a leather bag online.
You recognise a good quality leather bag by its full grain. That means if you look closely you might discover minor natural imperfections. Those can be in the form of as cuts, insect bites, stretch marks and neck folds. However, do not dismiss these natural flaws as faults. They are a sign of excellent quality, as they verify the authenticity of the leather.
Synthetic leather on the other side is even structured and patterned. If you go over the bag with your hand, it may feel “unreal” or too smooth.
Real leather, especially full grain leather and top grain leather, feels warm and soft and have a comfortable grip. Synthetic leather, on the other hand, is smooth, rigid and cold.
High-quality full-grain leather develops over time a beautiful patina. Imitated leather, on the other hand, will retain or slightly fade in its colour.
Genuine leather has a fibrous structure at the edges, which consists of the protein-containing pores of the skin, whereas artificial leather has smooth edges. Although, do not be fooled, because that is one difference, which is difficult to recognise in processed leather.
The oil and water test
Genuine leather is a natural material. Therefore, can absorb water, fats and oils with the pores. Imitated leather you recognise, that a drop of water will run off, hardly able to be absorbed by the material.
Like with most all other products you buy, the price alone will not give you a reliable indication whether this leather bag is of good or not so good quality. Besides the excellent quality of the leather, the brand name of your bag plays a significant role in the price of the product. However, as a rule of the thumb, genuine, good quality leather is more expensive, than poor quality leather or even an imitation.
If you are buying a leather bag online, you definitely have the disadvantage of not being able to touch or smell the chosen bag. The advantage however is, you can check out many different online stores before you make your decision. Better ask one question too many then being disappointed with the bag, which comes in the post.
For the first-time leather online buyer, it would be advisable only to buy from reputable high quality, genuine leather bag distributer. At least until such time, you get a bit more experienced on how to distinguish good from low-quality leather.
If you are visiting a store, take your time. Look at the bags, ask questions, touch them, smell them. Allow yourself to be drawn in by the bag of your choice and buy only, when you are sure, all points for a good quality leather bag, really check out.