High quality leather vs. low quality leather is like Pappy Van Winkle vs. Jack: they can both look great at a glance, but if you pay very close attention (and know what to look for), it won’t take long to tell that one cost a lot more to make. Here are four keys to identifying high quality versus low quality leather:
The highest quality grade of leather is Full Grain followed by Top Grain. Lower quality grades of leather include Genuine leather (also called Corrected Grain leather) and Bonded leather.
Leather is a natural material made from real animal skin. Its surface structure should not be completely uniform and will include blemishes and imperfections. (Hints of imperfections are a good sign in leather.) A perfectly uniform grain indicates low quality.
Again, remember leather is a natural material. High quality leather is soft and pliable. When you run your fingers across it, it shouldn’t feel perfectly smooth. Press your finger into the leather - the surface will stretch and wrinkle a bit, like skin.
There is no way around it - high quality leather costs more to produce than low quality leather. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably (definitely) is.