5 Types of Leather

We can talk about leather jackets and what goes into the making of leather jackets for hours and hours- how complicated it can be to make one. Form the cuts to the styles, from the color to the accessories, form the fur to the inner lining. There is much to talk about, so let’s get started with the different types of leather.


Full-grain is leather smoother from the grain side and is unbuffed, so it is still identifiable from the natural grain pattern of the animal. Since, after sanding and buffing along with the usual process it still could not be classified as full-grain leather, hence full-grain is where the natural grain is not removed from on to the product going forth in the process. 

Full-grain leather is considered to be of higher quality because the surface is more natural and the thickness of the color layer is usually less.

The tanning is comparatively straightforward to other types of leather because full-grain does not need as thick of a color layer to be prepared. The thickness of the color layer matters to the softness and natural look, and that is why it looks more natural and feels better to wear. This allows it to be used to make the regular biker jacket for womens, for comfort and style.

Provided that it maintains its naturalness through the process, full-grain may also have patterns that are embossed on to it and remain classified as full-grain leather

Top grain

Top grain is where the grain side is left mostly untouched and removed entirely. This could consist of all sorts of smooth leather products such as embossed leather. The grain side means the hair side on the leather of the animal that is smooth and with a grained exterior. And of course, the flesh side means the side of the leather that faces the animal’s insides.

Any type of leather has its distinct traits when it comes to the grain pattern. For instance, the pore density of pig hyde is not as high as for cowhide. The process of coloration and embossing can change the grain pattern, so much so that one type of leather can be made to look different.

Split Grain   

This is a dicey one. Split grain refers to the division of the leather in several layers from top to bottom and the sections used to make it. Splitting refers to the process of dividing and extracting the hyde in already classified sub-sections. During the process of extracting thinker leather like cow leather, the split is marked as flesh split and grain split or top grain split. 

Since this is roughly like trying to peel back a layer out of a peel, the splitting process has to be carried out most carefully. The skin is quite thicker at this point because of the water content of the animal. So while tanning it has to be taken into account what the thickness of the skin will be at the end-stage. The look we see in a Mens suede jacket is achieved just this way, while the tanner is mindful of the suede requirement from extraction to processing to finish.  The same goes for car seat covers and upholstery.

Genuine Leather

Consumers don’t usually realize what type of leather they have or want, and even more so with what level of quality it is. In fact when we say genuine leather is just a matter of technicality. The word ‘genuine’ leather is almost a misrepresentation. Genuine leather doesn’t just mean that it is real leather, it is. But it means that it is the lowest quality of leather. Ironic isn’t it?

This is why it normally doesn’t look as good or as comfortable to wear or lasts as long as a rather durable and better-looking type of leather of better quality.

The implication of genuine may throw you off but rest assured it is not the best type of leather or the best leather product, just because it says ‘Genuine Leather’. Genuine leather is real leather nonetheless, but then again all the aforementioned types are too. Although we can always use this to our advantage by getting a custom leather jacket made when we’re on a budget.

Bonded Leather

Bonded leather also known as blended leather is a material that consists of binders and leather fibers. Produced with a leather fiber content of at least 50% and it is produced in rolls. Bonded leather comes from waste during miscellaneous leather production.

Used primarily for the material to make heels of shoes, soles, and other parts of footwear. Floor panels, wall panels, and book covers are also made of bonded leather. 

Although bonded leather can not get sold in the market as ‘genuine leather’ even with the leather fibers intact, it does make an appearance at the cheap end of the market.


When it comes to leather it is all about the finish and how it feels. Sometimes that cheap quality item from the bottom of the barrel at the thrift store may very well outshine the rest of our wardrobe, especially when we talk about leather jackets. That would be a sartorial fluke if you will.

Also Read: A Retelling of the Historical Leather Jacket Look

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