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Buying Leather Online | Things To Consider

05/08/2022 | Syed Mohsin Hasan

While shopping leather on the internet, you come across many different terms for denoting leather that’s been used in manufacturing a leather bag, jacket or accessory. If you surf leather online quite frequently, you must be very familiar with the term genuine leather. There are endless brands and platforms out there that offer mouthwatering pricing on a leather jacket or wallet made with genuine leather. A glossy leather product that’s attractive to the eye and is very affordable as well. But the secret lies in the fact that the term ` Genuine Leather` is a rather deceptive one used across the leather industry to identify with all sorts of low grade/low quality leathers or products that have some leather used in their manufacturing to call them leather goods.

And this is just the beginning on your road to acquiring further information on different types of leather terms you normally come across while buying leather goods online. We will try and make this an interesting journey for you.

Full Grain Leather vs Top Grain Leather – How They Are Different

Contrary to the term – `Genuine Leather` which isn`t exactly what it denotes, as explained earlier, Full grain leather or top grain leather are the terms you should be searching for if you want goods made in best quality original leather. Here`s why one is called full grain and the other top grain.

Grain Detail & Thickness

Full grain leather is the upper most part of a leather hide with the most natural grain detail as its not been sanded or buffed for smoothness in surface. Top grain leather on the other hand is achieved by evening out the upper most grain detail of a leather hide. It`s smoother and easier to work with as compared to full grain leather which is the toughest and the highest grade of a leather hide.

If we consider leather grade synonymously with thickness here, for discussion purposes, Full grain leather is the highest grade and quality of leather. It has all the natural grain fiber of the skin that’s under the hair, intact. Top grain leather on the other hand, has the upper most layer of the skin removed to give it a more uniformed look. Its more flexible, compared to full grain leather and easier to work with.


With consistent use, traces of marks and scratches accumulated on the skin during an animal`s life appear on products made with full grain leather, enhancing their character and giving them a unique vintage look. Top grain leather does not carry the natural blemishes and marks acquired on the skin during an animal`s life as the top most fiber has been buffed away which makes us arrive at a more uniformed surface.

As full grain leather ages, it develops a unique natural patina that tells the story of what this piece of leather has gone through overtime. More simply explained, full grain leather ages beautifully into a timeless classic rather than something that appears worn out.

Top grain leather doesn’t experience the same timeless ageing in the long run. If you`re not one for the vintage market and love polished, uniformed leather goods, top grain leather is the one you should wish to go for.

Toughness & Durability

Reference to the upper most fibers of a leather hide that are the most sturdiest, full grain leather is the most durable, leather can get. This does not mean that top grain leather is not durable. It`s also a very good grade and quality of leather but one that comes second in terms of durability as compared to the amazingly strong full grain leather. If you want to experience real durability of leather and a long lasting product that stands the test of time, full grain leather and top grain leather are ideal materials for you to type along with product type in that search bar of your search engine.

Grain Detail Of Leather

What Grade Is Genuine Leather And Why Is It So Popular Online?

Genuine leather is one of the lowest grades of original leather. It`s the weakest grade that lies at the bottom of the hide after top layers are shaved and removed. However, its popular among many manufacturers as its still real leather that’s not too costly and easier to work with. With dyes, polishes and embossing, you can still manage to get a product that looks highly attractive on the outside and with `Genuine Leather` attached to it, communicates all the right vibes to a prospective buyer visiting an E-Commerce store to buy his favorite leather good.

Veg Tan vs Chrome Tan Leather

Two very popular terms that online audience often comes across when searching leather goods are veg tan leather and chrome tan leather. Put simply, veg tan is a costlier more high end tanning process of leather where plant based tanning agents are used. It’s a time consuming tanning process that produces high quality leather. Chrome tanning uses chromium based tanning agents to tan leather. This process can produce greater quantities of tanned leather in much less time, compared to veg tan process which is a slower process for tanning leather.

Aniline Leather, Semi Aniline Leather, Pull Up Leather

Dyeing is part of the overall tanning process where dyes are used to apply colors on a leather hide. Aniline leather, semi aniline leather & pull up leather refer to specially dyed leathers where aniline based soluble dyes have been used to apply color to leather with some minor differences between them in further finish to leather, giving each leather, unique distinctive effects for e.g. Pull up leather has additional wax/oil applied to it for a unique distressed effect.

Aniline finish applies color and finish in such a way that the leather is able to retain its natural blemishes and marks. High quality, high grade leather is normally used to produce aniline dyed leather.

If you come across these terms on the internet, now you know that they refer to special aniline dyes that have been used to color the leather and that most probably, a high grade of leather has been used to manufacture this product.

Cow Hide, Goat Skin, Sheep Skin, Buffalo Leather

These specific terms refer to the animal source of leather for a particular product you`re interacting with online. Cow hide leather is good for leather bags and warm jackets. Sheep skin leather is normally used for fashion jackets and is much lighter in weight compared to cow leather. Goat skin leather is mighty rigid and not very stretchable. It`s good for leather gloves and other leather goods meant for facing abuse. Buffalo leather is very thick and durable. It`s used for leather bags, belts, shoes and heavy jackets that are supposed to withstand colder temperatures.

Crazy Horse Leather

Crazy horse leather is manufactured with high grade hides by applying a thick layer of a special wax that penetrates the pores of leather, strengthening the fibers and leaving a dual two tone pull up like effect on leather. Crazy Horse Leather is popularly used to manufacture saddles and bags.


Different manufacturers mention different distinct features that make their leather, used in a product, unique to competitors. They can be anything, denoting leather thickness to unique tanning, dyeing or special wax/oil effect used to provide final finish to leather. With leather available in infinite colors and finishes ranging from highly glossy to extremely rugged, above provided knowledge should help you better understand the leather along with other considerations you have when deciding on buying leather goods.