It can be difficult to tell when first viewing that bag or those gloves that you feel the need to make yours. Is the leather any good? Will it last for years and age gracefully? Or will it dry out and start to fall apart?
Going through 5 easy steps will help you pick the good stuff.
1. Exposed grain
Verify you can see the natural grain in the leather. Leather that is over-pigmented to cover the grains could be covering up defects and poor quality. Leather should be dyed all the way through and the grain allowed to show ― aniline dyeing ― rather than having merely a surface coating applied.
2. Compact fibres
Examine the grain to check it is dense. If the grain is loose, meaning the fibre structure is not compact, the leather will be less durable.
3. Good smell
Smell the leather. Avoid leather that has a slight plastic smell to it.
4. Good feel
Feel the leather. It should feel soft and smooth — free of bumps, and flex easily. It shouldn't feel like there is a clear coat covering the leather.
See if you can find exposed edges, or look at the reverse side, and confirm that you can see the fibre structure. If you can't, it could be fake leather.
At Waremakers we have gone through these steps for you. All leather products on display in the shop are, of course, made from superior quality leathers.
Thanks to Doe Leather and Michael Pearson for comprising decades of expertise and helping put this little guide together.