Leather Care Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, December 2020, Care of Leather Goods

Steven Ferry Care of Leather Goods, Part 2

by Steven Ferry


“Full grain” is the full thickness of the animal hide and so is the most durable and able to develop patina as it ages, rather than wearing out over time. It is also the most breathable when in contact with the human body. Needless to say, it is the most expensive, but not if you average the price of the multiple lesser-quality belts one has to buy that will last the lifetime of a full-grain belt. Might be better to enjoy the quality all the time, no?

The next level down is “top grain,” which is thinner, less breathable, and will not develop a patina because it has a coat applied (which on the plus side means it will not stain) and so does not improve with age, but will last a long time as long as its finish coat is not damaged.

The third level is “genuine leather or corrected leather”—the layer under the top, which has grain implanted onto the surface which is then stained.

The fourth level is to full-grain leather as particle board is to lumber or machine-rolled, short-fill cigars are to long-fill, hand-rolled cigars—”Bonded leather” is made of leather scraps that are shredded and then bonded onto a fiber sheet which is then resurfaced to emulate real leather; it is weak and will fall apart sooner rather than later.

Then there is truly fake leather made of PVC. If the item smells of plastic, not leather, if it has a uniform and smooth surface, it is fake. Fake leather cannot be cleaned or conditioned and suffers from rapid deterioration about which one can do nothing.

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.