A close-up of natural Fjord full-grain leather.

From full-grain leather to suede: a guide to leather types

Leather is more than just a material; it is a symbol of durability, elegance and class. In the world of fashion and luxury goods, choosing the right leather plays a crucial role as it significantly influences the quality and longevity of the final products. Full-grain leather, suede and many other varieties each offer unique properties and benefits that make them suitable for different applications. This comprehensive guide to leather types aims to give you an in-depth understanding of the different types of leather and their respective benefits. Whether you are a fashion enthusiast who wants to know more about the material of your favorite accessories or a conscious consumer who cares about the quality and origin of the materials used, you will find valuable insights to help you make informed decisions. Learn more about the fascinating world of leather by exploring the diversity and uniqueness of each type of leather used in high-quality products.

A close-up of natural Fjord full-grain leather.

Table of contents:

  1. Basics of leather types
  2. Features of full-grain leather
  3. Other types of leather
  4. Sustainability in leather production
  5. Selection and care of leather
  6. Summary of the guide

The basics of leather types

Leather is available in many forms, each with its own characteristics and benefits. The main types include full-grain leather, split leather, nubuck leather and suede. Full-grain leather is considered the highest quality form of leather, as it consists of the top layer of the animal hide and retains the natural grain structure. This type of leather is particularly hard-wearing and develops an attractive patina over time.

Split leather on the other hand, is obtained from the lower layers of the skin and is less durable but more flexible. It is often used for less stressed items. Nubuck leather recognizable by its velvety surface, is produced by sanding the upper layer of skin, which gives it a soft texture. Suede leather is similar to nubuck leather, but it is sanded from the inside of the hide, which makes it even softer, but also more sensitive to soiling.

Knowledge of these differences is crucial to understanding the quality and suitability of the leather for different applications. A helpful visualization of the leather layers and their processing can be found on our Our leather - Overview of the types of leather in our products - BONAVENTURA Milano which gives you a deeper understanding of the materials used in our high-quality products.

Close-up of the processing of full-grain leather, a traditional craft.

Full-grain leather: characteristics and use

Full grain leather is at the pinnacle of leather quality and is known for its robustness and ability to develop a beautiful patina over the years. This leather is made from the top layer of the animal hide and retains the original grain of the hide, which not only gives it a natural texture but also makes it particularly resistant to wear and tear. The natural characteristics of the leather remain unchanged, making it ideal for high-quality leather products that are both durable and stylish.

At BONAVENTURA we specifically use Fjord and Noblessa leather for our products. Fjord leather, a shrunken, grained calfskin, is characterized by its exceptional durability and aesthetic texture, making it ideal for everyday use. Noblessa leather, on the other hand, known for its embossed cross grain, offers a unique visual depth and luxurious feel that sets it apart from other leathers.

Other types of leather and their uniqueness

In addition to the well-known types of leather such as full-grain leather or suede, there are also specialized variants that have unique properties and applications. Coated leather often known as artificial leather, is made by applying a synthetic layer to a textile backing, which makes it waterproof and very easy to care for. This type of leather is often used for furniture, bags and in the automotive industry, where durability and easy maintenance are required.

Aniline leather is one of the highest quality types of soft leather, which is treated by dyeing the hide with soluble dyes without covering the surface. This technique leaves the natural characteristics of the hide visible and gives the leather a particularly soft and natural look. Aniline leather is often used for luxury furniture and high-end clothing as it offers unique comfort and exquisite aesthetics.

A selection of different leather products for everyday office use.

Sustainability and ethical considerations in leather production

The sustainable sourcing of leather and the consideration of ethical aspects in production are crucial for protecting the environment and ensuring fair working conditions. In the leather industry, this means choosing suppliers who take a responsible approach to the origin of their materials, promote the use of environmentally friendly tanning processes and pay attention to animal welfare. These practices are not only beneficial for the environment, but also for consumers, who increasingly value ethical production and transparency in the manufacture of the products they buy.

Sustainably produced leather often comes from tanneries that work with less harmful chemicals and use water recycling systems to minimize the environmental footprint of their production. In addition, the use of leather scraps helps to reduce waste and promotes the efficient use of natural resources.

For a deeper insight into BONAVENTURA's sustainability practices and how we are committed to responsible leather production, please visit our Sustainability page . There you can find out more about our efforts to create high-quality products that are both luxurious and ethically sound.

Tips: Selection and care of leather products

Choosing the right type of leather for your needs can be a challenge, but with the right knowledge it is possible to make an informed decision. When choosing, you should consider how the product will be used: Do you need something that is particularly hard-wearing, such as for a handbag that will be used every day, or are you looking for a softer leather for comfortable clothing? Full-grain leather, for example, is ideal for items that need to develop longevity and a beautiful patina.

Caring for your leather products is just as important as choosing them. To maximize the life and beauty of leather products, they should be cleaned and cared for regularly. For cleaning, use a soft, damp cloth and special leather care products that nourish the leather and protect it from environmental influences. Avoid exposing leather to direct sunlight or extreme moisture, as this can dry out or deform the material.

An excellent example of a product made from high-quality full-grain leather that retains its beauty for a long time with the right care is the Premium leather handbag Mia Tote Bag Small . This handbag shows how elegant design and functionality come together to create a durable and stylish product that enhances everyday life.


This comprehensive guide has looked at the different types of leather and their specific characteristics, from the rugged beauty of full-grain leather to the soft elegance of suede and nubuck. We have also looked at some specific types of leather such as coated leather and aniline leather, as well as discussing the importance of sustainable sourcing and ethical production methods.

The right choice of leather can be decisive for satisfaction with a product for many years to come. High-quality leathers not only provide aesthetic enhancement, but also ensure increased product durability and functionality. By consciously choosing leather products that are both high quality and ethically responsible, we contribute to sustainability and support fair working conditions in the leather industry.

In conclusion, investing in quality leather products is not only a matter of personal taste, but also a contribution to promoting sustainable practices in the fashion and luxury goods industry. By making informed choices, we can maximize the longevity and value of our favorite pieces while raising our awareness of the importance of ethical production.