Understanding leather quality

Understanding leather quality main image Understanding leather quality image

When you are purchasing a race suit or motorcycle jacket you may be faced with the decision of choosing what type of leather to select. The two most popular types of leather are kangaroo or cowhide. By reading our Shark Leathers' buying guide, you can make the purchasing process less complicated.

What are the benefits of cowhide?

For years cowhide has been one of the most popular choices of motorcyclist for its protection in the event of a motorcycle accident. One of the biggest reasons is its value for money. While it's certainly not the cheapest leather available on the market, it is renowned for its abrasion resistance and comfort.

What are the benefits of Kangaroo leather?

Kangaroo leather is notably one of the best leathers in the world for its comfort, softness, yet it's still super tough and often a popular choice for professional race suits. Kangaroos aren't as hairy as cows, and therefore the leather requires much less processing, making it more durable and abrasion-resistant. Being a lightweight leather, Kangaroo leather means when it's used in a race suit it won't restrict your movement and won't weigh you down.

Leather is often divided into grades: Genuine leather, top grain leather and full grain leather, but what's the difference.

Genuine leather
The word genuine means real. If the label on the product you are looking for says genuine leather, it means it is made out of real leather but doesn't tell you what grade of leather. Most likely, if you see goods made from genuine leather and it doesn't have any mention of top-grain or full-grain leather, it's safe to assume the product you are looking at is the lowest quality leather.

Top grain leather
The use of the word top-grain leather can be confusing and to assume this is the best quality leather at the top of the range leather is incorrect. Top grain leather is most likely to be used in men's wallets and ladies handbags. It is your garden-variety, middle of the range type of leather. It's not terrible quality, but if you are looking for unbeatable protection you need when riding, you want to check your gear is made from full-grain leather.

Full-grain leather

Full-grain leather is in its natural state with all the irregularities and durability. Products manufactured in full-grain leather don't tear and is wear-resistant. The stitching will usually fail before the leather starts to wear. It is often the choice for products where toughness matters such as motorcycle jackets, motorcycle boots  It is the best quality leather you can buy. If you take care of it properly.

What is the difference between top grain and full grain leather?

To understand the difference in the quality between top grain and full grain leather, you need to understand the manufacturing process. Full grain leather is the least processed out of all the leathers. Aside from hair removal, full-grain leather isn't subjected to buffing or sanding. You should be able to tell the difference from inspecting the leather. Generally, top grain leather won't have the distinguishing marks that you'll see in full grain. It will be free from any natural texture, smooth and without any defects.

Beware of leathers that are bonded, spit or corrected grain leather which is inferior quality leather printed with a fake grain.

What is Aniline leather?

Aniline leather is super soft, has a luxury feel that's warm to the touch. Aniline leather is dyed with soluble dyes so the leather maintains it's natural texture. Due to its softness, it is often the go-to leather for leather lounge suites and motorcycle gloves. Only the best quality leather hides can be used for Aniline.

We hope our leather buying guide provides a little more clarity around the quality of leathers used for our race suits, motorcycle gloves, boots and motorcycle jackets.

Shop our range of leather goods today.