When buying leather shoes or handbags, many ask, “What is the best leather?” The answer is simple, full-grain chrome-tanned leather is the best, but vegetable-tanned full-grain leather is good, too. Even the most knowledgeable leather expert would have a tough time in a blind “touch test.”
Remember that commercial with Ricardo Montalbán (best known as Mr. Roarke on the TV series Fantasy Island) as the spokesman for Chrysler, expounding in his rich baritone voice the virtues of “rich Corinthian leather”? Have you ever heard Corinthian leather used in any other context?
Corinthian leather was supposed to be a rich high-class leather; when asked by David Letterman about the term, Corinthian leather, he admitted that it meant nothing and was a product of the advertising agency’s imagination. The “leather” for the Chrysler Cordoba was made in Newark, New Jersey, from plain old cow’s leather. Mostly, a car’s interior is leather-faced but mostly vinyl.
The Best Quality Leather is Full-Grain Leather
If you have been keeping up with our collection of leather, in the article 4 Basic Leather Qualities, an Overview Guide to Leather Grades we discussed that full-grain leather is smooth and luxurious, simply the best. It’s also very beautiful, durable, and expensive, but you get what you pay for, and full-grain is followed very closely by top-grain leather. The difference between the two is so close. What type of leather you should use depends mainly on what the product will be when complete.
Genuine leather is the lowest quality and should not be considered for leather goods for daily use, as it will not stand up. OK, for a belt, but eventually, the glue will begin to break down, the belt will fall apart, and your pants will fall.
Chrome Tanned Versus Vegetable Tanned
The basic difference between chrome-tanned and vegetable tanning is the chemicals used to tan the leather. Chrome-tanned leather’s finish is usually thinner and suppler than vegetable-tanned leather; without tanning, either leather would be hard and putrid.
Men have used the tanning process for over 8000 years; read the article, The History of Leather as We Know It, in CP Slippers Brand Book. The fundamental principle of tanning has remained the same all those years: to modify the collagen protein level in the hide by changing its molecular structure by tannin soaking.
Tannin from trees (vegetable tanning) comes from the bark of trees like mimosa and chestnut, the same chemical structure in wine that makes a good wine dry. Tannin makes the leather dry by mixing with the protein to draw out liquids.
CP Slippers are hand-crafted by leather artisans at CP Slippers International in Elche (Alicante), Spain.