Leather 101

We only use top-grain leather for all of our handcrafted leather goods.  Top-grain is the “top” cut of the cowhide.  When the cowhide is sliced into two layers it produces a top cut and a bottom cut (where suede comes from).  The top cut is the strongest and most valued part of the cowhide.  Now, full-grain is a type of top-grain leather where the top hasn’t been altered in any way except for the removal of hair.  Full-grain is exactly how the grain appeared during the tanning process.  Natural markings such as scratches, stretch marks, and brands are visible and gives that signature leather look that will form a patina and unique character over time. 

The biggest difference between top-grain and full-grain is how they age and wear over time.  Full-grain leather will show the “wear” of the leather and for many this is what makes full-grain desirable.  Top-grain and full-grain are both made from the top cut of the hide but they are used to make different leather goods.  Most of our totes and small leather goods are made with full-grain while most of our hobos tend to be top grain.  Typical top-grain leather will have its surface buffed and sanded on both sides then the surface will be further pigmented creating a richly colored and long lasting leather.  This type of leather will not have any scars or blemishes and will be smooth and uniform.  The pigmentation process will create a leather that is much more resistant to water and stains.  For example, a bead of water on the surface of top-grain will roll off while water on full-grain will absorb into the leather because it is much more porous.

So while all of our leather is top-grain, most of our products are also full-grain with the exception of our hobos and some smaller accessories.  Both are extremely durable so it comes down to personal preference.  Either way you can’t go wrong as both will bring years of use and durability.