Our wallets go through a lot. Be honest, how many times have you left yours at a pub or the back of an Uber? What about that time you left it on top of the minivan at that gas station in the middle of Iowa? Some wallets never come back the same.
Life happens, and that’s why you shouldn’t settle for just any wallet. You need something quality – and our full grain leather wallets are built to last. Don’t worry though, we haven’t sacrificed all the beauty for grit – they’re handsome too. Your wallet doesn’t just hold your world, it also says a lot about you, so pick one that reflects your rugged good looks and personality.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LEATHER QUALITY
There are four main types of leather – and the differences matter.
FULL GRAIN LEATHER
Full grain leather is the highest grade of all leather types. It’s the top layer of the hide, including the full thickness of the skin – that means it’s not sanded or buffed to remove natural marks or imperfections. The full thickness makes this the most difficult type of leather for manufacturers to work (which is reflected in the premium price for the consumer). All the grain in the hide remains in full grain leather, which allows fiber strength, durability, and breathability. Rather than wearing out, the natural surface of full grain leather wallets develops a desirable patina over time.
Top grain leather is the second-highest quality and is the type most commonly used in high-end leather products. This leather has a split layer with imperfections removed, making it thinner and more workable for the manufacturer (and generally a bit less expensive for the end product). The surface of top grain leather is sanded and given a finish coat. The finish coat means the leather will not develop a natural patina and greatly reduces breathability, but it provides protection against stains that would otherwise sink into full grain leather.
Corrected grain leather and “genuine” leather are two names for the same type of leather. This is the third grade of leather and is produced from the layers that remain after the top layers are split off for the better types of leather. An artificial grain is applied to the surface and then sprayed with stain or dye to give it a more natural appearance.
Bonded leather is bottom-of-the-barrel leather – literally. Leftover scraps of leather are shredded and ground to a near pulp, then bonded together using polyurethane or latex onto a fiber sheet. The varying degree of actual leather in the mix (versus chemicals) affects the smell, texture, and durability of the product. Bonded leather is the cheapest to produce and is often resurfaced to look like higher quality types of leather - so watch out.
FULL GRAIN LEATHER WALLETS: BISON VS. COW LEATHER
Full grain leather wallets in bison or cow leather are both premium options because “full grain” is the highest quality of leather regardless of the animal hide type. The main differences will be in the grain pattern and how the leather is processed.
Full grain bison leather, like full grain cow leather, is processed by skilled artisans. The distinctive grain of bison leather is highly desirable, so to preserve this feature, the bison hides are not stretched during the tanning process.
In its natural state, a bison hide is not necessarily stronger than cowhide. (Both are the strongest type of easily obtainable animal hides, and they’re similar in strength and elasticity.) A leather’s strength is dictated by the thickness of the hide or the leather grade, so full grain is a good indication for both types. However, as mentioned above, bison hides are typically not stretched as much as cowhide, which means full grain bison leather may be considered even stronger than full grain cow leather.
For a more thorough look at cow leather vs. bison leather, check out this article.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What’s the right way to clean a full grain leather wallet?
Cleaning full grain leather wallets (the right way) is more about protecting and moisturizing the leather than making it look brand new. Remember, full grain leather develops a unique patina and looks even better over time, and we don’t want to prevent that. Instead, we recommend cleaning in a way that preserves the leather’s natural quality and beauty – here’s how:
- 3-4 Soft, clean cloths
- Straw & toothpick (optional)
- Leather Cleaner
- Leather Conditioner
Clean the inside:
Remove all contents from inside your wallet, and shake out any loose dirt that may have collected in there. To get into the corners, use a straw to blow out any lint, dust, or dirt that may be hiding. (A toothpick can help with stubborn corners, but be very careful.)
Clean the outside:
Use a dry cloth to remove any surface dust, and then wipe down the exterior using a cleaner that is specially formulated for leather. Apply the cleaner with a soft cloth in a circular motion; then remove with a slightly damp cloth to avoid clogging the pores of the leather.
Condition the outside:
Find a leather conditioner, and test an inconspicuous spot before applying it to your entire wallet. (Conditioning can slightly change the color of the leather, so be sure you’re happy with the effect.) If you’re happy with the conditioner, apply it to a clean cloth, and then gently rub over the entire leather wallet, taking special care around any embellishments.
Note that you don’t need to complete a full cleaning and conditioning process very often. (Really, the brisk dusting will go a long way when it comes to everyday care.) But taking time to clean and condition your leather wallets at least twice a year (up to once a month) will enhance the natural beauty of the leather, prevent it from drying out over time, and ultimately extend the life of your leather wallet.
2. Which wallet should I choose?
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of our full grain leather wallets. Here are the options you’ll find in our collection and a few thoughts on each:
Leather Money Clips
You may not technically consider this a “wallet,” but the leather money clip definitely makes the list. Essentially the anti-wallet wallet, a full grain leather money clip offers simplicity and minimalist appeal. If you can keep it ultra-tidy, a leather money clip is a clean and simple option.
Leather Billfolds: Bifold Wallets & Trifold Wallets
Traditional full grain leather wallet billfolds – whether bifold or trifold – offer timeless appeal. Billfolds come in two main variations: bifolds and trifolds. Because of the extra fold, trifolds tend to take up more space in a pocket, but depending on the design (and how it’s filled), that isn’t always the case!