Full Grain vs. Top Grain Leather

Ever wondered what is the difference between Full-Grain and Top-Grain leather? After all, they sound similar, but the price differential between similar products that just differ in leather composition are huge!

Why the disparity?

The strongest and most durable part of the hide of an animal is just below the hair. The grain pattern in this part of the hide is very tight, and the leather made from here is called “full-grain” leather. This type of leather is the strongest and most durable leather. Additionally, since the grain is so tight, it resists moisture very well. Over time, full-grain leather will look nicer and develop a patina from being handled. This happens due to the leather absorbing the natural oils from your body

The next best—and second strongest—leather is called “top-grain” leather. Top grain leather is similar to full-grain leather. The exception is that the top few millimeters have been sanded and buffed to take away imperfections. With the top layer removed, the leather has a more uniform finish. The trade off is that the durability wanes, leading to the leather breaking down much faster. This is more of a “cookie cutter” leather that most leather wallets and handbags are made of, which lends to their generic appearance. Top-grain leather can be good leather, but its strength and durability is not even close to the strength of full-grain leather.

A hallmark of high quality full grain leather is the small irregularities present: from healed scrapes where the animal brushed against a sharp rock or a barbed-wire fence; to insect bites; to fatty areas and neck wrinkles; even vein marks. These slight irregularities are incorporated into all of the genuine leather products by Threesixty to showcase each product’s natural individuality and handcrafted nature.

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