Leather has always been a luxury material used in a wide variety of men’s goods from bags to shoes and belts to gloves. With so many varieties available, each with their own characteristics, this guide will help you make an informed buying decision.

Leather quality

Leather quality is determined by the overall durability of it and the lack of blemishes. These two factors will determine whether it’s a first grade, second grade, third grade, or fourth grade quality leather.

First grade quality leather comes from the lower back of the animal and only makes up 13% of the hide. It has all the qualities manufacturers want for their higher end pieces and it only makes up a small portion of the animal. Therefore, it commands a higher price.

Second grade leather is very close to first grade leather but makes up for 30% of the hide. It comes from the around the buttock and centre back of the animal. Most leather bags and jackets are crafted out of second grade leather.

Third grade leather comes from the rib area of the animal and makes up for 32% of the hide. So, between second grade and third grade, we see about 62% of the hide being available.

Fourth grade leather makes up about 25% of the hide and it comes from in and around the leg area of the animal, together with the neck and the head. As a result, this grade of leather is rather difficult to work with.

Leather types

To understand the different types of leather, the layers need to be analyzed. When leather is described to be full grain, it is the highest quality grade of leather money can buy. It comes from the top layer of the hide and includes all the natural grain. It is more expensive for manufacturers to buy and more difficult for them to work with.

Then we have top grain, which refers to the process of sanding away the natural grain from the top surface of the leather. Imitation grain gets stamped into the leather to give a more uniform look, but no genuine grain remains.

Genuine leather is mostly made of the corium. This means that the lower layers of the hide are stripped off. At times, genuine leather may also be mixed with leather scraps and artificial materials coupled with bonding agents.


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Clayton Durant


The premier source for insight, advice and guides from Sri Lanka’s most influential entrepreneurs.