About Leather

At Sage Brown, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with the highest quality leather goods. From handbags and wallets to belts and briefcases, we understand the importance of investing in luxury leather products that will stand the test of time.
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing leather goods is the grade and quality of the leather. With so many different types of leather on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is the best fit for you.
To help you make an informed decision when shopping for leather goods, we've put together this guide on understanding the different grades and qualities of leather.

Factors That Determine Leather Quality

The quality of leather can vary greatly and is influenced by a number of factors.

Animal Used

Leather types

Cows are the most commonly used animals in the leather industry, however, sheep, goats and even deer can also be used. Some exotic animal skins, such as ostrich, python and crocodile are also used for leather production. 

Animal Age and Treatment

The age of the animal and the conditions in which it lived can also affect the characteristics of the leather. For example, younger animals provide softer leather than older ones, and animals that were protected from harsh weather will have a higher quality leather than those that were not.

Tanning Process

Leather tanning

The transformation of rawhide into leather is known as tanning. This process typically begins with hides obtained as a byproduct of the meat industry, meaning no animals are specifically killed for their hides. For example, calf leather is derived from calves raised for meat, and the raw skin still has hair on it. However, the quality of the hide can vary, and to ensure a high-quality leather, only hides from higher altitudes are used, which tend to have fewer imperfections such as bug bites.

The first step in the tanning process is to remove the hair from the hide, which is typically done by immersing it in a chemical solution for 24 hours. Although this process is now primarily done using machines, it used to be done by hand using a dull knife or specialized tool. The machine process not only removes the hair but also any remaining flesh or fat on the skin. After removing the hair, the raw hide is treated with a solution to lower the pH of the hide, preparing it for tanning. The edges are trimmed, and the leather is then thinned to a uniform thickness using machines. Up to this point, the process is the same for both vegetable-tanned and chrome-tanned leather.

Leather Grades

Leather layers

To understand how leather is made, it's important to first understand the different layers of a raw hide. A hide is composed of three main layers: the flesh, the corium, and the grain.

The flesh layer, which is the innermost layer, is tightly structured and forms a strong foundation for the animal. The middle layer, the corium, is the thickest part of the hide and is designed to act as a transportation system for nutrients and provide cushioning for the animal. The upper layer, the grain, is the visible layer that protects the animal from abrasions and drying out. The fibers in this layer are tightly knit, giving the hide a resilient surface.


Skiving Machine

At SageBrown, we take the utmost care in selecting the finest hides for our luxury leather goods. One important step in the crafting process is skiving, or thinning the leather. This is achieved by shaving away small layers of the hide using a specialised machine. The resulting leather is more supple and better suited for high-end leather products. We use the top-grain, or outer layer, of the hide for the visible parts of our products, where durability and strength are of the utmost importance. The split leather, or lower layer, is reserved for non-visible parts like suede lining which has now become our signature feature.

Vegetable Tanning

Vegetable tanned leather

Here at SageBrown we use vegetable-tanned leather in the production of some of our products. Vegetable tanning is a traditional method that uses natural materials, such as tree bark, leaves, and fruits, to tan the leather.

The process starts with selecting high-quality raw hides, which are then cleaned and soaked in water to make them pliable. The hides are then immersed in a solution made from tannin-rich tree bark, leaves, and fruits for several weeks. The hides are regularly scraped and stretched to ensure even absorption of the tannins. This process give the leather a unique natural color and texture, creating a distinctive look that is different from leather tanned using chemical methods.

After the tanning process, the leather is washed and dried, and then oiled and conditioned to increase its suppleness. By using vegetable-tanned leather, we are able to create luxury products that are not only stylish but also of the highest quality, with the leather being more durable, able to withstand the stresses of everyday use and developing a patina over time that gives a vintage look.

Chrome Tanning

Chrome tanning

Chrome-tanned leather is a type of leather that has been tanned using chrome salts. During the tanning process, the hides or skins are soaked in a solution that contains chromium salts, which helps to preserve the leather and make it more durable. Chrome tanning also gives the leather a more consistent color and texture, and can make it more resistant to water and other types of damage. Chrome-tanned leather is known for its vibrant and consistent colour, as it holds colour much better than vegetable-tanned leathers. This allows for a wider range of brighter colours. While vegetable-tanned leathers can be elegant and subdued, they cannot match the full colour spectrum of chrome-tanned leathers. Additionally, chrome-tanned leather is more heat-resistant, which makes burnishing, a process of using heat and wax to seal edges, easier to perform on it.

Watch this short YouTube video on how to tell the difference between veg and chrome tanned leather.

  Anyone who appreciates leather goods should be aware that there are different grades of quality for leather. By familiarizing oneself with the meaning of each grade and recognizing its key characteristics, one can make informed choices when selecting the appropriate leather for their needs. 

Watch this short YouTube video for the differences of veg and chrome tanned leather 

Full-Grain Leather

Full Grain Leather 

This is considered the highest grade of leather and is made from the top layer of cowhide and retains the full grain. It is the most durable and natural leather, retaining all of the characteristics of the animal hide, such as scars, scratches and markings. Because of its natural appearance, full-grain leather is considered the most beautiful and is often the most expensive.

Bridle Hide

At SageBrown, we are proud to use only the finest materials in the creation of our luxury leather goods. One such material is bridle hide leather, sourced from the UK, that is a premium quality leather known for its durability and strength. Made from the shoulder and back regions of cows, this leather is resistant to wear and tear, making it the perfect choice for high-end products such as briefcases, wallets, bags and belts. Trust SageBrown to bring you only the best in luxury leather goods.

Top-Grain Leather

Top Grain Leather

This grade of leather is made from the top layer of cowhide that has been sanded and buffed to remove imperfections. It's considered the second-highest grade of leather and is still strong and durable, but not as natural in appearance as full-grain. Top-grain leather is often used in shoes and leather goods because of its strength and durability. 

Corrected-Grain Leather

This is a leather that is made from the lower layers of cowhide, and it has had a finish applied to it to enhance its appearance. As a result, it is uniform in colour and texture, which makes it a versatile option. It may not be as durable as top-grain or full-grain leathers, but it is still a great choice for those looking for functional style.

Corrected grain leather


There are several methods that can be used to create different textures and finishes on leather, such as saffiano, mock crocodile, burnished, patent and pebble grain.


Saffiano leather purse

Saffiano texture is created by pressing a series of parallel lines into the surface of the leather. This is typically done with a specialised tool that has a series of raised lines that are pressed into the leather, leaving an impression that looks like a crosshatch pattern.

Mock Croc

Mock croc leather products

Crocodile texture is created by embossing the leather with a pattern that mimics the scales of a crocodile. This is typically done using a metal die with a raised pattern of scales that is pressed into the leather, leaving an impression that mimics the texture of a crocodile's skin.


Burnished leather

Burnished leather is created by using a combination of heat, pressure, and a burnishing tool like a wooden or bone slicker, to create a glossy, smooth finish. This is typically done on a full-grain leather, but can also be applied to top-grain leather. Burnishing can also be used to smooth down any rough edges or areas on the leather surface, giving a polished look.


Patent leather

 Patent leather is made by applying a high-gloss, waterproof coating to the surface of the hide, which gives it a shiny, reflective appearance. The process starts with a top grain leather that is sanded, buffed, and then coated with a synthetic material that gives it its shine. Patent leather is commonly used in handbags and other small leather goods and accessories. This process of coating hides means that it is less breathable and the leather may feel less supple and less comfortable over time. It is also not as durable as full-grain or top-grain leathers, especially if the surface of the coating is scratched or damaged, it may be hard to restore.

Pebble Grain

Pebble Grain

Pebble grain texture is created by pressing a series of small bumps into the surface of the leather. This is typically done with a specialized tool that has a series of raised dots that are pressed into the leather, leaving an impression that looks like a series of small pebbles.

In general, all those processes needs a heat press and strong pressure to apply the texture pattern into leather. And all of them are used after the tanning and coloring process of leather, in order to make sure the leather is firm enough to take the texture. And also the texture will stay on the leather after using.

Bonded Leather

This is a lower grade of leather that's made from scraps of leather that have been ground up and formed into sheets. It's considered the cheapest leather and not as durable as other grades.

Split Leather ( strangely named Genuine Leather )

This term is used to describe any leather that is made from the hide of an animal. However, it's important to note that "genuine leather" does not indicate the quality of the leather. It's often used to describe lower-grade leather goods that may not be made of high-quality hides.

Note: Neither of the above leather qualitites, bonded and genuine, are used to create a SageBrown product and this is just for your information

Full grain leather belt

When buying leather goods, it's important to be aware of the various grades and qualities of leather available. At Sage Brown, we take great care in sourcing and producing leather goods of the highest quality, so you can trust that you're investing in a product that will last. Additionally, you should consider the intended use of the product and your personal preferences when making a purchase. As an example, if you need a belt that will be worn often and exposed to regular wear, full-grain or top-grain leather would be an excellent option for its strength and durability.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a handbag for a special occasion, corrected-grain leather might be an option.

Corrected grain

At SageBrown, we only use the finest full-grain and top-grain leather to make our products. Our leather is sourced from the best tanneries and is mostly vegetable-tanned to ensure its long-lasting durability and natural look. We also make sure that our leather is ethically sourced and processed, so that you can enjoy our products with peace of mind.

Leathers to Die For

Leather finishes refer to the surface treatments and coatings that are applied to the leather after it has been tanned. These finishes can be used to enhance the look, feel, and durability of the leather, as well as to protect it from water and other elements. Some common types of leather finishes include:

1. Aniline: This is a type of finish that is applied to full-grain leather and it's intended to retain the natural look of the leather. It allows the natural color variations, markings and imperfections to show through, giving the leather a more authentic look.

2. Semi-aniline: This finish is also used on full-grain leather, but it includes a light coating of pigment to even out the color and hide some imperfections. It still retains the natural feel and appearance of the leather.

3. Pigmented: This type of finish is applied to top-grain leather, and it includes a thicker coating of pigment to even out the color and hide any imperfections. It provides a more consistent color and texture, and it's also more resistant to stains, scratches and sunlight.

4. Nubuck: This is a type of finish that is applied to full-grain leather and it's characterized by a soft, velvety nap on the surface. It's achieved by sanding the grain side of the leather and then applying a coating to protect the surface.

5. Suede: This type of finish is created by buffing the flesh side of the leather to create a soft, fuzzy nap. It's often used for making shoes, bags and other fashion items.

Contrast suede lining

 Quality is of utmost importance to us and we refuse to compromise in this regard. To enhance the premium nature of our full grain hides, we opt for real suede linings for a majority of our products.

6. Nappa: refers to a specific type of finish applied to high-quality, full-grain leather. The finish is achieved by "drumming" the leather, which results in a soft and comfortable texture while maintaining the natural appearance of the fabric.

7. Oil/Wax pull-up: This finish is achieved by applying oils or wax to the surface of the leather, it's mostly used on full-grain leather and results in a softer, more supple leather that can have a darker color when stretched or pulled. It's also highly prized for its characteristic patina that develops over time.

The choice of finish will depend on the intended use of the leather and the desired appearance and feel. It's important to be aware of the finishes when purchasing leather goods, as they can affect the durability, appearance and overall quality of the leather.

and Finally.........

After being tanned, graded and finished, the leather pieces are cut and shaped and then sewn or woven together to create the final product.

Woven leather bag


At Sage Brown, we believe in the importance of ethical and sustainable leather production. We consider animal welfare, chemical use, and environmental impact in every step of our process.

Animal welfare is of the utmost importance to us. We ensure that the animals used for our leather are treated humanely and without unnecessary suffering, both during their lives and at the time of slaughter. We also take into account the impact of our production on wild animal populations, especially when it comes to exotic leathers like crocodile or snake.

We are committed to using eco-friendly, non-toxic, and sustainable tanning methods to minimize the use of harmful chemicals and protect human health and the environment.

We take the environmental impact of our production seriously, and work to minimize our impact through sustainable tanning methods and sourcing materials from responsible and sustainable sources.

As a consumer, you can trust that when you choose Sage Brown, you are making an informed and ethical choice for high-quality leather goods that are produced with respect for animals and the environment.


At Sage Brown, we specialise in crafting luxury leather goods that are beautiful, durable, and made to last. However, as you may already know, not all leather is the same. To make an informed decision when purchasing leather products, it's essential to understand the different grades and qualities of leather available in the market.

Throughout this blog, we have delved into the various types of leather and the methods used to produce them. We have also discussed the factors that affect the quality of leather such as the animal source, age, treatment and tanning process. Additionally, we have emphasised the importance of considering ethical issues in leather production.

It's important to remember that the quality and grade of leather can significantly impact the appearance, feel, and longevity of the final product. By gaining a deeper understanding of the different grades and qualities of leather available, you can shop with confidence and make an investment in a high-quality leather product that will be treasured for years to come.

Thank you for reading our blog. We hope that you found the information provided helpful and informative.