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what is distressed leather

What is Distressed Leather?

Looking to get the inside scoop on what all the fuss is about? Have you seen the term distressed leather bandied about and want to know what exactly people mean?

The world has never been a more confusing place, so join us today as we attempt to shed some light on the issue.

What is Distressed Leather?

The clue lies very much in the name itself. This is leather that has been distressed to give the impression that it is vintage leather, worn by years of use.
In a lot of ways, I am reminded of an analog with guitar manufacturers Gibson and Fender, both of which have a line of guitars that have been visibly distressed intentionally to give the impression that they have lived a long life on the road and such.

In the same way, distressed leather is made from the best materials and shown a good time so that you do not have to do all the work yourself. Distressed full-grain leather begins its life being tanned with oil and wax, the true grade of the material being massaged out by the tanning process, beckoning forth its unique character.

Instead of attempting to hide all of the imperfections, as in top-grain leather jackets, a distressed leather material like so will be designed to exhibit these imperfections and wear them with pride.

Animal hides are already home to a whole host of imperfections before they are tanned and treated. Just think about all the scars and scratches you accrue throughout your lifetime, and then amplify that by the number of physical encounters these animals are bound to engage in for lack of verbal language to reason with.

Scars, wrinkles, and scratches are all present on an animal's hide before the tanning process, and for distressed leather, these elements are accentuated.
Leather naturally ages in conjunction with the user, and so the idea of distressed leather is simply to accelerate the process and throw each user into the future wherein they will feel right at home. To call distressed leather expensive is to ignore the fact that such a luxury is priceless.

distressed leather

How Can You Tell?

If you have not already sussed, distressed leather is different from ordinary leather. Many of these differences will be obvious even to the most undiscerning eye.

Ordinary leather will tend to look glossy and clean, at least when it is new. Faux leather does not stand much of a chance of lasting long enough for the kind of imperfections that appear in aged leather to materialize.

Distressed leather, by contrast, will look aged and weathered, often in a superficial way. This is not to say that those using it are superficial nor that the products are superficial, but rather that the leather is aged in a way that speeds up the process.

Distressed leather is, thus, seen as possessing more character, bearing as battle scars all of the age it has accrued in the accelerated aging process. This characterful personality is often bold and, in this way, helps distressed leather stand out from the pack.

Many lack the patience and time to distress leather of their own accord - many will even lose interest in leather and such over the literal years it takes for leather to acquire its visible age. Thus, anyone who does wear distressed leather or sports a distressed leather product will stand out from the hordes of those who wear leather that looks new.

And, though there is a superficiality to the entire enterprise of distressed leather, the very best distressed leather will use real leather and other natural materials. Therefore, the process of distressing leather, no matter how superficial, still goes some way to evincing how durable the leather product is to begin with.
This is a trend that is not going anywhere anytime soon, so buckle up and prepare for a ride, cowboy!

How to Distress Leather

The differences between the ordinary process of aging leather naturally and the superficial process of distressing lie beside each other in stark contrast.
To properly distress leather, the base leather must be full-grain, lest it is destroyed in the process of distressing. Full-grain leather is less processed and, in turn, boasts higher durability, making this the more sustainable and sensical option.

To distress leather, it is worn out and damaged on purpose, wearing it and scraping it to unrefine and wrinkle the appearance, materializing character that it might otherwise have garnered through fair wear and tear.

To accelerate the process, some sources suggest soaking the leather in water and cutting it, and burning it. It would seem that the water renders the leather more susceptible to damage. Can leather get wet? Yes indeed, it can.

So, What is Vintage Leather?

By contrast, vintage leather is leather that has actually accrued all of this age naturally and without the superficial and accelerated leather aging process.
This is, thus, a more authentic leather, hence why it is often impossible to truly imitate its appearance, no matter how refined the distressing process is, having been worn out from anywhere between 20 and 100 years.

What about Antique Leather?

The more discerning of you will have noticed that there is surely leather over the age of 100. While vintage leather can be anywhere from 2 to 10 decades old, anything older than this is often referred to as antique leather.

Of course, these definitions are rather loose and, in fact, many of you will already be shrugging off such terminology. And you would be right! It does not matter what words you use as long as you can communicate what you mean with who you are attempting to converse.

Last Words

So, there you have it! Hopefully, whatever questions and queries you had today have been answered either above or below in the FAQs.
If not, do not hesitate to drop us a comment and we will reply as soon as we can!

FAQs Distressed Leather

What is distressed leather?

Distressed leather is a term that refers to any leather or leather product that has been superficially aged. Leather normally ages over time and with the user, accruing imperfections and developing what is called a natural patina.

Distressed leather attempts to bypass the sheer number of years that this kind of process can take, aging the leather by other means. This acts as an analog with guitar manufacturers Gibson and Fender, who age guitars in a similar way to negate the length of their aging process.

Is distressed leather less durable?

Though this is a healthy assumption to make, the opposite is in fact true. At least, this is the intention of the entire process. Distressed leather attempts to bypass the sheer number of years that this kind of process can take, aging the leather by other means. In this way, only the highest quality fine-grain leather can be used. The distressed appearance is meant to be representative of just how much of a beating it can take (and has taken).

Is distressed leather in style?

Leather has been a popular and enduring material since the very beginning of universal forms of fashion, gaining special prominence during the times of the new American frontier, where it was a durable and reliable material from which to construct clothing and tools. As such, it has even been called upon as a symbol of the loss of innocence, or at least of a transfer from young age into adulthood.

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