Whether you're buying a leather couch or a leather bag, read this quick tutorial and know what you're getting.
4 Basic Kinds of Leather
This is the best of the best. Taken from the strongest part of the hide where the fibers are tightly interlocked. There will be visible exterior scaring adding to its character.
Split from the top layer of the hide to mask external blemishes, it sacrifices some strength in favor of aesthetic texture. Beautiful but not as strong.
The third tier of leather, this is the leftover portion with horizontal fibers that can separate more easily. Best used as a lining where no real stress will occur.
This is the pressboard of leather, where the leftover scraps from shavings are glued together in a process similar to vinyl production. Cheap and to be avoided.
I was annoyed learning that "genuine" leather was so far down the totem pole, and more pissed off that "Made with Genuine Leather" could simply mean vinyl with a leather trim. That's why it's important to do your research and know your vendor. Companies like Saddleback Leather only use the best full grain leather and they are damn proud. Their bags are also expensive and rightly so - if it means I only have to buy it once in a lifetime. It's important to invest in things you'll enjoy owning and will stand the test of time.