Guide to Types of Leather
March 15, 2023

Guide to Types of Leather


When people first hear the term full grain leather, they assume it means that the leather will look grainy or pebbled. That is not the case. In fact, full grain leather is the real deal. Let's first understand the different layers of a hide.

The grain is the outermost layer of the hide where the cow’s hair grows. The grain is where the animal’s fibres are tightest, creating a hard-to-penetrate, tough exterior, that is also highly resistant to water.

The corium is where the fibres loosen up, as this section connects fat or collagen to the animal’s muscle. The corium is commonly known as suede, as these loose fibres create soft, malleable leather. 

 Full grain refers to the full, unadulterated hide in its natural form. This is what gives the leather its depth, richness and character. 


On the other hand, top grain leather has been altered to sand away any impurities and imperfections that may be visible on the top layer of the hide. How you prefer your leather to look is a personal choice but the natural characteristics visible on full-grain leather are one of the many attractive qualities of the product.  


Beyond just appearances, the sanding process of top grain also weakens the hide. Durability is an important point to consider when purchasing a pair of full grain leather shoes. At Arden Teal, our products are made to last, so crafting our collections with the highest grade leather is what we are known for. Although scratches may be inevitable with leather products, full grain leather is a much stronger and resilient material. With its thicker than average structure, full-grain leather is not put into the same sanding process as other leathers. This ensures its strong exterior is not weakened. 


As full grain leather ages, rather than wearing out, it burnishes and beautifies, developing a much sought-after patina and unique character that cannot be easily duplicated. The more you use it, the better it looks and feels.

In summary,


Full grain leather is made from the entire outer layer of the hide minus the hair. The grain refers to the closely-packed vertical and horizontal fibres which give the hide its strength, durability and water-resistance.


Top grain leather is full grain leather which has been buffed, sanded or otherwise treated to remove imperfections.


Corrected grain leather is usually more altered than top grain leather. It could just be sanded, but it is often buffed or embossed or resurfaced in some way.