About The Leather (Full Grain/ Vegetable Tanned):
Full grain leather is from the outer most portion of the cow hide. As such it is the strongest part of the hide with the highest concentration of fibers. These hides, that are full grain and sourced from some of the worlds best tanneries, also will age well and patina (increase appearance) over time and normal use.
Within a hide there are several "levels" of leather than are extracted from a single hide. Once the outer most portion of the hide (Full Grain) is extracted there are other lesser levels of leather that can also be extracted.
For example, top grain is a bit deeper into the hide and the top grain leather contains fewer fibers, thus making the leather less strong and will not wear as well.
Genuine leather is the lowest level of actual leather and is a level beneath top grain.
Types of Hides:
Not only are the levels of a hide significant but it is also useful to know that hides are graded. The top level (or as most tanneries label them # 1's) contain the fewest defects and will produce better products.
Also the type of cow that the hide comes from is also important. The jumbo North American steer is considered the best source of hides for leather.
Once the raw hide is selected it is then put through a "tanning" process. Basically removing excess material and preparing the hide to become quality leather.
The Tanning Process Vegetable Tanning:
There are several methods of tanning. The vegetable tanning process produces the highest quality leather. This process uses natural substances like tree bark to process the hide into a leather item. Vegetable tanning takes longer and therefore causes less disturbance to the fibers in the hide. But, it also produces a much higher quality hide. A typical vegetable tanning cycle from the raw hide to a finished dyed hide runs about 4 to 6 weeks depending upon the dye and finish applied to the hide.
The Tanning Process Chrome Tanning:
Chrome tanning uses chromium salts and other chemicals that will "tan" a hide much faster. A chrome tanning process from raw hide to finished, dyed and waxed hide is usually a few days and can be as short as two days. Because the time and effort is less most chrome tanned hides are less costly. Chrome tanned is more common because of the lower cost. Also chrome tanned hides are more common in automotive, clothing and furniture.
The Tanning Process Oil Tanning:
Another tanning process is called oil tanning. This process will use different oils, for example, fish oils in some cases that will add an extra element to choices for consumers. Not everyone will want to purchase the best leather, although we do suggest that, because, over time, the actual life cycle cost will be lower. It is worth noting that some tanneries will attempt to claim that oil tanning is the same as vegetable tanning and some will label hides this way. Oil tanning is an option in the marketplace but IS NOT vegetable tanning, even though some will label this as RE-Veg Tan.
Hide Appearance and Initial Condition:
Images that exhibit scratches, stretch marks, or other blemishes in the product are not build defects but are a verification that this item is built from the outer most or FULL GRAIN part of the hide. The outer most portion of a North American Steer hide is what is exposed to the world, thus reflecting the artifacts that hide was exposed to. This produces the strongest, most durable and attractive leather.