Leather Quality and Properties

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by VegTan, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. Munky

    Munky Senior member

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    A brilliant thread! Thank you VegTan
     


  2. BootSpell

    BootSpell Senior member

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    I am scrutinizing every wrinkle and every crease on my boots now! :-<<
     


  3. glenjay

    glenjay Senior member

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    I hope you don't mind if I expand the scope of this thread a little with a few non wrinkle related questions.

    Below is a web page from Johnston & Murphy about types of leather (http://www.johnstonmurphy.com/style_leather.aspx). I find it interesting that they never mention corrected grain, and state that "Full grain and top grain are the same.":

    [​IMG]

    Clearly full grain and top grain are not the same, but my question is does removing the very top layer (by sanding/buffing) inherently make all top grain leather only applicable to corrected grain treatment (other than suede/nubuck of course)?

    [​IMG]

    Another question, related to leather quality, is about the diagram you have that shows 4 areas of degree of leather quality. I assume the diagram is related to cow hide and not necessarily calfskin, as I would think that the majority of calfskin would be of level 1 grade quality (no wrinkles, or skin damage for external sources). And while a calfskin would be smaller it would provide more usable quality leather per skin.

    [​IMG]

    I would also assume that the majority of corrected grain leather is cow hide and not calfskin, but I really don't know for sure.
     


  4. VegTan

    VegTan Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    It is my understanding that the blue part is top grain leather and the red part is split leather.

    Isn't top grain American English?
    http://www.iultcs.org/leather_terms/t.asp




    Stretch marks become factory second.
    http://www.styleforum.net/t/228153/...thread-tutorials-photos-etc/6030#post_6444262
    [​IMG]




    The ratio of bend and shoulder seems to be almost same.

    [​IMG]
     


  5. Trompe le Monde

    Trompe le Monde Senior member

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    i prefer the nappier suede though - the so-called "shaggy suede"
     


  6. glenjay

    glenjay Senior member

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    Thanks for the response VegTan.

    The full grain / top grain image was taken from a site that sells saddle leather (http://www.saddlebackleather.com/Leather-101).

    Definitions of Top Grain can be found at these links that make a distinction between Full Grain and Top Grain:
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather)
    (http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/infoandservices/leatherguide/leatherguide.aspx)
    (http://www.natanning.com/natcorpleather_glossary.htm)
    (http://kaufmann-mercantile.com/grains-of-leather/)
    (http://www.waskerd.com/leather.html)
    (http://www.gilbergfurniture.com/WhyLeather.html)
    (http://leathershoppes.com/facts.html)

    I’m not sure if the Top Grain terminology is specific to American English, but there are certainly definitions out there that agree with the diagram as I have shown it. However, I have seen definitions of Top Grain as you have illustrated with your blue and red arrows as well (basically making full grain and top grain synonymous).

    Horween Leather Company (based in Chicago) only lists their leathers as full grain or not full grain on their tannage list. They do use the term corrected grain elsewhere, but not top grain.

    I wonder if Top Grain became more prevalent in the leather quality vernacular as a better term to describe corrected grain to the end user (mostly in the leather furniture business), since corrected grain inherently has a negative connotation.

    I would still be cautious of leather defined as top grain rather than full grain, when buying any leather product.
     


  7. dibadiba

    dibadiba Affiliate Vendor

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    I'd like to add that in the case of shoes, the marks on shoulders may seem to be unsightly. Not using this part of the hide is understandable.
    With that said, shoulder leather is a good cut of the hide, and the markings make for excellent character when used in bags and belts.
     


  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    It's also worth noting that even the best shoemakers use shoulder and belly...depends on the tannage and the application.

    Once upon a time every part of the shoe was made of vegetable tanned leather (chrome tannages had not yet been invented). Some shoes are still predominantly veg. Heel lifts, stiffeners, welts and insoles are typically made from the margins of a hide. Insoles in particular want to be taken from looser and longer fibered areas--most often the shoulder.

    I also take issue with the idea of vein shadows being deemed poor leather. Especially on outsole leathers, vein shadows tend to be most prevalent in areas where the best of the best leather is to be found--I & J in the illustration. I suspect the presence of vein shadows is more indicative of improper or insufficient shaving of the corium than weakness or flaws. And, except in extreme cases, I've yet to see a vein shadow that was hollow to any significant extent...not to where it would show up on the grain surface or affect the strength of the leather.

    And it's worth noting that the layout of shoe components depicted (cutting for least wastage) may indeed be applicable to manufacturers of RTW footwear (I have no doubt), but such illustrations are misleading in the extreme. No bespoke maker worth his salt would cut a hide in that fashion. Even two pair of shoes from a calf skin is pushing it, much less three pair. Esp. if it's really calf and not just cow labeled calf.

    I think it was Thornton who said that prime calf skins...as used in the best of the English Trade...run around 6 square feet in size. Personally, I haven't seen many that small although kangaroo comes close. These hides nevertheless retain the belly and cheeks and shoulder when they are laid out on the cutting table. There's not a lot of prime leather in them if you're going to avoid those areas. Sometimes you're lucky to get one shoe out of each hide.

    Small and perhaps trivial points but cautionary for all of that. We need to be careful when citing books or sources that are written for the manufacturing sector of the Trade. They are often penned/ghost written by people with little or no hands-on, practical experience and full of misinformation and expediencies.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013


  9. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    Usually the shaggy suede is split suede rather than reverse calf.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013


  10. Trompe le Monde

    Trompe le Monde Senior member

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    This site seems to suggest the opposite
    http://www.rancourtandcompany.com/leathers

    although in my (admittedly cursory) searching in the past, ive never found full consensus on the various definitions of suede and suede-like materials
     


  11. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Jewfro Dubiously Honored

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    That's definitely at odds with what I have seen elsewhere, although I am still in the process of researching for an article.

    It will vary suede to suede though because it depends on exactly how they treat it and the quality of the skin.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013


  12. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I don't see how it can be true. It does not make logical sense...the very qualities that we value in a full grain leather--the fineness of the fiber mat, the density, the shortness of the fibers that comprise the mat--all suggest that reverse calf will have not only a less coarse nap but be stronger all around.

    Look at the illustration in post 19 again--the layers below the top grain and corium are looser. Ipso facto shaggier nap.

    Tannage, currying, and the leather itself all have a bearing on this but my experience is that unbelgrazzo is correct.

    The Internet is full of misleading and even outright false information.
     


  13. Munky

    Munky Senior member

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    I was sad enough to read through Elmer Bliss' patent application for a shoe breaking in device. Why do shoe shops not offer a 'hand' version of this, for new shoes? I was given advice about bending shoes from VegTan and wurger on this but have yet to find it on any other site or in shoemakers' video clips.

    Second, why a 'deer' bone and not just the bone that comes out of a large Sunday joint? Did someone try a huge number of different types of bone (Elmer Bliss, perhaps) and come to the conclusion that deer was best? It seems an oddly specific type of bone.
     


  14. VegTan

    VegTan Senior member

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    Some people in the past seemed to differentiate between top grain (full grain or full top grain) and snuffed top grain (grain snuffed, corrected grain, sanded grain or hand buffed).




    I suppose you are probably right.
     


  15. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think the deer bone thing is bullshit.
     


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