Know Your Skin


Shopping for a leather bag can be difficult. The market is saturated with cheap fake leathers, low-quality craftsmanship, and, even worse, expensive bags made with cheap leather.  To help separate the value for money from the overpriced, let start with some basics.



Vegetable leather

the most natural : tanned with natural tannins


Among the various tanning methods, the vegetable tanning is still nowadays the most traditional, the most recognisable, the only one able to give leather unique characteristics. The vegetable tanning process is based on the use of tannin, active ingredient responsible for the transformation of the animal hide into a compact and resistant material durable through the years. This natural substance can be found in many different trees and vegetables, in variable concentration according to the different species.

These natural tannin extracts make the vegetable-tanned leather unique and easily distinguishable: your handbag will reveal the signs of time changing color and getting a shiny patina. The colours of tannins give the leather an unmistakable warm and brilliant shade that becomes more intense with the passing of time and the daily use.

At the same time vegetable leather is from a certain point of view “naked”, so all small defects and imperfections that are naturally present on the hide will be visible on the surface, and vegetable-tanned leather bags discolor and shrivel when drenched in water. If you want to know more about vegetable leather you can find interesting info on the website of the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium was founded in 1994 by a small group of Tuscan tanners)



Top-grain leather

corrected to hide away scars or defects


Is a skin where the natural grain has been “corrected’ by sanding, buffing, or stamping and then dyeing to hide away scars or defects. A bag made out of top grain leather can legally be sold as a leather bag, but unfortunately corrected leather is more similar to fake leather then to real one. 

The purpose of this processing is to create a uniform look that removes insect bites, barbed-wire scratches and other environmental markings that might appear on the hide. As the buffing remove the “top” of the leather, will be necessary to apply a finishing coating, which produces a colder, plastic feel, with less breathability. You would expect a luxury bag to only use full grain leather (as we do with all Lido Venezia accessories) , but unfortunately this is not always the case: on the market there are plenty of very expensive products using top grain leather as it is much cheaper.

It is not obvious to immediately recognize a top grain leather and (hard to believe), many inexperienced customers appreciate top grain leather as the plastic finishing applied on top gives greater stain resistance than full-grain leather.

This is why a tip to spot top grain leather is to put some water on it: if the water slides without leaving any mark most likely it is not as natural as you think. But do not forget that top grain leathers, as soon as the top finishing brakes (and it will) the bag start quickly to wear very badly.

This is why we don’t use a top grain leathers, and we don’t think any luxury handbag should; simply because a luxury bag should last for long and age beautifully , and top grain leather simply doesn’t.



Full-grain leather

to showcase the skin’s natural beauty


A premium-grade hide that has not been buffed, to showcase the skin’s natural “grain” or texture.Full Grain leathers should display the natural markings and grain characteristics from the animal of which it was taken.

Full Grain leathers generally come from a better quality hide or skin, so no sanding processes are required and it is not necessary to add a lot of products on top to hide defects (this is why are only normally treated by transparent aniline dyes). Thank to this very light finishing Full Grain leathers offer a natural look (you can still see the original grain and shades behind the finishing) and the feel is much nicer.


Want to know more on leather, made in Italy artisan products and handmade handbags? Give a look to Lido's insider guides