What is Full Grain Leather?

Latico Leathers is proud of be a family-owned company. Since 1984, Latico has been committed to providing high-quality leather handbags. Each piece embodies a bohemian aesthetic, breezy attitude, and independent spirit. We’re passionate about environmental sustainability and giving back — our leathers are byproducts of the meat and dairy industry that would otherwise go to waste.

We've started by designing our handbags with the best materials we could find, which includes our signature buttery-soft leather. Trust us, it's pretty dreamy!

Latico uses 100% full-grain handcrafted leather, which is durable and will last a lifetime. Our bags are also handcrafted, giving each style a unique, custom look that's put together with care.

But what is full grain leather? There's so many different materials, textures, and technical jargon among leather that it can get confusing to figure out what is what, especially when it comes to leather grades. How do you know where to invest and where to skip out?

In general, there are four types of leather grades: full grain, (the highest quality and what Latico uses in our all bags), top grain, genuine and suede. Read on to learn more about each.

What is full grain leather?

Full grain leather comes from the outermost part of the hide of the cow, the layer of the skin of the cow that protects them and is surviving in the elements of sun, rain, and wind. Therefore, this makes full grain leather the most long-lasting and good-looking when it comes to making leather products from this layer.

Because of its premium quality and look, full grain leather is considered the most high-quality leather when it comes to leather grades. This makes it the most in demand and the most expensive for both designers and suppliers crafting leather products, as well as the end customer. Full grain leather is the easiest leather to work with because of its tightly knit fibers in the hide. These protect the cow from the environment and are left unharmed during the tanning process, which makes full grain leather the most durable leather.

To use the full grain of the hide, the cow had to live a nice life in a pasture outdoors and in a pleasant environment. If there are cows that are raised in less-than-optimal weather conditions, having to endure more exposure, their hides will also be less than optimal, making it so they must be sanded down to create the same beautiful looking leather. Another differentiator of full grain leather is that is hasn't been sanded down to produce that nice looking leather (which also makes it weaker than a natural hide). This makes full grain leather harder to source.

Full grain leather is used in items like our hand bags, as well as long-lasting and durable outdoor gear like boots and jackets that need to endure harsher environments.

What is top grain leather?

Top Grain leather refers to the upper layer of the hide of the cow, making it super enticing as it is the most resilient part of the hide. If you remember from above, some leather is sanded and buffed down to correct any imperfections in the hide. If the leather is still coming from the top, upper layers of the hide, but modified in some way to create that beautiful looking leather, it then has a "corrected" grain and is classified as "top grain" leather.

At times, top grain leather can be just as great, if not rivaling full grain leather, as it has been manufactured to be without any blemishes and can come in a consistent and soft feel. However, there is variation in how stiff and durable corrected leather can be.

What is suede?

When you think of suede leather, you probably think of the soft feel of a favorite jacket or tote bag. It's smooth and flexible, which is why it's a popular leather. It's also very delicate because the top grain has been removed, leaving the loose, soft fibers of the lower layers of the hide behind to make suede. These fibers on the lower layers of the hide are authentic leather, however, are less durable than full grain leather as that outer, protective layer has been removed. Suede leather is a great option if you're looking for an item with a soft, comfortable feel, however it won't be as long lasting as full grain leather will be.

What is genuine leather?

The term genuine leather can be confusing. You can find a mix of genuine and faux leather products that use the term "genuine leather". Genuine leather can be a term used for any grade of leather products and is usually built on split hides, the most bottom layer of the leather hide with the loosest, weakest fibers.

For it to resemble a real leather, there are typically layers of synthetic materials or top-coats of waxes on the leather base, which is then stamped with artificial texture to mimic the appearance of a higher-quality leather, such as full grain leather. Some genuine leathers are even made by gluing layers of split hide together and then smoothing out the edges to again give the appearance of a more premium leather. If you're looking to detect a lower grade leather from a full grain leather, genuine leathers can appear almost plastic looking, as they have been modified so much from their original state.

The embodiment of better

Latico Leathers uses full grain leather in all our leather products, including totes, wallets and more. Full grain leather comes with character that showcases and celebrates the life of the cow and its individuality, and we're committed to always striving for high-quality materials and designs that honor that. Our full grain leather bags ensure you can count on your product to last for years to come and will only improve the patina with age. Every bump, wrinkle and scratch breaks your leather bag in and gives it a condition that is unique to you and reminds us that your journey is uniquely yours.

Each Latico bag is handmade with love by talented artisans throughout South America and India. We're passionate about environmental sustainability and giving back — our leathers are byproducts of the meat and dairy industry that would otherwise go to waste.

Additionally, we donate 10 meals to Feeding America for every purchase made on our website. Thanks to our loyal customers, we've been able to donate 100,000 meals and counting to this incredible organization.

Learn more about us by checking out our story of how we got started or check out our reviews for why people love Latico bags, time and time again.

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