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Leather Buyer's Guide

Date: 15-Jan-2013 - Written by Debbie Davies

At Just4Leather we only stock the highest quality goods at value-for-money prices and our customers value our expertise in selecting these items. Let us share some of the tricks of the trade in tracking down those exsquisite leather pieces.

The difference between good leather and bad leather is sort of like the difference between a luxury car and a budget one.. Brand new, they may both look shiny and attractive on the outside, but it's what's on the inside that will make all the difference in the long run. And like most things, when it comes to leather, the key is how it feels. Good leather should feel silky, smooth and substantial.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

1. Is it real?

Check to see it the leather is real by inspecting the backing of the skin. If there appears to be a woven fabric on the underside, it's not leather. It's vinyl.

2. Does it smell?

At Just4Leather we always have a good whiff of our products. It's hard for natural leather not to have that telltale earthy aroma. Vinyl or highly corrected leathers obviously won't smell, well at least of leather anyway!

3. How have the edges been finished?

Look for hand edging or edge staining. Paint is applied and then buffed to a smooth finish. The process is repeated to build a durable edge. Poor quality items have edges that are left unfinished.

4. Does it have collars?

For well made wallets and bags, look inside for interior leather collars—leather bands that reinforce the edges of wallet billfolds and inner bag pockets.

5. Does it stretch or bend well?

Try to bend or pull the leather. There should be no indication that it will crack, stretch or break. There shouldn't be much change in color when the leather is pulled either.

6. Is the stitching straight?

It's not easy sewing through leather, but any brand doing it right has hearty machines and skilled craftsmen carefully stitching their products.

WHAT TO AVOID

1. Are there any loose threads, crooked stitches or glue streaks?

These are the telltale signs of poor craftsmanship.

2. Do the zips run smoothly?

Check to see if all the hardware works properly.

3. Is the surface of the leather uneven?

A lot of inconsistencies or imperfections in the color and texture of the leather is a sign of poor quality.

4. Are the edges folded?

Edges that are folded over so you can't see how poorly they have been finished. This is often used to cover up leather that hasn't been fully tanned or dyed, which will likely fade and crack with wear.

5. Does it smell strange?

Watch out for leathers that smell rotten or heavily of chemicals. These tend not to go away very easily.

6. Does it feel unusually light?

Be wary of leather items that are surprisingly light. Quality pieces should have a certain amount of heft.

Not all quality leather items come with a guarantee, but a good amount do. If you purchase a leather product with a long (or even lifetime) guarantee, it's a good sign that you're getting your money's worth.

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