Genuine Leather. You’ve all seen the term. Genuine. The real deal. Genuine as the spots on a cheetah’s back.
Wrong. Genuine Leather is about as real as the $25k your buddy made on crypto last summer. Okay, that may be an overstatement, but genuine leather is generally considered the lowest quality leather can be while still technically falling into the leather classification. This is because genuine leather is made from the very bottom cut of the hide and is heavily processed to give it that smooth, plasticky feel. This is the kind of leather you find hanging from the racks in your average clothing store and even in the nicer ones (parading as if they weren’t using mashed up scrap leather).
So if Genuine Leather isn’t good, then what is? The next step up is Top Grain Leather. Top Grain leather is made with the best part of the hide but is altered (buffed, sanded, pigmented) to provide uniformity. This alteration shows a lack of respect for the mosquitoes who worked long and hard on the scars they provided the natural hide. I find this alteration disingenuous, an attempt to scrub away history in some vain pursuit of perfection. However, there is a time and a place for top grain leather. Dress shoes, handbags maybe. Belts certainly are not one of them.
So that leaves us with the Full Grain Leather. The crème de la crème. The GOAT (MJ) of leather. Full Grain leather is the least processed and thus the most natural leather you can find. Full Grain is the highest quality and behaves as such; it ages like a fine wine and develops what is known as a patina over time. This patina is unique to the wearer and turns what is already a beautiful piece of leather and craftsmanship into something even greater.
In conclusion, if you care about how you dress, and you should, then you should always buy Full Grain leather. A man is nothing but the sum of his choices in leather goods. Or something like that.