There are many different leather treatments and finishes used in crafting luxury products, but perhaps one of the more commonly considered varieties is patent leather. The real question is, what is patent leather, and is it a high enough quality material for luxury goods like bags and shoes?
What Is Patent Leather?
Patent leather is perhaps one of the most recognisable leathers because of its glossy finish. It is most commonly used for items like shoes and leather bags and was originally a luxury seen mostly in high-end fashion houses.
In more recent times, patent leather has become more affordable, with faux patent leathers also starting to appear in stores. You will likely have seen this high-gloss, shiny material sitting at many different price points and being used by many different brands.
Is Patent Leather A Real Leather?
Patent leather is technically real leather, but often falls short in quality in comparison to full grain and top grain leathers.
Patent leather, with its glossy and sleek appearance, certainly has its own unique appeal. Its high-shine finish is all about sophistication and, often, formality. For those seeking an accessory that can make a bold statement, patent leather can be an excellent choice.
Its glossy coating can make it easy to clean and maintain, as its shiny surface repels water and resists staining, making it suitable for a variety of weather conditions. One thing to be aware of with patent leather is cracking. Over time, the coating used to create the glossy effect will wear away, and this can age patent leather products both visually and in terms of durability.
In general, patent leather is not as durable as full-grain or top-grain leather even when well maintained. As well as cracking, it can suffer wear caused by its lack of breathability. This can make it less comfortable than other types of leather, especially when used in footwear, as it doesn't conform to the foot as well and is less capable of adapting to conditions.
How Is Patent Leather Made?
The highly polished finish of patent leather is achieved with a very specific varnishing process.
The real leather is coated with a layer of lacquer, plastic, or a similar glossy material to give the material its shine. This coating is usually transparent or translucent, allowing the natural texture and color of the leather to show through. There are cases where this will be colored to either enhance the existing color of the material or create a more unique finish.
After the initial coating, the leather is carefully buffed and polished. This process creates an even more smooth and shiny surface. The degree of shine can vary, with some patent leathers having a high gloss finish and others having a more moderate shine.
Depending on the desired level of gloss, the coating, buffing, and polishing process may be repeated multiple times. This ensures a consistent and durable shine on the product.
Is Patent Leather Expensive?
The actual cost of patent leather can vary depending on brand, quality, and color. In more recent years, manufacturing advances have made it easier to create cheap patent leather products.
This typically starts with a lower-grade leather. The use of lower-quality leather and the coating process can contribute to lower production costs, making patent leather products more accessible to a broader range of shoppers. On the other hand, high-end or designer brands that use patent leather may still command premium prices, particularly for luxury goods.
Better Alternatives To Patent Leather
There are many patent leather alternatives for high-quality leather goods. Perhaps the most popular are top grain and full grain leathers.
These high-quality alternatives are more natural in appearance and have many of the visible qualities that make leather so appealing for luxury products.
Top grain and full grain leathers are more durable than patent leathers and, when well cared for, are less likely to crack and wear. In fact, many leather bags made from top-grain leather will last for many years before ever showing signs of frequent use.
Our Favorite High-Quality Leather Bags
When it comes to leather goods, we certainly prefer those of higher quality alternatives. Not only will they last longer than patent leather, but they have a more classic appeal in terms of texture and design that patent leather goods simply can’t match.
Here are just a few of our favorite luxury leather bags.
The Prime is the embodiment of craftsmanship, meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans. Fashioned from the finest full-grain leather, this messenger bag exudes both elegance and rugged durability. The brass buckles, heavy-duty lining, robust stitching, and high-quality zippers ensure longevity, making it the ultimate upgrade for your daily carry.
This leather backpack is a real head-turner. It just screams class. It's made from only the finest waxed top-grain cowhide leather for that added protection.
This backpack closes with a stylish drawstring and has more room than you might believe. You can easily fit a laptop in The Wax, protecting it from the hustle and bustle of daily adventures, and there'll still be spare room for clothes and books too, should you need them. Close the main compartment with the convenient magnetic clips, then stick even more gear in the outside pockets for easy access.
The East Side is the ideal backpack for women with a timeless and sophisticated style. This leather laptop backpack is poised to be your trusted everyday companion.
This backpack features intelligently designed pockets to keep your essentials organized. It accommodates your laptop, business cards, chargers, keys, and all of your other daily necessities.
Crafted with space-saving in mind, this travel-ready laptop backpack is for those who demand functionality while maintaining a minimalist aesthetic.
Featuring an ultra-slim design and a programmable 3-digit combination lock, The Reagan leather attache case offers the perfect blend of style and security.
The comfortable top carry handle, protective feet to keep it standing upright, and a specially designed tablet pocket ensure that it seamlessly adapts to your busy lifestyle.
The Valerio is both sophisticated and practical, with a high-quality buckle strap and magnetic buttons that enhance its overall style. It's more than a functional accessory; it's a fashion statement that completes any closet.