Nappa leather, or Napa leather, is a variety of high-quality leather often used for luxury goods, but what exactly sets Nappa leather apart from other leathers, and what are some of the very best Nappa leather goods available on the market in 2023?
What is Nappa Leather?
Nappa leather is characteristically incredibly soft, smooth and strong. The term itself can describe a variety of thicknesses and cuts but it is typically made from lamb, kid, or sheep skin using the best quality parts of the hide. Its lack of a concrete definition means that lots of different products are described as ‘Napa leather’ including leather bags, furniture and even clothing.
The term Nappa, generally, is descriptive of the tanning process and can indicate some of the properties of a luxury leather product. Where products aren’t described as ‘Nappa’, it’s recommended to look for full-grain or top-grain leathers for high-quality goods.
The History of Nappa Leather
Napa or Nappa leather takes its name from Napa, California. The process of making Nappa leather was created by Emanuel Manasse in around 1875. Manasse was a German tanner who, at the time, was working for The Sawyer Tanning Company in Napa Valley.
It was discovered that treating hides with chromium or aluminum sulfate could make leathers soft without sacrificing their strength. Upon the discovery of this process, the term Napa leather was coined, and with it, Manasse found great riches. He was later named a partner at The Sawyer Tanning Company due to his great successes.
Pros of Nappa Leather
Nappa leather is incredibly durable and soft. This makes it ideal for heavy-wear items that would still benefit from a high-quality finish. Popular uses include leather bags as well as car seats and automotive interiors. These daily-use items need to be able to look stylish whilst also handling regular wear and tear. Nappa leather is the perfect combination of both of these things.
Nappa leather is incredibly durable. It is not only strong but also fairly water-resistant compared to other luxury materials so this makes it perfect for daily use.
One of the key advantages of Napa leather is that it is hypoallergenic. This makes it a great option for people with respiratory issues.
Cons of Nappa Leather
Nappa leather is a high-quality product so sometimes it can be expensive. Due to the broad description of napa leather, it can be hard to pinpoint an exact price point for a product so we must look at how they compare to other, similar products.
Typically, these higher-quality leather items (particularly those made from full-grain leather) last for a very long time. This makes them a worthwhile investment for many who can see that the quality vs. cost over time will balance out. Long-lasting luxury items are considered to be a good investment because a good leather product can last for decades when well cared for. You can expect them to outlast several faux leather bags purchased, often for more money, during the same period.
How to Clean Nappa Leather
Nappa leather is easy to wipe down and clean. Its smooth surface makes it less prone to collecting significant amounts of dust. Whilst you should avoid soaking leather products in general, Nappa leather is fairly water resistant and this makes it one of the easiest leathers to clean.
For any surface-level dirt, you should be able to give your Nappa leather products a quick wipe with a damp, soft cloth. This will remove most of the dust and keep products looking new.
You can also use a leather conditioner to hydrate leather products and keep them from cracking. You should try a small amount of leather conditioner on a hidden area to test it before applying it all over with a soft cloth in a small circular motion.
Why Is High-Quality Leather Recommended for Bags?
For items that get a lot of use, like leather travel bags or backpacks, we always advise using full-grain or top-grain leather. Although we can see the appeal of low-quality, imitation, or inexpensive leather, the quality and durability of real leather goods really speaks for itself.
Whether you are buying a Nappa leather bag as a gift to a loved one or a gift to yourself, it’s important that your investment will be long-lasting. With these thicker, high-quality leathers, you will see a much better return on your investment in terms of longevity and quality.
Our Favorite Nappa Leather Bags for 2023
We have spent time creating some really stunning high-quality leather bags and leather briefcases for the 2023 season. Here are just a few of our favorites.
1. The Brief
This Briefcase is designed to last a lifetime. Made from top-quality cowhide leather, this bag is stylish and practical. It will safely hold a laptop and any other essentials for your daily commute. The strap makes it an incredibly practical briefcase option for those that are always on the move and the lock ensures security for your essentials. The Brief really is the perfect choice for a busy 9 to 5 where you need to show you mean business.
2. The European
The European is a great example of a gorgeous leather bag that just gets better with age. This stylish yet roomy work bag has plenty of space for everything you need and its real leather build and high-quality, strong fastenings will protect your things as you travel from A to B. The European is just as lightweight as it is heavy-wearing and it looks great with just about any outfit.
3. The Briefcase
What does a busy working man need to both look the part and make sure they’re always prepared for what the working day might throw at them? The Briefcase, of course. This classically stylish briefcase bag is the perfect daily. It provides plenty of space without being heavy and it looks amazing.
4. The Pack
Nothing says style and sophistication quite like an expertly crafted bag. This classic design is perfect if you’re looking for a long-lasting option for both work and daily use. It’s spacious, strong, and it’s built to last.
5. The Jones
The Jones is a gorgeous example of great craftsmanship and luxury. The many pockets and pouches make it endlessly practical and the handy travel strap makes it ideal for a busy man who is often on the go. The Jones is equally as stylish as it is high-quality and it’s the perfect partner for an adventurous modern man.
You can check out our complete collection of real leather backpacks here, or explore more of our best-selling leather bags.