Once the natural hide is harvested, and the beef industry is the largest supplier of this produce, it goes through an old-world process of “tanning,” that if done properly, will preserve, protect and improve on its, beauty, durability and longevity. It done incorrectly, it will be destroyed and will fail soon after it is used to manufacture, shoes, furniture, clothing, belts, etc. Very few hides move into the category of, 100% Top Grain, full new buck hides. Others will be rejected and reclassified as splits, seconds, or ground up into fibers used for many other products (more on this later), including dog food!
So when you see advertised, “leather sofa or chair,” how can you be sure you are getting real leather? The answer will only be offered if you question the salesman, read the manufacturer’s label or push for clarification to what kind of, “leather,” you are getting. If you were to look at a cross section of the skin/hide, you would see layers withing the hide. There are two distinct layers. The top layer is where the hair of the animal is connected, right below that is a fiber layer of connected tissue that is crossed at 45-degree angles that firmly holds the hair follicles and is the strongest. The next layer is connected tissue but is more horizontal in its character and not as strong and does not have the natural markings and dimples of the top layer. The hide, in its full thickness, is too thick for many items, like furniture, more suitable for belts, show soles, etc. The hide is split horizontally into two slices. The top hide is the highest quality and in the tanning process the hair is gently removed and tumbled through an extensive process to prepare it for softening, coloring and conditioning. The thinner, second layer, shows no sign of the original top grain and appears like suede.
The top grain hide tanning process, which permanently alters the protein structure of the skin, making it more durable and less susceptible to decomposition, and also possibly coloring it. I have an amazing video posted on the PremiereHTS web site at Leather Tanning Video. I say all this to get to the point, if it isn’t 100% real leather, you are about to make a horrible mistake. The The furniture industry has invented a product or two that would fool the best of us, like a Cubic Zirconium fake diamond fools everyone!
The big lie is BONDED LEATHER! Or there are a few others like, Leather Matched,” reconstituted leather, faux leather and just plain vinyl matched leather. Who could ever forget the1960’s Naugahyde! Today the monster is Bonded Leather! You need to search the internet and read about the polyurethane, petroleum based, plastic imitation. You will be told the wonders of Bonded leather yet is it the furthest thing from leather on the planet. Cheap it is, durable, comfortable, reliable it is NOT! PLEASE, do not be fooled like so many before you. Even leather matched is taking split leathers and using about 15% to 20% on top surfaces of your furniture and matching the rest of the chair with a vinyl, plastic product produced to look like leather, yet in time will become brittle and where sewn together with real leather, which becomes supple, seams will fail.
You will pay more for the real McCoy, but you won’t be buying new furniture again within a few years, while the real leather furniture will last near a lifetime! “Pay me now or Pay me Later… “Because Nobody was ever sorry for buying the BEST!”
Michael Laurino CEO/President PremiereHTS Home Theater Seating