If you’ve been shopping recently and comparing prices between leather goods and those made from other fabrics, you may have noticed a major price difference. Similarly, the cost of different types of leather can also vary. So, why is leather expensive sometimes and more affordable other times? There are actually a wide range of factors that can impact the price of leather. Let’s take a deeper look and explore the cost of leather in the next few sections.
Why is leather expensive?
The cost of leather is determined by a number of factors. These include the manufacturing process, the type of leather, tanning, coloring and dyeing, the company size, and country of origin for the leather.
First, it is important to remember that leather is made from animal skins. This means that there is a limited quantity and that there is only so much leather that can be made. Additionally, the animals need to mature before their skin will be ready for use for making leather. For example, in the case of cow leather, the animals have to mature for at least one year. During this year (or more), the cow will also require food, which also costs money.
The process of making leather is also quite complex. It requires experienced individuals, specialized equipment, and various chemicals to ensure that the leather is cured and treated properly. All of these costs add up and will impact the price you pay when purchasing leather.
When there is high demand for leather goods, the prices may be even higher. Remember, because leather is made from animal skins and requires time and skilled technicians, you cannot simply create leather in unlimited quantities.
Type of Leather
The type of leather will also greatly impact the final cost of leather goods. There are different types of leather and each is made using different techniques and methods. These types include full grain leather, top grain leather and bonded leather.
Full grain leather, the highest quality leather, will be more expensive. Full grain leather is made using the top layer of the animal hide. Because of this, all of the natural grain of the animal skin is included.
When making top grain leather, the outermost layer of the animal hide is removed. This makes the leather a bit thinner and easier to work with, which is why top grain leather is typically a bit less expensive than full grain leather. However, top grain is still considered a high grade of leather, just one step down from full grain. You can still find plenty of designer labels that use top grain leather when making leather items like bags, wallets, or leather portfolios.
Bonded leather is even less expensive. Bonded leather is made using leather scraps and a polyurethane binder. Bonded leather typically only consists of between 10 and 20% real leather, which is why it is often so much cheaper than grain leather.
Faux, or vegan leather, is not real leather. It is made using synthetic materials, but doesn’t offer the same durability, look, or feel that you’ll find with genuine leather. Bonded leather and faux leather are cheaper alternatives to grain leather.
Another thing to consider when you’re thinking about the question, “why is leather so expensive,” is the type of animal skin that was used to make the leather. The prices between different types of leather, such as cow leather, crocodile leather, and goat leather, will all vary. Because calf leather is popular and has a higher demand, it is often cheaper than some other types of leather, such as goat leather.
However, more exotic leather types, such as alligator leather or ostrich skin leather, may be even more expensive.
Sometimes the difference between expensive leather and cheaper options has to do with the tanning methods used. The vegetable tanning process, which makes use of tree bark and other natural tanning methods, is a more expensive process. This means that some goods like leather duffle bags that are tanned using this process will cost more for the consumers.
Other tanning methods can be less expensive. For example, chemicals are used during the chrome tanning method. These chemicals speed up the tanning process, making the leather less expensive.
Colors and Dyes
The dyeing process also plays a role in determining the final cost of leather. Semi dyed leathers will be less expensive than fully dyed leather. This is because the process of making fully dyed leather is a lot more involved; not only does it take more time, but only higher quality animal hides will work.
Some leather colors can also cost more than others. Dyeing a huge batch of leather the same color is less expensive and time-consuming overall than dyeing a few pieces with a less popular color.
Moreover, some colors are just more difficult to produce. For example, white leather is the most challenging to make. This is why that white leather jacket you’ve been eyeing may cost more than a brown or black leather jacket.
Sometimes the company size can play into the cost of leather. While larger companies are able to produce leather items in bulk because of their larger budgets, they often have higher overhead and operational costs than smaller companies. If the company you choose to purchase leather from also manufacturers their own items, it may save you a bit on the cost. You can avoid markups from dealing with a middleman this way.
Country of Origin
As you’re thinking, “why is leather so expensive,” it can also relate to the leather’s country of origin. You may have noticed that items labeled “Italian leather” seem to be more expensive than leather that is manufactured in other countries. There is a reason for this: the Italian leather industry is known for their attention to detail and only using the highest quality animal hides when manufacturing their leather.
This, however, doesn’t mean that Italian leather is the only leather worth the investment. You can find high quality leather goods, such as luxury handbags, jackets or leather messenger bags, from many other brands across the globe.
How expensive is leather?
Now that you’ve read through all the information shared above, it should be clear that there is no set answer for this question. You can find leather goods like handbags, leather photo albums or leather pencil cases in a variety of price ranges depending on the type of leather used, the manufacturing process, and other factors. There are certainly affordable prices out there or even some cheaper alternatives to consider, depending on your budget.
Leather is Worth the Investment
Despite the fact that it can come with a higher price tag—especially if you choose designer brands or top quality full grain leather—many people feel that leather is a worthy investment. Beyond its gorgeous appearance, leather is also highly durable and long-lasting. So, while you may be paying more upfront now to buy that leather jacket or leather sofa, the chances are that it will outlast a similar item made from cloth fabrics. This means that you could save in the long-run by not needing to replace the quality leather item as soon as you would have to replace something made from a lower quality alternative.
Is real leather expensive?
Real leather can be expensive, especially if it is a high-quality full grain leather item. Leather goods from luxury brands can also be expensive, particularly if exotic animal hides, such as alligator skin, were used.
What type of leather is expensive?
Full grain leather is often the most expensive type of leather. This type of genuine leather is seen as the best quality leather. It is made using the entire animal hide, which can be more challenging to work with. Top grain leather is just a step-down from full grain leather, but can still be quite expensive, especially when sold by designer labels. Exotic leathers will also be quite expensive compared to cheaper or thinner options, like goat leather.