What's the difference and does it really matter?
Of course it does and we appreciate you asking. And it matters even more when you're talking about a weekender bag or dopp kit that you expect will last a lifetime, if not longer.
At Blue Claw Co, we use domestic full grain leather. Simply put, it is hands down the best leather money can buy. And as we prefer, it provides a patina that only gets better with age.
So here's the rundown:
Top grain leather, to some surprise, is not the top-of-the-line and it isn't the most expensive. And it doesn't refer to the top section of the hide. Nor does it refer to the outermost layer. In fact, with top grain leather, the outermost layer is actually sanded off. This removes any blemishes and imperfections, but it also removes the strongest and most durable fibers in the leather. Once sanded, an imitation grain is applied. The result is a leather that is less expensive, less durable, but that has a more consistent finish. Top grain leather will not develop a natural patina like a full grain leather will.
Full grain leather includes the entire top layer of the hide. This includes any scratches, blemishes, and sometimes even the branding marks. And it also includes that burnt looking shine that only gets better looking with time. But what we like best is that every piece has a story to tell. Every piece develops it's own unique patina that's nearly impossible to replicate. And because the strongest fibers are left in tact, full grain leather is extremely durable! Strong enough to last a lifetime, and it only gets better with age... that's why we use full grain!