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Ask the Shopkeeper
When considering a purchase of a leather item, most customers feel like they are taking a risk.
“How will I know if this item is made from quality leather?”
The first clue in determining the quality of leather is reading the company’s website, and reading the product labeling.
Is the company talking about their leather? What information does the company share?
If you see Genuine Leather or Bonded Leather (also called Fiber or Reconstituted Leather) listed as the material, expect the product to last a few years at most.
Patent leather is basically some form of leather with a plastic coating added.
Full-grain leather is the most durable and highest quality choice.
If the company website or product label doesn’t spell out the type of leather being used, you’ll want to mark that fact down as your first clue to cheap leather.
Quality leather is worth talking about. Cheap leather is better hidden from the customer.
OK. You believe the product is made from leather. You can’t find any labels that identify whether the leather is full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine leather, or bonded leather.
Shortcuts can affect how the leather ages.
If you can look at the edge of the leather without cutting the product, you may notice a sky blue color.
This light blue color means that the tannery only partially processed the hide, and part of the hide called the “wet blue” is showing.
Ordering a steak rare or medium is a taste preference. Ordering a bag rare or medium is the result of a leather “chef” who is cutting corners.
Blue edges mean the hide was rushed through the process.
Many times, a manufacturer will try to disguise the “wet blue” edge by painting the edges.
To be fair, painted edges are not always an indication of cheap leather. An “edge coat” may be applied to high-quality leather to complete the aesthetic of the finished product.
But, painted edges are still one of the clues you can use if there is no other information about the type of leather.
Take some time to really feel the leather.
Is it stiff or brittle? Poorly processed leather will feel this way.
Notice the surface of the leather. Is there a grain to the leather? Does that grain look and feel a little too perfect?
Can you identify a repeatable pattern? If so, it means there was a texture stamped into the leather.
What about blemishes? Does it look and feel like there are scars or scabs on the leather?
Likely, cheaper leather was sourced and you are actually seeing the scars and bug bites on the hide of the animal.
Look at other areas of the product.
Does the bag appear cheaply constructed? Is the stitching straight?
What about the lining? Does the lining look and feel cheap?
It stands to reason that a company that produces poorly constructed products with sloppy stitching, cheap lining, or cheap hardware would not be using first quality leather.