Knowing the thickness is critical thing to making top quality leather products
Leather it a bit more than just picking out a bag or a jacket which looks good. Consumers should be concerned with the durability, flexibility, and the actual orientation of the leather in order to determine for him or herself if the product is worth the investment. Typically, a person can gauge the quality of leather by the associated price of the product. The saying “you get what you pay for” does hold some merit. Yet, this is not necessarily the case. Higher ended products may have cheaper material but higher prices due to the name brand associated with that product or the accessories adorning the leather. The only real way in which a person can make a general calculation to the quality of the leather is to measure (after of course checking the basic elements of quality such as stitching) the thickness of the leather. Here is how you do so.
The basic feel test
Looks can be somewhat deceiving in leather products. While the first appearance of a product may appear thick, upon basic observation you may note that the product is layered with thin leather. While the layers do lend to a more durable product (given that the treads and the binding are properly constructed), it is always better to have a thicker leather for certain products then to try to make a weak product stronger by piling more layers on top of it. When measuring the thickness of leather use two fingers to “rub” the seams and check for layering. Additionally, looking for stitching of layers and visible variations in thickness should give an indication of the quality, flexibility, and durability of the product.
Understand the basic types of leather and why you should or should not buy it
There are a great many differences in leather from nubuck to bonded leather. Add to this the manner in which the leather has been dyed, whether that is from Aniline or Semi Aniline leather or natural tanning, there are a lot of variables to take into consideration. Just because a leather is labeled as being delicate or luxurious should not automatically render the thickness as being thin. Delicate only means that the owner will need to take careful measures to keep the integrity of the design and the durability of the product in order. A great parallel to this would be in stating that a woman is delicate and needs to have careful attention and care. Does this mean she does not have thick skin? Not necessarily. In the same way which a person should not jump to conclusions in this regard, they should not jump to conclusions based upon the “quality rating” of the material. Base your conclusions on type, thickness, stitching, dye, and the flexibility of the leather.
What does the tag tell you?
The first step in measuring leather it to take a good look at the tag of the product. While the mega store leather or fake leather is not apt to have detailed information about the thickness of the splitting of the leather, some of the more luxurious leathers may provide the ounce information or the distributor should be able to tell you the ounce range. For every ounce which a product gains 1/64th of an inch is added or 0.4mm thickness. So if you are comparing two nubuck jackets and one distributor claims that the product is made from 7oz leather and another measures at 9oz leather is quite a difference. The 7oz leather would be 2.8mm while a 9oz. would be 3.6mm.
An additional trick to determining the quality of leather is to look to see if a tag is a mixture of leather and synthetics. In many cases if a product is a mixture the leather will be thinly split (the more you can get out of a hide for cheap the higher the potential profit). While this works for the corporations looking to make a buck, it does little for the overall quality of wallet, handbag, jacket, etc.
Are there any standards to thickness?
Those which sew leather are familiar with the iron (a measuring tool typically reserved for shoe leather artisans). But consumers typically do not have this device sitting around in their wallets or purses. As such, understanding that certain products have a standardized thickness is important.
Shoes – Due to the need for a durable construction, shoes generally have a 12oz thickness. Where the toe and the upper portion of the shoe may be thinner, the main bulk of the shoe should be thick. Additionally, specialty luxury shoes may have thinner ounces than others while “working” boots will end to have a thicker ounce measurement.
Belts – Again, as the belt is a highly bent leather and requires a high level of durability, the thickness reflects such. Belts are usually 8 ounces.
Wallets and Bags – Leather handbags and thin wallets have perhaps the thinnest measurement out of common products. The luxurious leather bags and the wallets are about 2 to 5 ounces. The reason, of course, for this is to prevent the person who is carrying the bag or the wallet from having a boxy, cardboard looking product. Could you imagine having a leather handbag of ¼” thickness weighed down with contents upon your shoulder? First it would be impossible to carry for a long period. Secondly, there would be no bend to the leather resulting in damage to the inner lining.
The best way to ensure quality leather measurements
The best way in which you can ensure that your product is created with quality in mind is to have a professional leather artisan make your product. The professional artisan understands the various thicknesses of leather and should be able to relate the importance of a certain ounce selection over another available selection. Furthermore, when a person opts for a machine split leather product, that person may or may not get the thickness portrayed. While the calibration of the machine should be accurate, 1/64” of an inch is rather small and fluctuations in a machines operation are very likely to shift from time to time.