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Best Leather for Wallets

July 2, 2020

Best Leather for Wallets

When it comes to choosing the right wallet, the material is a key factor worth considering. Leather is an ideal material for its beauty, durability, and overall longevity. There are several types of leather available so it may be overwhelming at first. We have compiled the best leather for wallets to help narrow down the choices.

Genuine Leather Wallets

The best leather for wallets should be genuine leather. Genuine leather can be either split or bonded material. Split leather is the lower level of the cow hide that was sheared off the top grain. Bonded is leather made of scraps of leather bonded together to make a whole piece. When choosing between the two options, split is the better option over bonded in terms of integrity and quality.

Top Grain Leather Wallets

When looking at the best leather for wallets, top grain is another popular choice. Whereas split leather is the lower level of the hide, top grain is the top of the hide or outer most layer. It is then processed or sanded down to hide any undesirable imperfections in the surface. A top grain leather is stronger than a split grain option by default because of where it comes from in the hide.

Full Grain Leather Wallets

A full grain leather wallet is often confused with top grain, but they are actually different. Full grain leather comes from the outer most surface of the hide. The difference between the two is that full grain leather is not sanded or processed so they have a deeper beauty thanks to the natural markings. Full grain is also a good choice for the best leather for wallets because of its durability and beauty.

Napa Leather Wallets

Another option is Napa leather which offers a soft, supple leather that is full grain. This leather is usually dyed and a bit more processed, but it offers a refined and sophisticated appeal common in higher grade leather wallets.

Exotic Skin Leather Wallets

While most people think of leather as cow hide, there are also leathers that are from other sources and called exotic skin leathers. This type of leather comes from sources such as alligator, ostrich, snake, and eel. This type of leather should not be confused with leathers of cow hide made with textures of ostrich or alligator texture in the surface.


Suede is a leather term applied to leather that has a brushed top surface. This brushed area creates a raised texture instead of a smooth surface in other leathers. Suede leather is extra soft and supple. It is important to note that suede can be from cow hide and simply brushed. It can also be suede from pig or lamb skin rather than cow hide.

Man-Made Leather Wallets

Another common type of "leather" falls under man-made. This isn't real, genuine leather and is usually comprised of synthetic components. If you see a wallet that says man-made leather, it is important to know that it is not real leather. The term is just something loosely applied to wallets of lesser quality to try to pass themselves off as leather to the unsuspecting shopper.

Additional Leather Shopping Tips

Knowing the top types of leathers available for wallets can make it easier to choose the right one. In addition, a few useful tips on how to tell the difference between real and faux leather can help steer you in the right direction.

Check for Surface Imperfections

A synthetic material trying to pass as real leather fails in one key area – surface imperfections. Real leather has pores, imperfections in the grain, pebbles, and creases or wrinkles whereas synthetic fabrics are uniform and smooth. You should keep in mind that although it is harder to mimic these textures in a synthetic leather, manufacturers are getting better at it so this alone isn't the only way you should verify if the leather is real.

Press the Leather

While the textures are capable of being somewhat mimicked, the way real leather reacts when pressed is much harder to duplicate. Real leather will compress and wrinkle when you press your finger in whereas fake leather will stay pretty much the same as it returns to the original state. Real leather will also react to the heat in your hand when you press it in a manner synthetic leather will not.

Smell the Leather

It is almost impossible to fake the smell of leather and this is a great tip-off when shopping. Real leather will have a natural smell since it comes from the skin of animals. Fake leather will have a chemical or even plastic smell to it. If you are unsure what real leather smells like, visit a retailer you know sells real leather and smell it. Once you know the smell of real leather, you will remember it later as it is one of the most memorable scents in the world.