Types of leather used in handbags

Leather handbags are viewed as top quality bags because they are made out of leather.  There are many different types of leather and some leathers are higher quality than others.  However there is still a misconception that all leather products are made equal, just because they contain leather.
Before you buy a handbag, it is important to know the difference between the different types of leather so you are aware of exactly what you are buying and that you are getting good value for your money.  We recommend that a bit more research is done on the materials used to make handbags to gain a greater understanding on the quality differences between each type of leather.

Which leather is best for handbags?

If you are shopping for a new leather handbag and durability and quality is what you want, then handbags made of cowhide leather is the best choice.  If you prefer a soft texture and durability is not a concern, then lambskin handbags are worth looking for.
Items such case cell phone cases or wallets or cigarette cases would be good items to consider lambskin or faux leather although one should still consider durability.

Type of  Leather


Cowhide Leather

Cowhide leather originates from cow skin (hide).  There are many different products that include cowhide leather, such as furniture, car seats, and luxury fashion items.  Cowhide leather is the best choice of leather when buying a purse or handbag and it is considered to be the highest quality type of leather as it is very durable and gives off a very luxurious appeal. The texture should be noticeable and you should be able to feel the roughness of it pretty easily.
Luxury fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Gucci all use top quality cowhide leather for their products.

Faux Leather

Faux leather is not really a type of leather as it is an artificial leather.  There are many items that are actually made out of faux leather. This is artificial leather which can often provide a luxurious appeal that makes it seem to be just as high quality as cowhide leather. If the leather has no deformities or any creases, then it is a good indicator that it is made of faux leather.
The benefits to faux leather products include the product being very durable and being more affordable. Also, if you are against animal use for goods then you do not have to worry about the animal’s skin being used for leather.

Lambskin Leather

Lambskin leather originates from sheep and it can be appealing due to the soft texture.  The major downfall of lambskin leather is that it is not very durable and it can easily be torn or deformed.  This is a major reason why cowhide leather is a better and more widely used for purses and handbags compared to lambskin leather.

Patch Leather

Patch leather may be made up of cowhide or lambskin leather. This type of leather is much more affordable type of leather as it is made up of multiple smaller pieces of leather and it can also be high in quality as well.  It is not very common for Patch Leather to be used for handbags.

What are Leather Grains?

The origin of leather is not the only aspect to consider, one also needs to consider the grain of the leather.  The two highest quality choices are the full grain and top grain.  Other relatively common options include corrected grain, buckskin, patent, and split leather, but they are not as high quality.

Types of Leather Grains

There are five types of leather grains:  top grain leather, full grain leather, corrected grain leather, split leather and bonded leather.
If the leather is corrected in any way, its called top grain leather.  Leather which has the entire grain intact is called full grain.  Even though it may have blemishes, full grain leather is the most sought after and the most expensive because of its durability and longevity.

Full Grain Leather

Full grain leather features no separation of the top grain and split layers and it comes from hides that have not been buffed, sanded, or modified to eliminate imperfections or deformities.    It takes the entire grain of the hide, including any imperfections and built-in toughness of the hide.  Full Grain leather is very durable and breathable and is often used in heavy-duty items like utility belts and weapon holsters, high quality leather furniture, dress belts, work boots, dress shoes and briefcases.
Full Grain leather will develop a rich patina as it ages, making it look more beautiful with use.  If you take care of a full grain leather product, it will probably last you your whole life.

Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather may not be the highest quality of leather grain but it is the second best and it features separation of the split layer and it is thinner compared to the full grain leather.  The hide surface is buffed or sanded and a coating layer is applied.
Top grain leather is made to be durable and stain resistant but it is not very breathable. As this leather is thinner and has been sanded and coated,it is not used in goods which require the most expensive choices of leather goods.
A full grain cowhide leather is the best type of leather for a high quality handbag.  Any of the luxury handbags brands will be using this type of leather or something very close to it.
To fully understand the different types of leathers and their effects during the manufacturing process for a handbags, one needs to do a fair amount of research.  One does not need to put a lot of emphasis on this unless you’re planning to manufacture handbags.

Split Leather

Split leather refers to the part that is split off from the grain at the grain/corium junction.  Split leather is then sliced down into thinner pieces and used for other purposes.
Sometimes a polymer coating is applied and embossed to make it look like a grained leather.
One type of split leather is suede and is often confused with nubuck.  Nubuck is more stronger and durable than suede while suede’s softness and pliability makes it useful for certain applications.

Bonded Leather

Bonded Leather is the lowest grade of leather as its not really leather and it is made up of leather scraps, reconstituted with a filler and backed with an embossed polyurethane coating.
It is very cheap and falls apart quickly.

Corrected Grain Leather

If a full grain leather hide has too many natural blemishes and markings, some of the blemishes or markings are removed giving us what is know as Corrected Gran Leather.  A simulated grain and a pigment finish is applied after the tannery “corrects” the surface.
The different types of corrections range from sanding down to remove some of the natural grain and applying a more consistent grain pattern to lightly buffing the hide to remove the peaks and valleys of the grain.