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What is Genuine Leather?

When many people think about leather, they frequently only consider whether the leather is real or not. Although, there are other types of leather that one should consider. For example, there is genuine leather. Genuine leather is a type of material that contains actual leather in the material.

The name is a bit misleading. You may think when you hear “genuine leather” that it is completely real and of good quality. Although, this is not necessarily true. In this article, we will answer the question of “what is genuine leather?” by explaining how it is made, the uses of it, pros and cons, how durable it is and lastly how to care for genuine leather.

What is Genuine Leather?


Like we stated before, in order for a material to be classified as genuine leather, it simply only needs to contain some real leather within. When you hear the word “genuine” to describe a material, one may think this means real in its entirety and of good condition. As far as genuine leather is concerned, this is not completely true. The only requirement is that there is at least some actual leather contained in the material. 

The name is vague for a reason. When you purchase or utilize genuine leather, you are not getting fake leather, but you are also not getting the best quality leather either. You will not be receiving full grain or top grain. Typically it is stripped from hide on the lower or inner layers and can be classified as split leather.  

How is it Made?


As we stated before, genuine leather is frequently considered “split leather” because of how it is made. It is generally stripped from, inner or lower layers of the hide. Because the higher or outer layers of the skin are typically classified as the “top grain” or of higher quality, the area in which this leather is obtained deems it to be of lower quality. 

Due to the fact that the thickness of skin determines how many layers will be used for the leather that is stripped, it is possible that genuine leather can contain intermediate layers, which would mean it is closer to or could possibly contain top grain. Although, genuine leather could also be a mix of artificial materials, scraps of other various leathers and bonding materials. 

Uses of Genuine Leather

While it may not be of the highest quality, it is at least a real type of leather and can be used as such. Some of the ways in which genuine leather can be used are for fashion, such as clothing, shoes, belts and other accessories. Like most leather products, it can be used for many different items. It just depends on the quality you are expecting for your item. 


You may also find genuine leather being made into heavy-duty items such as utility builts or weapon holsters. Because it is still leather, it is still capable of being used for such items. While not as common, you could also find genuine leather being made into furniture such as couches. Most items made of genuine leather are mass produced and not as special or unique as other leather items. 

Pros and Cons of Genuine Leather

As with anything, there are some pros and cons as to using genuine leather. Some of the pros for this type of material are:


While it may not actually be of the best quality, the look of this leather is still pretty decent, especially for the price. Genuine leather may be found to be cheaper than other types of leather and is still capable of holding up and looking nice. If you don’t want to spend the money of getting leather that is cut from outer grain and is of higher quality, genuine leather may be the perfect alternative for you.

Easy to Maintain

Genuine leather has been known to be easy to keep up with. The process of caring for it is simple, and as long as you take those easy steps you will have a decent looking piece of leather for several years.

While these pros may seem enticing, it is also important to consider the cons as well. Some of the cons to purchasing an item made of genuine leather are:

Genuine Doesn’t Mean “Good” In This Case

As we’ve discussed, the name is a bit misleading. A person may see “genuine leather” and think they are receiving high quality leather that will hold up and look good for years to come. This is hardly the case. When you purchase genuine leather, you are not purchasing top tier material. Over time you may see your genuine leather has obtained stretch marks. When you first purchase your item, it may look good at the time, but over the years it does not hold up as well as other types of leather.


While leather may be convenient for cold days, during the summer months or warmer days, you may find yourself hot and sweaty. If you are planning on purchasing an item made of genuine leather, it is a good idea to purchase one that you plan to use and can use during cooler months. This way you will get the proper use out of it and will not be taking it off when you’re dripping with sweat!

Those Who Aren’t Familiar May Be Ripped Off

Due to the fact that the name of the leather can trick people into believing they are receiving something of high quality, vendors can take advantage of this. Many people will overcharge for items made of genuine leather because they believe that others will think they are receiving something of higher quality than they actually are. This is why it is a good idea to do your research on a type of material before purchasing. 

How Durable is Genuine Leather?

Real, full-grain leather is the highest quality leather you can purchase and can last you up to a century. Although, because it is not nearly the same quality as full-grain leather, genuine leather is not nearly as durable and will not last as long. No matter how well you take care of your genuine leather item, it is still going to peel, crack and fade overtime. You can expect your item made from genuine leather to last between five and ten years.

How Do I Care for my Genuine Leather Item?

While your item may not last as long as you want it to, with proper care you can longer use out of it than if you did not care for it. No need to fear, caring for your genuine leather can be easily done. In order to care for your leather, you will need to use a damp cloth and wipe off your item. You should do this regularly, especially if you are located in a dry, dusty location. 

Another step you can take to care for your leather is to polish it. Polishing is a good idea for leather items because moisture elements are contained in the polish and can help moisturize your leather. By polishing it, you can try and avoid your item drying out and cracking. While you can not expect for your leather to shine from the polishing, it will help keep it in better condition.

What are the Right Leather Care Products?

When it comes to maintaining your genuine leather, it is a good idea to use the best types of leather care products. You can either buy a leather cleaner or a leather conditioner. Some companies may even sell them together. An example of this is a product made by Chemical Guys. They sell a cleaner and a conditioner together that can be used on essentially anything leather, including furniture, clothes, shoes and more. 

How do I Condition my Leather?

Conditioning your leather is a step you can take to preserve it and help it last longer. In order to condition your leather, first you need to decide if you are going to use wax, oil or cream. Once you have narrowed down your selection, you would want to test a spot on your leather first. Once you have done this and it looks as though it is working like you want it to, then you can apply it to the rest of your leather. 

When it comes to leather, it is a good idea to have a thorough knowledge of what you are getting before you make your purchase. For example, it is easy to find yourself mislead or even ripped off when it comes to genuine leather. Genuine, in this sense, simply means that it is in fact leather, and not that is of good quality. We hope that by reading this article you will have a better understanding of this type of material and know what you want to purchase in the future. If you decide to go with genuine leather, we hope you know how to care for it as well now too.