When it comes to luxury goods, there are very few materials that are of a better quality than genuine full grain leathers. The real question is, how is leather made and what makes the final product so high quality?
How Is Leather Made?
Leather hides can come from a number of animals but the most common sources of leather in the US are cows and buffalo.
There are several stages involved in the process that helps to transform what is essentially a by-product of meat consumption, into a usable and desirable luxury material that is used for bags, belts and plenty of other day-to-day wares.
In the first instance, most fresh hides will be soaked in salt to help clean and dry the material. This process can take several days.
Once soaked in sodium or salt mixture alternatives, leathers will be cleaned further in acidic solutions. This is the stage where imperfections are discovered and things like hairs are removed.
Once this initial cleaning process is finished, the next step is to split the hide into layers. These layers make up the different types of leather, with the high quality thick leathers sitting on top and some of the materials for thinner leathers like suedes coming from the bottom. Generally, better quality goods will be produced using full grain leather – the thicker, tougher surface layer.
With the material split, it’s time to clean it again and apply any dyes, treatments or tans that will contribute to the high-quality final product. Tanning is usually done in a couple of stages with an initial soak and then a secondary re-tanning to help strengthen the color. In the second round of tanning, conditioners may also be used to help keep the material looking fresh.
At this stage, the material can feel a bit tough and this makes the process of creating high quality leather bags a bit tricky. The leather is stretched and rolled to help ensure it is flexible enough to be used and this is an important stage of the process.
Once the leather is flexible, it may be polished or stained again to help achieve the desired aesthetic for the leather product.
What Makes Leather A Good Material?
Leather has got some really great qualities that make it an excellent material choice for a luxury product.
Full grain leather goods like bags and wallets are created using the strong top layer of the hide and this gives these products many of their durable qualities. Historically leather has been used for bags and even things like armor because it’s hard-wearing and strong. For heavy use items like messenger bags and travel bags, these qualities can be invaluable for keeping goods secure and protected.
Leather is, historically, a very fashionable material and one of its best qualities is that it’s a style that doesn’t really age. The material itself is extremely long lasting and the more worn or well-loved it becomes, the better it will typically look.
How To Care For Real Leather Products
Real leather goods can be extremely long-lasting. With the right care and cleaning, a good real leather bag or similar product can last for decades. For this reason, these luxury products can make brilliant gifts for loved ones.
Maintaining these high quality products (like leather bags) is quite simple. A soft damp cloth will be able to remove most dirt or dust and a good leather conditioner will maintain the texture and softness of the material. Try to avoid using tough brushes and strong chemicals to clean your real leather as this can damage the product.
To apply leather conditioner just add a small amount to a soft cloth and apply it in a small circular motion. We recommend this Kodiac leather conditioner to keep your real leather products looking fresh.
Leather has some natural water resistance but if your real leather bag gets very wet avoid drying it using heaters or radiators as this can cause it to lose its shape. Letting your bag dry naturally is the best way to maintain its quality.
Our Favorite Real Leather Bags
Now that you know the process of turning a hide into a high quality leather, it’s time to look at examples of these materials being turned into practical (and stylish) real leather bags.
We’ve chosen 5 of our favorites.
The Noir is a timeless and sophisticated messenger bag. The high quality black leather makes it stylish and long-lasting – perfect for a busy working man on a daily commute. You can ensure that all of your everyday essentials are protected and there is plenty of storage for everything you need.
You can’t go wrong with the classics.
The brief is the perfect real leather briefcase to show the world you mean business. This treated leather offers a slick finish to a practical product.
It has everything you need from a briefcase, including a small key lock so that you can ensure that all of your essential documents are kept safe.
Available in a couple of sizes, The Cambridge is the perfect commuter messenger bag. It has plenty of storage space for a laptop and any other daily essentials and is endlessly stylish in its design.
Not only does this bag make for an excellent work bag, but it’s also great for daily use. It’s designed to go with any outfit and is perfect for showing off your appreciation of high quality real leather goods.
With multiple color and size options available, The Classic is a stunning example of the excellent quality produced using top grain water buffalo leather. It is strong and durable and perfect for regular use.
A high quality bag like The Classic makes an excellent gift and can really stand the tests of time.
The Sitka is a gorgeous real leather bag with a rugged and natural leather finish. Available in light brown, dark brown and black, this bag is perfectly suited to any style and is a fashionable and practical addition to the wardrobe of the modern man.
Take a look at our full collection of high quality real leather bags.