THE ULTIMATE SECRETS FOR BUYING THE RIGHT LEATHER PRODUCTS
How many times have you wanted to buy a leather product but did not know what was its quality?
Have you ever felt that the shoes you received at home looked like plastic?
Yes, it happened to me too.
Buying a pair of shoes,a bag or a wallet is quite easy, but when it’s a leather
product it becomes a little more complicated. You have to know these secrets
that will guide you to choose and buy the right product
1. Type of Leather Used
Like shoes, bag, and wallet, etc. it’s a top-quality leather that makes it looks more fantastic after years and years of use. The best leathers develop an attractive patina – a weathered, sheeny look which a material gets through aging. The higher the quality, the better the patina. It’s not something you’ll get with heavily treated leather or other lesser grades. Avoid shoes, bag, and wallet, etc. that are made of bonded leather, Beware – they come at low prices but are not value for money.
The leathers used shoes, bags, and wallet, aren’t prepared the same way. You need to know the differences between two major tanning processes.
(1) Chrome tanning process: Involves chromium and other harsh chemicals. It’s finished in a couple of days – which is why their products are always cheap. Chrome tanned leather accounts for about 90% of the leather market.
(2) Vegetable tanned leather: Is produced in an eco-friendly way, unlike chrome tanned leather. The term “vegetable” refers to the natural materials that are used in the process (such as tree bark).
Since the entire process is longer, most vegetable tanned leather products tend to be thicker and stiffer than chrome tanned leather ones (but get softer eventually when the leather breaks in). That’s why vegetable tanning works best for higher end shoes, bag, and wallet etc. The leathers are superior to their chrome tanning counterparts in character, durability and holding ability. They’re known for their classic leather smell as well as excellent patina.
3. Durability & Handwork
The best leather shoes, bag, and wallet, etc.come from the most durable leathers. They’re professional works of art – it’s not just about putting different parts together.
Two things have to be involved:
(1) A careful selection of leather
(2) Precise stitching.
Here’s a breakdown of the common leather colors and the environment for each one: black, dark brown, tan and light brown.
Black and dark brown are best suited for professional environments. They project a sense of authority and power. Tan and lighter brown go well with a more casual or relaxed working atmosphere.
The most formal option is black, as it complements suits of all colors. But keep in mind that dark brown (chocolate) leather is another perfect choice. This color can stay very elegant and classy even after a decade.
What is a "Genuine Leather"?
If you are in the market for a leather shoes, bag, or wallet, etc. And the label reads "Genuine Leather," this is means the product is a higher quality made out of real leather. Genuine leather last long and look nice as higher quality leather. You'll typically find it in shoes, bag, or wallet, etc. from mall stores, shoes from higher-priced department stores, and in the higher-leather price range. This grade of leather is acceptable if it’s about quality, so it probably should be something you use every day. Genuine leather is used in the vast majority of shoes, bag, or wallet for men, purses for women that are sold by well-known designer brands.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LEATHER
1. Bicast Leather:
(also known as bi-cast leather, bycast leather, sometimes described as split leather) is a material made with a split leather backing covered with a layer of polyurethane that is applied to the surface and then embossed. Such purely synthetic materials are called PU leather (short for "polyurethane leather") or vegan leather.
Because it is only used for the backing, the leather portion of this material is generally not visible in finished goods made from bicast. Bicast was originally made for the Apparel industry for glossy shoes, and more recently was adopted by the Furniture industry. The resulting product has an artificially consistent texture that is easier to clean and maintain, as is the case with most plastic materials.
When used for footwear, it cannot be considered equal to conventional leather as it lacks the strength, breatheability, and durability of the natural product. Production of synthetic, artificial/faux "leathers" has evolved so that a shell coating layer is applied on top of a synthetic polymer blend, so the definition of "synthetic", "artificial/faux" leather methods of production no longer necessarily requires composite leather blends of (coated) raw-tanned cowhide grains or its fibrous layers.
2. Suede Leather:
Is a type of with a napped finish, commonly used for jackets, shoes, shirts, purses, furniture and other items. Suede is made from the underside of the animal skin, which is softer and more pliable than, though not as durable as, the outer "skin" layer. Suede leather is made from the underside of the skin, primarily from lamb, although goat, calf and deer are commonly used. Splits from thick hides of cow and deer are also sueded, but, due to the fiber content, have a shaggy nap. Because suede does not include the tough exterior skin layer, suede is less durable but softer than standard leather. Its softness, thinness, and pliability make it suitable for clothing and delicate uses; suede was originally used for women's gloves, thus its etymology. Suede leather is also popular in upholstery, shoes, bags, and other accessories, and as a lining for other leather products.
3. Nubuck Leather:
Is a top-grain cattle leather
that has been sanded or buffed on the grain side, or outside, to give a slight nap of short protein fibers, producing a velvet-like surface. It is resistant to wear, and may be white or cultured. Nubuck is similar to suede, but is created from the outer side of a hide, giving it more strength and thickness and a fine grain. It is generally more expensive than suede, and must be cultured or dyed heavily to cover up the sanding and stamping process. Nubuck characteristics are similar to aniline leather. It is soft to the touch, scratches easily, and water drops darken it temporarily (it dries to its original color).
4. Ultrasuede Leather:
Is the trade name for a synthetic microfiber fabric invented in 1970 by Dr. Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist working for Toray Industries. In Japan it is sold under the brand name Ecsaine. It's an ultra-microfiber. It is often described as an artificial substitute for suede leather. The fabric is multifunctional: it is used in fashion, interior decorating, automotive and other vehicle upholstery, and industrial applications, such as protective fabric for electronic equipment. It is also a very popular fabric in the manufacture of footbags (also known as hacky sacks) and juggling balls. Other manufacturers such as Sensuede and Majilite also produce similar product lines of synthetic microfiber suede construction.
5. Artificial Leather:
Is a fabric or finish intended to substitute for leather in fields such as upholstery, clothing, footwear and fabrics and other uses where a leather-like finish is required but the actual material is cost-prohibitive, unsuitable, or unusable for ethical reasons.
Production of synthetic, artificial/faux "leathers" has recently evolved so that a shell coating layer goes on top of a synthetic polymer blend, so the definition of "synthetic", "artificial/faux" leather methods of production no longer necessarily requires composite leather blends of [coated] raw-tanned cowhide grains and/or its fibrous layers.
6. Alcantara Leather:
Is a covering microfiber material manufactured and marketed by Alcantara S.p.A. It is primarily used in the design, fashion, accessories, consumer electronics, automotive and marine industries. The material was developed in the early 1970s by Miyoshi Okamoto, a scientist working for the Japanese chemical company Toray Industries. It was based on the same technology as another product from the same company named Ultrasuede. Around 1972, a joint venture between Italian chemical company ENI and Toray formed Alcantara SpA in order to manufacture and distribute the material. The company is now owned by Toray and Mitsui. Alcantara is produced by combining an advanced spinning process (producing very low denier bi-component "islands in the sea" fibre) and chemical and textile production processes (needle punching, buffing, impregnation, extraction, finishing, dyeing, etc.) which interact with each other.
7. Bonded Leather:
The next step down in quality is bonded leather. This has many applications as well. Bonded leather is to leather what particle board is to wood. Particle board comes from waste wood products sprayed with liquid resin or glue so they can be used in place of more expensive wood to create products like shelving or inexpensive furniture. Likewise, bonded leather comes from the collected waste products of leather processing, reconstituted to create a less expensive alternative to better leather. Bonded leather is also embossed with natural leather-like texture to give it more appeal. Many affordably priced Bibles, book bindings, diaries, photo albums, and slim pocket agendas are made of bonded leather.
When you buy something made of leather, I recommend that you ask the sales associate to tell you what kind of leather it is. If they can't say this with confidence, you might ask to speak to another associate with more product knowledge. If none of the associates can tell you, you may be in the wrong store. Training is readily available in our industry, as the Travel Goods Association (TGA) provides a comprehensive course that allows a sales associate to become a product expert.