Full-grain leather is the highest quality leather material being used to make leather leggings and other designer leather fashion. It is made from the most durable and strongest part of the animal hide and is left unsanded and un-buffed unlike what is commonly found in other types of leather. By doing this you allow full-grain leather to retain the most natural characteristics of the hide. Full-grain leather has a higher fiber strength and durability that allows a patina to develop over time as the material begins to age.
Full-grain leather can be coated with an aniline finish to dye the leather material. When an aniline coating is used on full-grain leather it allows the natural grain to show through without affecting the breathability of the material. For this reason, full-grain leather products retain all the natural markings and blemishes of the hide, adding to the leather’s character and unique appeal. If you look closely you can even see tiny hair follicles and pores with the use of a magnifying glass on the smooth and unaltered surface of the leather. This particular feature is used to help classify the level of quality of full-grain leather products and help distinguish it from other types of leather. Other features and characteristics can include fat wrinkles, natural variations in the grain texture, growth lines, shading, and small scars. All of these are used to determine the authenticity of a full-grain leather product.
How is Full-Grain Leather Made
Full-grain leather is usually sourced from cowhide, as it is much more durable in comparison to other animal hides. This is because the structure of the fibers is very tightly interlinked in cowhide. However, some leather products also feature full-grain leather sourced from the hide of goats, sheep, pigs, and even exotic animals like kangaroo, alligators, and ostriches.
Full-grain leather manufacturing involves three main processes – preparation, tanning, and crusting. After these steps, the leather is given an aniline coating to help retain both its shine and appeal.
- Preparation: The animal hide is initially treated in order to preserve it as well as make it less susceptible to rot for a period of time. The material is then soaked in water to rehydrate and clean it. After it is rehydrated the hide is then dipped in an alkali solution to help remove the proteins and natural fats from the hide. At this point, the hair and subcutaneous materials along with the fat on the skin are removed. The following step is focused on splitting the hide into horizontal layers which help differentiate the quality of the leather. The top layer is then limed and de-limed to remove any of the remaining proteins and natural greases. It is then put through a process called slicking, which involves manually removing the fat inside the skin. And lastly, the hide is bleached and pickled to help tanning agents penetrate the material.
- Tanning: After the animal hide is prepped and ready it is subjected to a tanning process that helps turn the rawhide into a more flexible and stable material. This process helps make sure that the material will not decay and is easier to work with. There are a variety of different tanning methods that can be used depending on both the hide and the final purpose of the leather. The most commonly used tanning method is one that incorporates the use of a chromium sulfate solution. The hide is then put in a rotating drum with the solution and soaked over a period of time. After the material is evenly infused, it is subjected to a sub-process called basification, which increases the material’s pH levels and fixes the tanning agent to the leather.
- Crusting: The tanned hide is then sent in to undergo a crusting process. The crusting process involves thinning the hide, tanning it again, and then lubricating it. Although the main aim of crusting is to dry the hide into a flexible and softer material it is also during this process that coloring may be added. Afterward, the leather is given a finish or surface coating through the use of oils, embossing, brushing, buffing, padding, glazing, or spraying method. This gives the leather a shiny and luxurious finish.
How to Maintain Full Grain Leather
Full-grain leather requires very low care and maintenance when compared to other types of leather. Simply wiping the leather product with a clean cloth should be enough to get rid of any dust or dirt buildup on its surface. However, you should take the utmost care while storing a product that is made of full-grain leather. It is important that you do not place them near a radiator or expose them to extreme heat, as this can dry out the leather material. The best conditions to have when storing your full-grain leather product is in a controlled environment that has a humidity of around 40% to 50%. This will ensure that your leather product maintains its moisture content.
You can find many different types of leather cleaning and conditioning products on the market today for your leather jackets and other leather clothing items. This makes it all the more important that you choose the right product for your leather goods whether it be a skirt, jacket or purse. Cleaning products and conditioners having extra virgin olive oil which can be a good way to help maintain the softness and subtle flexibility of your full-grain leather as well as prevent it from drying out and becoming stiff. Always make sure to first test the cleaning product or conditioner on an unnoticeable area of your leather to make sure that it does not leave any unwanted effect on your goods before applying it all over. At SPRWMN, we only use the highest quality imported lamb leather to make our supple and luxurious clothing.