Types of leather - basic knowledge of your style conscious

Leather is one of the oldest materials known to human race. For thousands of years different types of leather were the base for creating cloths like coats or hats, but also accessories like bags, shoes, wallets, purses, belts and many others. Until today the leather is considered as one of the most durable and noble material.

The history of leather work developed its own tradition, habits and terminology. It could take years of study to fully dive into the world of this craft. It may be confusing for costumers who would like to know what they pay for. Let's make this world a bit more clear for us. In this article you will find the basic knowledge about the types of leather used for personal goods.

Types of leather - leather goods laying on the floor - shoes, belt, wallet, watch - From Poland With Love

The main difference - natural or faux leather

Since the natural leather in known for us for centuries it is the most common material that comes to mind if we think about wallets, bags or shoes. But the fashion world gained plenty of new possibilities with the appearance of plastic fibers.

On nowadays market you can choose among many different types of leather, not only natural made in a traditional way, but also in its artificial substitutes like synthetic fibers. Polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride are the most popular materials to produce an artificial leather.

Cloths and furniture made of synthetic fibers are cheaper than natural leather. Upholstery made of them is often used in public spaces such as hospitals or low-cost restaurants, clubs and other places. The fashion world consider plastic fibers as a great mean of expression and an experimental area.

But we should remember that the biggest defect of synthetic materials is that they are non-renewable and non-biodegradable and their production causes a lot of environmental issues. So let's focus on the natural leather today.

A man sewing a leather belt in a workshop - From Poland With Love

The types of natural leather

As mentioned before, leather crafts assists human for a long time. As long as we eat meat we also use by-products of its production. The leather, called a hide, is one of them.

Cow leather is the most popular. But the skin of pigs, horses, sheep or deer is also often used. The most exotic leather is made of alligators, snakes, ostriches, frogs and different species of fish.

Characteristics of the leather could vary depending on the genre of animal but also on its diet, the living environment and its health. Different types of leather are used for different purposes. For example thick cow leather is the best to produce strong and durable belts. Depending on the type, the leather will also need different treatment and maintenance. Let's take a look on the main types of leather.

Full grain leather

Full grain leather is a top part of a hide. This is the most external part of animal's skin. Thanks to fiber structure it is also the most durable and thick part which gives the proper protection to animal's skin. Each snip of full grain leather is unique, because it show the history of an animal. Scars, scratches or even insect bites could be visible on its surface.

Bike bag made of full grain leather - From Poland With Love

This kind of leather is strong so you can be sure that it will not crack, peel of tear. It is often used to produce long-lasting products for special purposes, like saddles or leashes, but also for our personal goods. Bags, purses or shoes made of full grain leather will give you the durability lasting for years.

This leather is a kind of material that has a very desirable feature: it becomes more and more beautiful with age. Investing in the full grain leather will return with years. If you want to make your items last long with you, then natural leather should become one of your favorite material. Take a look on our leather collection to see what kind of goods could me made of it. 

Top grain leather

The second layer of leather is called top grain. It is produced by sanding and buffing the leather. The goal is to remove all "imperfections" of full grain leather, like markings and scars, to achieve more uniform appearance of leather.

It is much thinner than full grain so it is used for creation of more subtle goods. But because of that it is also less durable so it requires more attention.

Nubuck leather

The nubuck leather was originally made of deer or elk leather. It is a top grain layer of leather which was not totally processed. It's surface has been brushed and polished and in the effect was leaving a thin layer of short protein surface which creates a velvet feeling. You can recognize it with its main characteristic: when you run your hand over it, the surface will change its shade.

It is more durable and stronger than suede, but also more expensive. Its surface has rougher appearance and may retain some natural leather markings not removed by sanding process.


The most inner layer of the hide is used to produce suede. This layer, originally, has a contact with animal's flesh, but thanks to sanding and buffing it becomes softer and more flexible than nubuck. This is the less durable kind of leather, but it is often appreciated for its velvet appearance. The surface of suede is much more absorbent than other types fo leather so it will need more proper maintenance.

The variety of types

Different types of leather make our everyday life objects more diverse and unique. Thanks to durability of leather we can we sure to own items that will last with us for a long time.

To keep your leather belonging in perfect condition you must remember about proper maintenance. With basic knowledge and few simple steps the care of leather could become a pleasant ritual and give you a lot of satisfaction.

A man holding a brown leather briefcase - From Poland With Love