The “genuine leather” name does not mean great leather – it just means there’s some leather in the material. In this article, we’ll look at how genuine leather is made, how it stacks up against other types of leather and how to take care of your genuine leather products.
In many cases, genuine leather is actually split leather. That means that the lower (inner) layers of the hide are stripped off. The outer, higher-quality parts are “top grain”. The ability to take multiple layers from one hide depends on the thickness of the skin. Some skins, like cow, are often able to be split into various levels. Genuine leather can come from the intermediate layers – between top grain and suede. That’s in term of position in the hide – not in terms of quality. The most popular genuine leathers for upholstered furniture are grain leather, aniline dyed leather and vintage leather.
● Standard Grain Leather
95% of the worlds leather is classified as Standard Grain leather also known as “Grain Corrected” leather. Grain corrected “genuine leather” is the most common and moderate priced leather for furniture and footwear. It is produced using hides that require what the industry terms, “Grain Correction”. Standard is topical dyed, meaning the color is applied over the top of the leather. The color does not go all the way through the leather. Grain Correction, is a process in which various areas of the raw leather which contain imperfections in appearance are coated with polymer and then an artificial grain is stamped, thus “correcting the grain”.
● Top Grain Aniline Leather
A small percent of the world’s leather supply is of high enough quality for 100% Top Grain Aniline upholstered furniture. Aniline Dyeing is the process of soaking the hides in transparent aniline dyes which allows color to absorb into the natural hide. Top Grain Aniline leather is then topical stain protected to minimize liquid absorption during every day use but does not require imitation grain stamping methods which imprint a Faux grain over the majority of the leather surface. Without all the synthetic topical coatings, it breathes naturally making it comfortable for seating. It is soft, supple, durable and pliable, maintaining the characteristics of pure leather.
● Vintage Style Leather
Aniline dyed leathers have little or no pigment coating and with use, to a buttery soft feel that is commonly associated with raw leather. The vintage leathers involve an initial process of aniline vat dying. During the vat dying process, the color penetrates the fibers of the leather through to the back. There are no corrections made to the epidermis as only the cleanest top shelf Italian hides are used. After dye curing, the hides then spends days undergoing an age old manual hand buffing, finishing and distressing process. The end result is a beautifully worn, comfortable with natural tonal variations and age distressing that breathes well. Over time the leather surface does not wear out but ages gracefully as it continues to patina with use.