Understanding why leather is priced a certain way, and whether it’s fair, can be confusing. Due to differences in sourcing, production, distribution, and other factors, you will find that high-quality leather isn’t always the most expensive option. Here’s a breakdown of the factors driving the price of your leather, which you can use to ensure you’re getting the best price on your next purchase – without compromising on quality.
#1 Type Of Hide
Leather generally comes from either bullhide or cowhide. Bullhide is thicker and more durable than cowhide because of its relative size and strength of fibers, and it also yields larger quantities.
Leather quality also depends on the health of the animal, and health is influenced most dramatically by where and how that animal was raised. The highest-quality leather in the world today comes from European countries, such as Germany. In these more temperate climates, animal skins have fewer surface flaws such as bite marks, which results in fewer yields per hide. And because livestock from Europe are allowed to grow at a natural rate with no artificial hormones, they produce tighter, stronger hides.
#3 Quality of Rawhide
Hides are inspected and separated into grades based on number of markings or imperfections. The higher-grade hides are made into full grain leather, as this form makes use of the whole hide. By contrast, top grain leather is a product of the hide’s outer layer only, which then needs to be refined by sanding and reinforced with heavy applications of finish. Hides that are too flawed to be used to make full grain leather are usually reserved for lower-quality forms such as top grain, corrected grain, and split.
Faux leather is usually the most cost-effective while also widely considered to be the more ethical option. Faux leather is certainly more versatile in terms of coloration and application than real leather. It also comes in many forms, including vegan leather and leatherette. Artificial leather is completely man-made, usually machine-manufactured of a breathable polyurethane on a cotton, rayon, or polyester base layer.
#4 Location of the Tannery
The ethical practices of the tannery can influence price significantly, and for good reason. Worker equity and environmental awareness differ from country to country. Among major leather tanning countries, Italy is the global leader for maintaining both high quality standards and environmentally responsible practices.
#5 Method of Production
Another important price factor involves length of the leather production process, including the number of weeks it took to make the dye and the number of steps required to apply any finish and achieve the end product. For example, rose-tanned leather is considered the most valuable on earth, mainly due to the high cost of rose otto used as a variant of vegetable tanning and the labor-intensive process required. By contrast, less expensive leathers such as chrome-tanned leather involve the most expedient tanning processes and take place in a lab.
#6 Additional Supplier Costs
From staff salaries to the upkeep of fancy show rooms, a vendor’s size will determine overhead costs factored into their product pricing. Look for individual or family-owned leather supplier companies for more competitive pricing.
Blackstock Leather offers superior quality full grain and synthetic leather options in the interior design industry. Since its beginnings as a family-owned business, the company has been dedicated to uncompromising quality and customer service while maintaining reasonable prices. Contact us to get started on a custom quote today.