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Leather Luggage Buying Guide

by Jessica Gezon

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Cognac leather luggage set

Buying leather luggage is an investment in your trip. When you buy leather luggage, you're committing to quality, and the rest of your trip will follow suit(case). Once you've decided to treat yourself to leather luggage, there are still some choices ahead of you; leather itself is available with a wide variety of treatments. Read on to learn about types of leather luggage and what's right for you.

Types of Leather for Luggage:

  1. Full-grain leather: Full-grain leather is leather that hasn't been buffed or sanded, so it still shows the natural imperfections in the hide. Rather than being viewed as blemishes, these imperfections add to the appeal of the leather. In addition to a unique look, full-grain leather offers the best durability of the leather options

  2. Top-grain leather: Top-grain leather is sometimes mistakenly billed as the best quality leather because of its name. In reality, it's slightly less durable than full-grain leather because its surface has been sanded, so it's less breathable than full-grain leather and won't develop the protective patina. Top-grain leather is valued because it has a greater resistance to staining than full-grain leather and is typically less expensive.

  3. Bonded leather: Bonded leather is essentially a man-made product. It's a leather product created of discarded leather fibers bonded together. Bonded leather offers the look of leather at a greatly reduced price, so it's often used on book covers and furniture. The creation of bonded leather is more environmentally friendly than the production of traditional leather. Bonded leather often features a shiny high-gloss finish.

  4. Ultra-bonded leather: Ultra-bonded leather is similar to bonded leather, but typically features a Nappa finish.

  5. Bycast (or bicast) leather: Bycast leather is known for its durability and strength. Bicast leather is composed of a split leather topped with an embossed layer of polyurethane. Bycast leather offers a consistent texture that's easier to maintain than full-grain leather.

  6. Nappa (or Napa) leather: Nappa leather is extremely soft leather known for is suppleness. It's a type of chrome-tanned leather.

  7. Pigmented leather: Pigmented leather is leather that has been dyed a specific color. Pigmented leather will be the same, uniform color throughout the luggage.

  8. Harness hide cowhide: Harness hide cowhide is top-grain cowhide soft enough for use in gloves. Harness hide has had nothing removed, so it's strong, durable and thick, often with a smooth Nappa finish. This is a leather designed to showcase the hide's natural beauty.

  9. Milano leather: Milano leather, known for its excellent durability, is also silky and soft.

  10. Boston leather: Boston leather features a semi-gloss finish and is somewhat textured. Its durability makes it ideal for briefcases, luggage and carry-ons.

  11. Top-grain Nappa cowhide: Top-grain Nappa cowhide is drum-dyed leather. The dermis is split from the upper part of the hide to produce the supplest leather available. As indicated by the name, Nappa cowhide has a smooth Nappa finish.

  12. Genuine leather: After the top-grain leather is removed, the bottom of the leather that remains is known as genuine leather.

  13. Suede: Suede is created by running the leather surface on a wheel to separate the fibers. The result is a supple leather with a soft nap.

  14. Man-made leather: "Leather" that's created from man-made products, like plastic, synthetic materials bonded to fabric and rubber, isn't true leather. Man-made leather is sometimes known as pleather, a combination of the words plastic and leather.

  15. Milano Feather-Lite man-made leather: This product is a man-made Italian material with a soft feel and lightweight properties. Like other man-made leathers, it combines synthetic materials to create a leather-like product, often at a fraction of the cost of traditional leather. Milano Feather-Lite is a luxury man-made product.

  16. Florida leather: Florida leather is genuine leather with a lightly textured grain.

  17. Deerskin: Generally very expensive, deerskin is prized for its durability and softness. A pebble-grain texture is common, as is a somewhat spongy quality.

  18. Colombian vaquetta: Vaquetta leather, infused with the rugged beauty of cattle that have roamed the wild plains of South America, is luxurious and soft. Natural qualities of the leather, like range marks, creases and scars, are valued and allowed to show in the finished product. View these imperfections as confirmation it's the real thing. Colombian leather's buttery soft feel makes it a luxurious choice.

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