Common "Leather myths and misconceptions"

Hi folks, posted this over one Reddit and it was fun to hear what people have heard over the years from customers or even other leatherworkers…let’s talk misconceptions and myths common to our craft!

I’m sure over the years a lot of us have gotten customers who will insist on something they’ve heard on the internet about a particular type of leather is true, insisting that I do or don’t use a specific type of leather because of something they’ve read.

Here are a few that I hear frequently some are very egregious, others just assumptions that are more or less harmless:

  • Full grain leather is the full thickness of the original hide. (probably the most demonstrably false of the bunch).
  • Genuine is a specific kind of (low quality) leather
  • Leather that has a light edge isn’t fully tanned
  • “x” type of leather is the best (veg-tan, full grain, bridle, CXL, etc…we all know there are a lot of good leathers)
  • All veg tan is natural veg (not that people say it but they get confused if I show them a “normal” leather like Essex or Dublin that happens to be veg).

Anyway those are a few I’ve heard…one bonus one I heard just this week: “You wouldn’t want to use veg-tan for a backpack because it will bleed color”…

Obviously some of these have a grain of truth that got exaggerated.

Which ones have you heard that bother you?

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Hey, great thoughts and gaining more educated insights into these can be really helpful to a lot of us. Thanks for sharing.

For me, a big one is “vegan leather”, and the many similar names for synthetic leather, that in most cases is just, plastic. It can in some ways lead to more confusion about leather, and even some misperceptions about quality if someone has something “leather” that is just plastic, and wonders why it cracks and the surface wears off so quickly.

There are some interesting “vegan leathers” that are now being developed that include natural plant fibers (pineapple leather, fruit leathers, etc.) which can get closer to the more natural fiber structure of leather than plastics can. So there might be some good ones ahead.

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Oh yeah that’s an annoying one…

And also to a more general one, that if something is leather that it is higher quality or more suited to a task than another material. Sometimes yes, and sometimes it varies.

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I have one! This has to do with leather grading.

One of the most common misconceptions that I’ve personally come across is that anything less than “A” or “B” grade is inferior quality leather. When in all reality (depending on supplier) the only difference between grades A, B, C, and D (or 1,2,3, and 4, etc.) is the aesthetic or cosmetic appearance, with “A” being the cleanest and “D” having more natural characteristics like range markings, insect bites, and so on. Especially in the case of Hermann Oak! Their leather is all tanned the same, in the same pits, the only difference between the grades is the cosmetic appearance. C or D grade is no less quality than A or B! Not only is this one of the most common misconceptions I’ve come across in my experience dealing with leather craft supply consumers, but it’s also one of the hardest to get some folks to understand.

Fun Fact: When you order A grade from a tannery, it doesn’t mean that it will be super clean. You’ll get the best they have at the time.

Absolutely! This is so on point and something I’d wish that the crafting community was more aware of - great addition :+1:

It really does come down to tannery, and each specific run. It’s also tricky since that can vary so much across tanneries, and even with variances between runs, it makes it tough to standardize in a controlled way across the globe.

It also makes for opportunities to get some great leather! Even with some blemishes, an extroidinary leather, tanned well, can be a joy to work with.

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This is great because it goes to what grade really are: classification by of the amount of defects on a hide, not the “google” answer of "full grain/top grain/genuine leather/ bonded…which is nonsense.

People need to also understand that all of these things vary a ton by project, a low grade hide is great if you’re cutting out something small like keyfobs but isn’t so great if you want belts. Bridle leather is great for a belt but won’t make a pair of gloves…so many people get this idea that “x leather” is the best and leave it at that when there’s so much variety that’s still “good leather.”

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