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5 Things to Know Before Sourcing a Leather Product

What Do I Need To Know About Leather Products?

Leather’s not just for jackets anymore. We’ve seen it all lately: all-leather cap projects, heat-branded leather business cards and even heavy-duty riveting and rhinestone-on-leather requests. But we’re realizing that there’s more myth than fact surrounding leather — so we’re setting the record straight on a few essentials.

#1 Genuine Leather isn’t Real Leather

This revelation pops up every now and then, but we think it bears repeating. “Genuine leather” is the shaved-off underside of a full piece of leather. It’s a nice bit of marketing and technically right; it’s also the least attractive part of the hide. It wears easily and is more likely to tear from embellishment or  use. The only “more fake” leather can get while still being real is the shredded-leftovers-and-glue variety,  often used for low-quality “leather”-bound books. 

“Real Leather” designates the full-grain or top-grain varieties; the only difference between the two is that top-grain is slightly sanded for aesthetic reasons. The tough, full-fibered character is highly-prized and continues to collect character throughout its life, kind of like you.

#2 There’s More than One Kind of “Real” Leather

If you’ve decided to invest in full-grain leather, you still have another decision to make. Different animal leathers have highly varied applications.

Cattle leather is the most common simply due to its sheer durability. Its full grain is thick and durable — ideal for high-use items like messenger bags, fire gloves and motorcycle safety apparel. But it also makes for resilient caps and patches in heavy-wear areas.

Sheep leather is more supple and smooth — well-suited for winter gloves and fitted jackets. More subtle and refined than cattle leather, sheepskin can take on softer hues, more precise embossing and stitching — but it’s also more delicate. Perfect for labels.

We offer both types and source a few others — our representative will recommend the best option as part of your free design.

#3 Not All Leather Replacements are Equal

Not everyone is looking to create a high-dollar leather item. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle on low-quality “genuine leather” that will wear out fast.

TruTouch fake leather is the leather replacement king.. You have to be a leather connoisseur to feel the difference as even the back looks authentic — but your budget will know right away. Good for keychains that are going to be taking a beating. Also an excellent alternative for animal-free apparel, as TruTouch is a plastic simulation built around cotton or other fabric..

Microfiber leather, or “fake suede,” is less convincing but no less useful. It’s soft, water resistant and easily cleaned, making it a candidate for any regular usage in caps and patches that will often be getting dirty. Additionally, it’s quite affordable.

Keep in mind that when sourcing leather for wearables — like chokers and wristbands — that real leather lets your skin breath the best. Faux leather can sometimes irritate due to lack of breathability.

#4 Leather can get wet

Don’t be afraid to design leather products or add-ons that are going to get wet.  With proper care by the customer, leather can air-dry without losing color or gaining unsightly spots. Leather is a porous, organic material — it’s used to to drying out on its own. A well-written care and maintenance label goes a long way in extending the lives of leather goods.

#5 Leather Doesn’t Just Come in Brown

Believe it or not, that “leather” color you think of when you hear the word is probably a dye. Virtually all leather is dyed — the default color is beige but depends on the animal  Potential dye colors, while not endless, are quite varied, ranging from black to blue and even green — and as hundreds of hues of brown. During The/Studio’s free design process, your representative will gladly show you some swatch comparisons and send you a sample if your order qualifies.

Do I Go For Real or Genuine Leather?

“Real” leather and “genuine” leather are not quite the same. Although genuine leather is considered authentic, it is actually the lowest quality that you can get from real leather. Genuine leather is stripped down and results in the lowest quality of leather you can get. Genuine leather does not look as good nor does it last as long as real leather. Depending on what you would make use of it, I would keep those factors in mind.

If you are in search for top-grain leather (“real” leather), then you should expect to get high-quality, durable, and good looking leather. However, it is much more expensive. Real leather is considered a real investment, as it is more expensive, lasts longer, and overall has a better look and feel to it as opposed to genuine leather.

Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, the durability, longevity, and look of the item, it all revolves around these key factors.

Is Genuine Leather Real?

Despite its name, most people do not know that genuine leather is the lowest quality of “real” leather that money can buy. As a consumer, you should certainly be aware of the fancy name, as it is a marketing gimmick. Genuine leather is not nearly as durable, long-lasting, nor does it look as good as high-grade leather. Genuine leather is considering low-grade leather. Genuine leather serves different purposes and it is obvious when you see the difference between the two types of leather in person.
If you don’t mind short-lived, low-quality, more affordable products, then genuine leather is the way to go.

Genuine leather is commonly used for:

  • Handbags
  • Briefcases
  • Shoes
  • Wallets

However, you will not find genuine leather in high-end retailers. Instead, you will find genuine leather in department stores.


Ordering leather goods can be tough — but with our decade of manufacturing experience, it doesn’t have to be. Our representatives can answer any questions you might have regarding best-uses and best practices. Whether it’s caps, patches, labels or keychains or anything else, The/Studio can make your life a little easier.




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