What is it, the skin of the Bellroy brand?

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The skin cannot be the same. This we can say with certainty. But a lot of the other things you read or hear about skin are much less reliable. Bellroy sticking to the slogan «…to create products that can be enjoyed for a long time», invests a lot of money and spends a lot of time looking for quality leathers that can be found in the best tanneries according to the Leather Working Group.

Brand manufacturers are always trying to get more information about the skin. And we want to share this performance with you. We want to tell you about the leather that Bellroy uses in the production of their products and break the stereotypes about this material.

Wait. Is the leather real or not?

To non-specialists in the leather industry, the terms below will seem almost interchangeable. In fact, there is a big difference between them.

Full-grain leather (Skin with «natural face»)

The upper part of the skin — leather with a natural surface — is strong and durable, and its structure remains pristine for a long time. Since this part of the natural material can retain its original appearance after years of use, it must immediately be of high quality and free from defects. All of these factors mean that this layer of hide is generally expensive.

Top-grain leather (Leather with polished surface)

This is actually skin with a «natural face», polished and freed from minor defects. Despite the mechanical impact, it still retains the high quality and durability that a natural material has.

The choice between buffed and natural leather depends on the purpose of use. The Australian company mainly uses untreated natural material, but resorts to the use of buffed leather when necessary (depending on how much flexibility and soft tactile sensations are needed).

Genuine leather (Leather)

Technically real leather is leather that has an extra layer of processing, but is not so heavy that the material can be categorized as «coated leather» or «dyed leather«. However, the term seems to be exploited by marketers who prefer to say «genuine, genuine leather«, but not «cheap«. Why cheap? Because «Genuine Leather» can be a split (that is, a material after removing the front layer) that does not retain a rigid structure.

Thus, although «Genuine Leather» is indeed a genuine material, its quality is usually worse than that of leather with a natural face or with a sanded surface. This option is well suited as an element of decor accessories, but not as a structure-forming base.

You may notice that Bellroy product descriptions often use the phrase «Genuine Leather«. Although we wrote above about the virtuoso use of it by many marketers as evidence of the high quality of their products, you can be sure that the leather used in the production of Bellroy accessories retains its natural face or undergoes minimal processing.

Tanning. Vegetable or chromic?

The ubiquitous judgment is the following and simple formula: vegetable tanning is good, chrome plating is bad. But, like most other judgments, it requires a comprehensive explanation.

vegetable-tanned (vegetable tanned)

Vegetable tanning means that the leather is treated with vegetable-based tannins to change its texture. The result is leather that looks natural, develops its own unique look over time, and develops an elegant, rich patina. The material may also be dense in structure.

At the same time, the vegetable method requires much more water and electricity compared to other types of tanning. Because of this, by the way, the production at some tanneries using this type of tanning does not meet the eco-standards of the industry and, therefore, such factories cannot achieve high ratings.

Chrome tanned (chrome tanning)

Let’s get back to chrome. This is a tanning process that uses chromium oxide, which makes the leather softer and more resistant to wear. This method also preserves the original appearance of the accessory for a long time.

The main disadvantage of chromium plating lies in the manufacturing process — this type of tanning produces toxic chromium dioxide, which pollutes wastewater and has a detrimental effect on the health of tannery workers. However, under the right conditions, chrome plating becomes as harmless a type of tanning as vegetable tanning. The end result is more durable leather.

In the past, Bellroy has always characterized its leathers as exclusively vegetable-tanned, since most of the tannins in production were vegetable in nature. However, in order to make the leather softer and more wearable, the brand needed to apply a chrome plating component. Yes, the company still uses more vegetable tannins in its production, but it is not entirely correct to say that the leather is 100% vegetable tanned.

That is why the material is characterized as «ecologicaly clean» (in original — environmentally-certified). If you come across a vegetable-tanned wallet that is soft to the touch, then, in all likelihood, a chrome component was involved in the production process.

Because Bellroy works with highly rated tanneries, the brand is confident that the combination of tanning processes they use strikes the right balance between product quality and environmental concerns.

We hope that this article will help you make a rational choice when buying leather products.


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