Built for Life™
Leather is well known for its longevity. High quality leather can last generations if properly cared for, but not all leathers are created equal. This is a brief guide to the durability of various leathers.
Full grain leather is the most durable of all leathers. To be clear: full grain leather can come from many animals and in many finishes, each with its own characteristics, but as a general rule full grain leather will be more durable than similar leathers of comparable thickness. This is because full grain leather has not been buffed or sanded at all, only flawless skins can be used to make full grain leathers. Other skins with more imperfections must be buffed and polished before dying, and this process removes the top layer of the hide, where the leather fibers are tightest and therefore most durable.
Top grain leathers are also very strong, and have a smooth and uniform look due to the buffing process. Top grain leathers get their name from the fact that only the top 'split' of the leather is used. Split leather is just what it sounds like, leather that is cut right down the middle, creating two or more thinner pieces of leather from the thick, natural hide. This can be used to give a full or top grain leather more flexibility and softness, or to create more leather from one hide. Other genuine leathers (not full or top grain) use lower, looser leather fibers from splits. These are still considered genuine leather, but are simply not as durable.
The source of the leather also effects durability. Cowhide/calfskin, water buffalo hide, and goatskin/kidskin are all very durable. Sheepskin/lambskin is less durable, but it is the softest leather we offer. Ostrich skin is a very durable, very scarce, and somewhat soft leather, making it very expensive. We offer several styles in ostrich, but its price reflects the fact that it is an exotic leather.
One of the main factors in durability is thickness. A thick leather will almost always outlast a thin leather of the same type. The exception to this rule is young leathers (kidskin, calfskin, lambskin) which have the smallest hair cells and tightest grain of all. This makes them very durable in full grain, but young leathers are almost always thinner than leathers from full grown animals. There are a lot of other characteristics that make it hard to judge which skin would be most durable in this case.
Ultimately, there are so many variables that it is hard to say how durable a leather will be compared to any other unless you have all of the information about both. In any case, you can be sure that leather has earned its reputation for luxury and durability, and if you invest in a high quality leather product you will get both.