Yep, it’s real.
It’s pulled right off the hide of an animal just like the other good leathers. The problem with Genuine Leather is two-fold in my not-so-humble opinion
- It implies other leather isn’t genuine
- It is typically the lower grade leather although is usually portrayed as “100% Genuine”, implying it’s the best you can get
So don’t let the term “Genuine” fool you here. It is leather and it is genuine, but so are many other types of leather that aren’t marked as “Genuine”.
What is Genuine Leather then?
You have to picture a cross section of animal hide. Not to get too graphic, but skin is made up of many different layers. Picture a pizza, turned upside down. The crust of the pizza is the outer most layer, then comes that part of the crust that isn’t quite cooked all the way that kind of blends into the sauce. Then there’s the cheese and finally the topping. The strongest part of that pizza is the crust. It’s the part that had to stand up against the heat of the oven without falling apart. This is analogous to the top layer of your skin…it has to stand up to the rigors of every day life. Same for a cow, or a deer or a lamb – their skin has to protect them so the outer most layer of the skin is the toughest. As you look deeper at the layers of the skin, they get progressively softer and less resilient the deeper you go.
The best leathers, the most resilient leathers…the toughest leathers…are taken from the top most layers of the skin. The pizza crust, if you will. That is not where Genuine Leather is harvested from.
If you imagine you can separate each of those layers of the pizza, the crust would be your Top Grain leather. The crust and the cheese would be your Full Grain leather. You’ll also see “Top Full Grain” leather which, as you can imagine, is the crust and the cheese and a layer or two below that.
Genuine Leather, is the vegetable layer. Or pepperoni, depending on your tastes. To draw this analogy out a bit more, if you add the toppings to your pizza…parmesian cheese, those little red hot flakes, garlic powder, etc…that’s where your suede comes from. So the Genuine Leather is harvested quite far down from the top layers of the leather.