Fashion and style are ever-changing. With each decade comes the popularization or resurgence of particular hairstyles and clothing styles. Additionally, new fashion lines are released yearly, and to make things even more turbulent, each season brings its own styles. If you’re into fashion, it might be difficult (and expensive) to keep up with how quickly styles go from “in” to “out.”
However, there are certain staples of fashion that have always been in style–even as early as the mid-19th century! More specifically, fine leather goods, no matter what form they come in, have been fashionable for generations and remain so today. Walk around the business district of any major town or city and you’re bound to see some leather briefcases, leather belts, wallets, satchels, and more. But what makes fine leather goods so appealing and timeless?
The Appeal of Leather
Quality is the name of the game when it comes to the appeal of fine leather goods. Unlike fabrics made of cotton and wool, or synthetic materials like plastic, leather has a distinct durability and flexibility that gives it longevity and makes it useful for many things. This enduring quality of leather is tied to its aesthetic appeal. Leather apparel and accessories have become status symbols in some cultures, such as American culture. Donning leather means you take your appearance seriously and can afford luxury items.
Types of Leather
Not all leather is created equal. In fact, there are more than a handful of ways leather can be made through different tanning processes, such as chrome tanning, synthetic tanning, and vegetable tanning. But regardless of the tanning process there are four general types of leather that go on the market: Full-grain, top-grain, corrected-grain, and split.
The names speak for themselves once the term “grain” is understood in the context of leather forming. The grain essentially refers to the skin or surface of the leather. With full-grain leather, the grain remains untouched, meaning no sanding or buffing is done to alter the surface or remove imperfections. This is regarded as the highest quality leather. Top-grain, the second highest in quality and the most common on the market, is more buffed and sanded than full-grain, smoothing out any imperfections and resulting in a slightly thinner product. Corrected-grain leather, as it sounds, is modified by applying an artificial grain to the surface, and split refers to the splitting of the rawhide from the hide. Suede is made from split leather.
Will Leather Go Out of Style?
While it can be hard to predict exactly what will be “in” and what will go “out” and when, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that the leather industry will do just fine regardless of fashion evolution. Leather seems to find a place for itself regardless of the larger trends in play. In 2007 over 23 billion square feet of leather were produced. Two years after that, the United States’ shipments of leather belts were valued at $92 million. And this year, 2016, Coach’s spring line featured several leather products modeled by Chloe Moretz, including jackets and purses.
So leather is here to stay. The appeal of this material, no matter the type or grain, is unmistakable and timeless. If you’re concerned about what to include in your wardrobe in 2017, you can be sure that something leather will certainly be in, and you’ll be able wear it for years to come.
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