What is the difference between Genuine Leather and Bonded Leather?

Posted by The Green Tanners on 25th May 2024

What is the difference between Genuine Leather and Bonded Leather?

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather is made by stripping away the harder, more expensive grains from the top and using softer, easier-to-work leather underneath. Genuine leather usually has a suede or feel. It's not as durable as full-grain or top-grain, but it's much cheaper because it can be easily made into a variety of items.

What is Genuine Leather?

It’s important to understand the different grades of leather. There are four different grades of leather. There are many types of leather, including full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine leather (sometimes called corrected-grain leather), and bonded leather. The first three grades of leather are technically simple, meaning they are genuine leather, regardless of the differences in quality, durability, and price that may exist between grades. Natural leather is an inferior alternative to full-grain leather and suede. Genuine leather is made from layers of low-quality leather bonded together and then coated with varnish to make it look like high-quality leather.

Where does real leather come from?

When you buy natural foam, you are not buying an imitation, you are buying inferior foam. It just goes to show that it's not made from the highest quality grains. Many explanations are possible. This is intentionally ambiguous.

Genuine leather is usually split leather. The inner (and therefore weaker) layer of skin is removed. Top Texture refers to the highest quality exterior coating. The thickness of the skin determines how many layers can be cut through a single piece of skin. Some leathers, such as cowhide, can be divided into many layers. Genuine leather is found in the top layers of grain and suede. So the question is where the skin starts, not how good the skin is.

Natural leather may sometimes contain a combination of leather scraps, synthetic ingredients, and binding chemicals.

Maintain high standards of Genuine Leather

Buying genuine leather eliminates the risk of buying a fake. You're not getting top grain leather or full grain leather. Genuine leather has different specifications than full-grain leather or top-grain leather, but they are all the same.

Genuine leather may look like high-quality leather, but it's not as durable as faux leather. Therefore, it cannot withstand daily use and will deteriorate quickly.

Genuine leather can be used to make a variety of items including, but not limited to: handbags, backpacksbriefcases, belts, shoes, and coats.


Bonded Leather

Bonded leather is a near-synthetic leather product made from recycled leather and polyurethane mixed with leather waste. Bonded leather, is made from leather shavings that have been ground and bonded together. While bonded leather is still leather, it is not a full or regular animal hide. Instead, shavings from all other leather grades are collected, ground, and mixed with a binder liquid to make a piece of leather.

Made from leather fibers and adhesives, this material is a cost-effective and consistent alternative to real leather.

Although the price is cheap, the quality is seriously lacking. Due to its less impressive quality, bonded leather is often used for book covers and other smaller, less wear-and-tear items.

Characteristics of Recycled Leather: An Overview

Like any other material, bonded leather has unique characteristics that distinguish it from other types of leather. These characteristics are mainly affected by its unique production process and material composition.

Texture and Appearance: On the surface, to the untrained eye, bonded leather can mimic the appearance of real leather. This is because patterns similar to the texture of natural leather can be printed on the material during the manufacturing process. However, the feeling can be very different. Bonded leather often lacks the unique texture and richness of real leather. The surface often has a more plastic feel and lacks the flexibility and organic feel of genuine leather products.

Durability: Bonded leather is not as durable as full-grain leather or top-grain leather. Over time, it is more susceptible to peeling, cracking, or discoloration due to the synthetic materials used in its manufacturing process.

Consistency: One of the advantages of bonded leather is consistency. Because it is man-made, it produces uniform color and texture, which can be beneficial in certain applications.

Price: Bonded leather is generally less expensive than other types of leather due to lower production costs. While this may seem like an advantage, it's important to remember that the lower initial cost may be offset by a shortened lifespan and the potential need for replacement sooner than expected.

Despite these characteristics, it's worth noting that bonded leather is not the best choice for high-quality, durable leather goods. While it works for some purposes, it falls short compared to the Atelier Madre, which we prefer in vegetable-tanned full-grain leather.


Genuine leather or Bonded leather? How to tell the difference

1. Feel: Bonded leather feels smoother and somewhat stiffer, while real leather is often cooler and usually softer.

2. Cut edges: Genuine leather has a rough, coarse and fibrous structure on the edges. You can recognize bonded leather primarily by its smooth edges and clean, non-frayed finishes.

3. Smell: Leather often has a strong odor, but this can disappear over time, while bonded leather is more odorless.

4. Structure: Real animal hides often feel irregular and have individual scars or unevenly thick and thin areas. You can also recognize leather by the fact that small hair pores can sometimes still be seen. Bonded leather, on the other hand, has a very even structure and pattern.

5. Back: Bonded leather usually has a textile back with fine, softer fibers or a woven layer. The "background" of genuine leather is rather rough and fibrous - the processed skin of dead animals.

6. Oil test: Animal leather can absorb grease or oils if you test it on a hidden area. The genuine leather literally soaks up the grease. With bonded leather, the oil beads up on the surface.