Genuine leather (a.k.a. Corrected Grain leather) and Bonded leather (a.k.a. Reconstituted leather or Blended leather) are the lowest grades of leather available. However, there are still a couple of distinctions between the two.
Genuine leather is produced from the layers of the hide that remain after the top layers are split off for the higher grades of leather (Full-Grain and Top-Grain).
To make Bonded leather, the manufacturer takes leftover scraps of leather, shreds and grinds them to a near pulp, and then bonds it all together on a fiber sheet using polyurethane or latex.
While Genuine leather is made from the lower quality layers of the hide, it is leather nonetheless. The surface is refinished with an artificial grain, and the durability of the leather is nothing compared to higher quality leather, but this is still a step above Bonded leather.
The varying degree of actual leather in the Bonded leather mix (versus chemicals) affects the smell, texture, and durability of the product. And yes, there can be a very high amount of chemicals versus leather in the mix. As long as some real leather is included, it can be called Bonded leather. Due to its low quality, Bonded leather is weak and degrades quickly. It is the cheapest to produce and is often resurfaced to look like higher quality types of leather.
Looking for higher quality leather that will actually last? Check out our collection of Full Grain and Top Grain rugged leather bags.