Why Leather Type Selection Matters


Leather, as we recognize it today, has been a rich part of fashion, global trade, and craftsmanship since ancient Greece. While the term "leather" is used as a generic descriptor for any animal skin that has been finished, dyed, or tanned, it most often refers to cow skin. Cow-based leather comprises approximately 65% of all leather worldwide and is incredibly versatile. Depending on the way it is harvested and treated, leather can be efficiently used in applications ranging from decorative home goods to fine furniture to durable protective equipment.

Top-Grain Leather is the finest portion of leather derived from the outer layer of skin. This outer layer can be thick, (which may or may not contain the corium, a thicker underlayer), or impressively thin for more intricate and artistic applications. Even the thinnest top-grain leather is prized for its durability, derived from its natural, densely-packed fibrous construction.
Top-grain leather may be presented in its natural state after tanning and finishing, or it may be processed into corrected grain leather; this technique applies a judicious buffing technique that removes surface irregularities for a more uniform appearance. Nubuck leather is fashioned by using the same concept of buffing top-grain leather to create a velvet-like, plush feel. The texture is accomplished by napping the fibers of the grain side to a velvet-like consistency, an action similar to teasing human hair.
Split Leather is a useful and attractive material created from the previously-mentioned corium. Once the top grain layer has been removed, the corium is finished and refined to create a leather product that resembles top-grain but lacks its overall density and superior looks. Split leather is used for applications in which leather material is required but aesthetics are less of a concern. For example, if a furniture company wants to create a full leather chair, the surfaces that come into contact with the user - the back, armrests, and footrest - may be made of top-grain leather for appearance. Split leather would then be used for areas such as the external back and sides of the chair to create a "100% leather" chair.
Patent Leather is simply a split leather product that has been finished with a coating and polished to a high shine; this technique is very popular for use in shoes (notably military dress shoes) and accessories like women's purses.
Bicast Leather is also a split material, but instead of a glossy finish, a vinyl finish is used and potentially embossed with a texture as well. This treatment is common in clothing for its durability but comes at the cost of material flexibility and comfort.
Bonded Leather is the lowest tier of leather and is more of a composite material than true leather. Leather scraps and fibers are mixed with a medium or adhesive, which is then applied to a fabric or mesh and finished to resemble finished leather. In bonded leather, these fibers may constitute as little as 10% of the overall makeup of the material, making bonded leather somewhat inconsistent in its appearance, feel, and durability.

At Azio, we only use the finest top-grain leather to create our luxury retro keyboards, mouse pads, and mouse products. Because computer peripherals are touched so frequently throughout the day, we recognize that our discerning users need a product made to "go the distance" while maintaining stylish looks. The beauty of our top-grain leather products is that their surfaces and delicate trim accents wear evenly and grow more rich-looking with time, making our computer peripherals as much a work of fashion as function.


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