What is Split Leather?


Understanding the types of leather that exist and are used in our everyday lives is very important. With this short article we will present you in greater detail what is split leather and how it is extracted and later used in the production of various products. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it.

[Good read: What is Genuine Leather]

When leather is processed to be turned into various products, the first step that has to happen is the leather has to be split. When a tanner first receives a hide, it could be anywhere from 5 to 10 millimeters thick. This leather is then split into the different layers called top grain, full grain, and split grain. The scraps that are left over are also turned into bonded leather using a lot of chemicals and pressing to combine the scraps into a solid piece of leather.

The top grain cut of the leather is the best split, and it is sent off to be dyed and used in high quality products. The remaining leather, or flesh side of the split, is then used to make split leather products or made into scraps for bonded leather products. Split leather is rough on both sides until one side is refinished and is also popularly known as suede which is used in many products.

Products Made out of Split Leather

You may not realize it, but there are many common products that are made out of split leather. One common use of split leather is in the making of leather work gloves. Split leather is a good product to make gloves out of because it has a high abrasion resistance. This means that the leather work gloves are more durable because they are able to stand up to any friction, rubbing, or wearing down. In addition, they have good flexibility in comparison to grain leather gloves that are a little bit more stiff.

Another common product that uses split leather are other types of clothing and shoes. Split leather is used to make cheaper leather clothing because it still has the leather feel to it but it is a much cheaper cut of leather. In addition, it is used to make all different types of shoes, from fancy dress shoes like Elvis’ Blue Suede Shoes, to sneakers, because it breathes well.

One final common product that uses split leather is in upholstery. Split leather is often used in couches or recliners as well as car interiors. A quality piece of furniture will not use split leather for the main body of the chair that gets a lot of contact like the backs, seats, or armrests. Instead, they will use it for the outside and back of the furniture, which won’t receive as much wear. In car upholstery, coated or embossed split leather is often used in luxury or lower end cars that claim to have a full leather trim. This leather trim in the doors or headrests is the lowest quality leather and the customer often pays extra for it.

Buyer Beware

If you are in the market for leather products like a leather purse, belt, or sofa that you will use on a regular basis, split leather is not the leather you want for these products. In addition, this leather is often disguised with an artificial grain coating or embossing that makes it look like real leather. While it seems to look like real leather, this coating and embossing can easily peel back to reveal the cheaper quality rough suede underneath.

We have prepared multiple guides about different types of leather like full grain, top grain, genuine leather or bonded leather. You can also read our quick guide on how to identify good quality leather bag, so you won’t waste your hard-earned money on fake things.

Final Thoughts

Knowing what is split leather will always come in handy, especially the next time you go shopping for a leather handbag or a leather briefcase. We as well have some models that were made from split leather, especially the bags for women. Because working with split leather is much easier and therefore allows producers to offer larger variety of different models. Even the biggest brands tend to avoid full grain leather completely, and go for the cheapest options out there. Split leather is multiple times less expensive than the top layer of an animal hide, and when top companies have a known brand name to stamp on a cheap purse, their margins go through the roof.

We, however, cannot compete with that, and tend to stick with the quality and authenticity of our bags. Therefore, you will find more models made out of full grain leather, and not the split leather.

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