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TYPES OF LEATHER GLOSSARY

 

Want to know the difference between Nubuck, full grain, top grain and suede leathers? How about pigskin or Pittards leather?  Monod Sports knows that it can all be confusing at times, so here's a little definition page to help you out!  Monod's would like to thank Hanwag, Merrell, Keen, LaSportiva, Five-Ten, Pittards, and all the other manufacturers for their definitions. The definitions all appear in alphabetical order according to name (and NOT manufacturer). 

 

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FULL GRAIN LEATHER

Full grain leather is the best quality leather available; it is the first layer of leather once the hair of the animal has been removed.  It can only be referred to as "full grain" if there are few blemishes in the leather.  Advantages of full grain leather include:

 

 

  1. a smooth surface which is easy to clean
  2. it will last for years with proper care and maintenance
  3. it is naturally water repellent and breathable

Disadvantages of full grain leather include a more expensive price tag for the finished product and the need to gradually "break in" the product before wearing for long periods of time.

NUBUCK LEATHER

Nubuck leather is a top grain leather which has been lightly sanded to give it a velvety look and feel.  It should NOT be confused with suede leather, which is a split grain, and therefore, less expensive leather.  Advantages and disadvantages of Nubuck are similar to top grain leather EXCEPT it is not as easy to clean as a smooth top grain or full grain leather.

PIGSKIN LEATHER

Pigskin leather is made from . . . pig's skin!  It is a very soft, palable leather that is usually used in dress and casual shoes.  Advantages include that great out-of-the-box feel and a more classic dressier look to it, while a major disadvantage is that pigskin does not have the longevity of full grain, nubuck or top grain leathers.

PITTARDS® LEATHER

Pittards leather is an acknowledged superior material for gloving (usually in the palm area) and soft shoe leather.  It comes from the "CABRETTA" (Hairsheep) in Ethiopia and other sub-tropical regions. The material offers all the features required: a thin, tough structure giving strength and maximum dexterity, while being hard wearing and comfortable. To ensure continuity of supply and quality, Pittards has permanent staff residing in Ethiopia, working with local farmers and tanners. The skins purchased are all by-products of the meat industry in the country of origin.

 

ROUGH-OUT FULL GRAIN LEATHER

 

A "rough-out full grain leather" is a full grain leather that has had the leather placed rough side out when the boot is being manufactured (which means the smooth side of the leather will not be showing).  It does make the boot look like suede, but it is a full grain leather boot.  A rough out full grain leather is normally only found in alpine-mountaineering boots where the result insures maximum strength, support and abrasion resistance in an alpine setting.

 

SUEDE LEATHER (OR SPLIT GRAIN LEATHER)

 

Suede leather is made from the underside leather of a cow, pig or goat and does not include the more expensive tough top grain leather (it has been "split" away from the top grain).  The result is a softer leather, but suede is not as durable or water resistant as a top grain leather (such as Nubuck or the shiny leather).   Suede is sometimes referred to as "split grain" because the top grain is "split" from the underside leather. 

Advantages of suede include:

  1. its immediate comfort and no need to "break in" the product
  2. less expensive 

Disadvantages include a shorter life span and harder to clean..

 

TOP GRAIN LEATHER

 

Top grain leather is similar to full grain leather in terms that it is the first layer of leather once the hair of the animal has been removed.  However, top grain leather has superficial blemishes in it (which were caused by brand marks, barbed wire fences, etc. when the animal was alive).   Advantages include:

  1. it will last for years with proper care and maintenance
  2. it is naturally water repellent and breathable

Disadvantages include a more expensive price tag for the finished  product and the need to gradually "break in" the product before wearing for long periods of time.