Leather Fashion Accessories - Selecting Excellence

Leather is the material of choice for the most desirable and elegant fashion accessories. Leather has been used by people for about 7,000 years. People began tanning leather about 2,500 years ago and since have used it for clothing, tack, saddlery, shelter, machinery, music instruments, weaponry, bags, and much more.

Selecting truly excellent leather accessories is best done when you know a few things about leather. These are facts that will let you select excellent leather accessories.

Hides and Skins
Hide is the term for the skin of larger animals like cattle, buffalo, horse, etc. Skin refers to smaller animals like calf, goat, fish, reptiles, etc. Most are durable.

Leather Types
Common leather comes from animals that are generally reared for meat, dairy, or to be working animals. They provide more than 99% of the worlds leather. Common leather types are cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, pig, and horse.

Exotic leather may come from alligator, snake, frog, ostrich, kangaroo, salmon, perch, carp, cod, eel, rabbit, lizard, and more.

Leather Classification
Full Grain is known for its luxurious, smooth surface. It has not been sanded or buffed to remove any natural marks or imperfections from its surface. It includes the outermost part of the animal and is the highest quality leather.

Top Grain is the second-highest quality. Its surface is sanded. It has better stain resistance and is less expensive than full-grain leather.

Split leather is an inner part of the hide that remains after the full-grain and top grain have been removed. It is often referred to as genuine leather, is widely available and affordable.

Reconstituted leather is made from scraps that are bonded together with latex binders and have similar looks as higher quality leather.

Artificial leather or urethane leather is made from polymers and is very inexpensive. Unlike genuine leathers it is not biodegradable.

There are 3 primary methods of tanning leather.

Vegetable-tanned is using plant based matter such as tree bark, leaves, fruits, roots, etc. This chemistry makes it more eco-friendly than some other methods.

Chrome-tanned is the most common method due to its cost and time needed. It doesn’t discolor and is more supple than vegetable-tanned leather.

Aldehyde-tanned is often seen in automobiles and baby shoes where chrome-free leather is required.

There are many techniques used to create leather goods. They include dying, cutting, glueing, tooling, carving and more. When it comes to buying excellent leather goods, paying attention to the edges and stitching serve as good indicators of the quality of the item.

Machine stitching is quite common and reliable but if some machine stitches break an entire line of stitching could come undone. With saddle stitching each stitch has a knot to lock it, so only one stitch can com undone at a time.

Burnished and Rolled Edges
Burnishing is essentially polishing the rough edges of leather to make it smooth. Another method that is a little more sophisticated is rolling edges. It requires a special cut and tools to skive the leather and then roll it and stitch it.

At Custom Life USA we use the best leather and techniques appropriate for each part of a product, but we never use artificial leather. For example, the body of a leather purse will be full-grain leather while an inside pocket could be suede, or a braided leather cord may be reconstituted leather. Our article "How to Know if a Purse is Genuine Leather" will help answer further questions about genuine leather.


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