Are You Paying The Right Price For Genuine Leather Bags In Singapore?

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When we hit the local markets of Singapore while on holiday, we were surprised to find so many shops selling "genuine leather" wallets, purses and handbags. The prices were unbelievably low, and we simply could not resist. The result? We ended up with a mélange of pretty looking bags that soon started showing signs of wear – there were cracks along the seams, blotchy brown marks where the bag generally rests on the waist or hips, and rusting clips that begged for retirement. 

It took us one bad bag-buying binge to realize that although genuine leather sounds like "original leather," or even "high-quality" leather, which is hardly the case. Upon further investigation, our fashion-savvy and design-savvy friends revealed that genuine leathers are one of the worst qualities of leather you can find in the market. 

Now, don’t get us wrong. Genuine leather is also animal hide. However, it is not the best your money can buy. And I for one, would love to reinvest the money in one full grain leather bag, rather than end up with a closet-full of cheaper replicas that don’t even last one change of season. 

Genuine Vs. Full Grain Leather: Quality Difference Among Leather Bags That Singapore Offers 

Recognizing full grain premium quality leather has become mandatory for the leather goods shoppers in Singapore due to the abundance of the low-grade, “genuine” leather bags you can find almost in every shop in the markets. Initially, it might seem a bit daunting, but once you gain your fair share of experience with the real premium quality Italian bags, you will become nothing short of a pro shopper of leather bags Singapore has in store. 

Leather is processed animal hide. The best Italian leather never comes from pigs. It is always cowhide that the artisans process and tan religiously like the old days. Therefore, the outer side of any leather will have micro-sized holes where the animal's fur would have been. These micro pores are what the experts and designers refer to as the grains. 

Since it is the upper layer of the hide, it has a dense quality, and it has natural water- resistant properties. It keeps the sweat and water from reaching the bottom part of the leather. The middle and lower layers of full grain leather contain the collagen and elastin. These preserve the elasticity or flexibility of leather. The presence of all the layers in full- grain leather keeps it looking young, smooth, and uncracked for years. 

How Does Tanning Affect The Quality Of Leather Bags That The Market Sells? 

The primary classification of leather begins from the choice of cattle and section of the hide. However, since Italian leather artisans hardly deal with anything other than premium cowhide and bridle leather, you could easily say that the distinction begins from the tanning process. Tanning involves removing the hair, brushing off the imperfections and making the leather as weatherproof as possible with minimal intervention. 

Today, two forms of tanning are widespread across the world – 

- Vegetable Tanning:  it is the more desirable tanning process that uses only natural (plant-based) extracts. It is gentle on the leather and seasons it for prolonged use. It produces high-quality, smooth leather that you can find in the Italian design houses and fashion labels in Singapore. 

- Chrome Tanning:  it involves chrome-based minerals. It is a much quicker method as compared to vegetable tanning. However, the results are not as delicate as vegetable tanning. Every premium Italian leather bag designer worth their salt invests their time and money in the vegetable leather tanning procedures. 

Even today, the premium designers rely on handcrafting methods they precede and succeed leather tanning. Precise handcrafting bestows each bag with a unique character that is impossible to find in the mass-produced fashion bags in Singapore market. 

What is top grain leather? How is it different from full grain leather bags? Top grain leather is what you get when you sand down the topmost layer of full grain leather. That generally happens when the uppermost layer of the skin has imperfections that require removal for aesthetic purposes. Since it loses one natural layer, top grain leather is slightly less tensile as compared to the full grain leather. 

While it develops patina just like their full-grain counterpart, and it does acquire a distinct "personality," if two bags of top grain and full grain leather have comparable pricing, you should always go with the full grain variant. In Singapore, top grain also goes by "corrected" full grain leather. It is easy to confuse between the two when distinguishing by the name only, but asking a helpful sales representative at a trustworthy designer store should clear up your confusion. 

What Is Suede In Leather Bags? 

If you have traversed across the expansive designer bag collections in the Singapore market, you are bound to ask this question at least once. Almost all leather aficionados want to know more about suede and its distinction from full grain leather. 

According to experts, suede is also leather, but it is the inner surface of the hide. If you have a genuine full-grain leather purse or tote right now, try to feel the inside of it. It should be soft, fuzzy, and a bit grainy. Sometimes, the manufacturers turn the leather inside-out so that the suede part is on the outside. When that happens, the suede retains the original strength and resistance of the leather. 

However, in most cases, to make suede softer and more flexible, the designers remove the outermost layer (grain) of the hide. Although it makes the resulting material more pliable than leather, it does not have the same longevity as your full grain leather would. 

What Should You Pick From Among All The Types Of Leather Bags? 

When you are thinking about making a long-term investment, purchasing a full-grain leather bag makes more sense than ending up with a “genuine” or “corrected” leather purse for a similar price. If you are particularly fond of suede, ask the designer or sales rep if it still retains the top (grain) layer. Unless the suede tote or satchel has all the hide layers intact, you are looking at a short-term fashion statement that will likely snap under the weight of a few notebooks and a tablet.

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