Everything you need to know about leather
Of all the materials that are used to create shoes and purses, leather is the best. Not only from an aesthetic perspective —even though it is incredibly durable and has an incomparable elegance— but rather for its durability and resistance. And it´s not necessary to be an expert in the field to know that, it’s enough to just look into our closets and take note of which accessories have lasted the longest in order to reach that conclusion.
That is why at muss we chose leather to create our handbags, backpacks and wallets.
Nevertheless, not all leathers are equal. This is even true when we compare grain leathers, some are better than others. Here we include a brief guide to learn to distinguish them (and to buy better).
Types of grain leather
If you have ever bought leather online —or even just navigated international fashion sites— you have definitely seen the classification “genuine leather”. This term is tricky because on the one hand and as we might expect, this does refer to the fact that the product was created with leather. But it also alludes to the quality, which is not very good.
Putting in order from best to worst quality of the different types of grain leather, they are: full grain leather, top grain leather, genuine leather and bonded leather.
These discussions allude to which part of the cow leather is being used, something like the different cuts of meat. So, full grain means that the top layer is intact, with the particular imperfections that are on the leather —whether it is complete in it´s thickness or diluted. With top grain only the upper part is treated to disguise imperfections. Genuine leather is the remaining leather when the top grain and the bonded leather are separated. This generates all that is left over after realizing the aforementioned processes. To this is added a layer of polyurethane to give it texture.
Use your senses
Beyond the technical aspects, in order to identify whether a product is leather we should use our senses. To the touch, it feels soft and resistant and if we take it to our nose it has a particular aroma. This smell is not from chemicals or treatment products.
But perhaps the most important sense is sight. If we observe a full grain leather or a superior grain we can see marks and the imperfections that have to do with something natural,meanwhile the texture is very regular, perfect. This is then an effect that was given in a factory. Other details that speak to a good construction are the zippers and the stiching.
How we select the leather for our pieces
At muss we are very demanding with the quality of the leather that we select for our products and we always select full grain leather and we aim to have them all dyed with aniline dyes which are water based and permit the imperfections to be visible. It is these imperfections that make the leather so beautiful.
We also pay attention to the use that will be given to that particular accessory. For example, for the line of new classics we selected full grain leather, the most resistant, because we know that our clients are looking for resistant material for their backpacks, material that will withstand daily use (their loads range from a computer to several books at a time). Or, in the case of the Lila purse, inspired by our mother, we looked for a very light and soft leather because we know that she doesn’t like heavy bags.
Another thing that we have learned over the years is that we like to work with leathers that the more they are used, the better they look. So at the moment of selecting leather we pay attention to how much it softens and how much more it will soften and how much more it will wear down, in this way it transforms into it´s best state. For the wallets, on the other hand, we select hard leathers so that they will maintain their structure.
Why we don't work with vegan leather (yet)
We are aware that there are increasingly more consumers that are looking for vegan materials, but for now we have decided to continue exclusively working with cowhide. In our country, Uruguay, leather is considered the remains of meat. If it weren’t used by leather industry it would totally go to waste.
On the other hand, the alternatives that are found Por otro lado, las alternativas que se encuentran en el mercado son hechas con poliuretano, material que además de ser poco duradero es altamente contaminante. En el mundo se están explorando textiles derivados de la industria alimentaria, cueros y fibras hechos a partir de la ananá, las naranjas o los hongos, pero aún no son de fácil acceso.
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