TYPES OF LEATHER
The price of leather products is usually determined by what type of leather has been used and how the product has been produced. Full grain leather is often considered to be the highest quality leather whilst bonded leather and genuine leather are considered to be the lowest quality. You would typically expect to find cheaper furniture such as sofas made from bonded leather whilst high street fashion stores typically stock genuine leather in order to offer more affordable prices. In comparison, designer labels will typically use full grain leather or calf leather or even exotic leathers such as ostrich. The animal skin used is another signal which affects price. Cowhide is the most popular leather, and therefore more expensive than cheaper alternatives such as goat and buffalo.
DYES AND COLOURS
It is not surprising that fully dyed leathers are more expensive than semi-dyed leathers due to the difficulty and more time spent on trying to find higher quality hides which will be able to be exposed to the dye. Some leather is finished by machine spraying which is much cheaper than some leathers which are antiqued by hand. It also depends on what colour you are producing. For example, it is far cheaper to produce a large quantity of hides in one single colour rather than a few hides all in different, less popular colours. The money saved in producing them in a bulk way makes the product cheaper for the consumer. White leather is considered the most difficult colour leather to produce and therefore, you would expect that a white leather jacket or bag would command a higher price.
Higher quality leather products typically use vegetable tanning which does not use chemicals to dye the leather and instead uses natural methods of colouring such as tree bark and tannin. This takes a lot longer than other tanning methods so it becomes more expensive. The majority of leather is treated by chrome tanning which uses chemicals to tan the leather which is far quicker and results in cheaper leather products.
SMALL COMPANIES VERSUS BIG COMPANIES
Large companies typically have more overheads than smaller family run businesses, and therefore it can be argued that their leather products are perhaps more expensive than smaller companies. However, on the flip side, they are able to mass produce large quantities due to their budget and producing leather in bulk is of course cheaper than producing smaller runs. At MAHI, we reduce our costs by cutting out the middleman, and are therefore able to pass these savings onto our customers whilst still producing made to order full grain leather bags. Our made to order ethos means that we reduce the storage costs associated with holding stock and stockpiling large quantities of leather.
Italian leather is often associated with luxury high end leather bags, and it is true that the Italian leather industry traditionally only uses the best quality hides which often undergo a more lengthy treatment process. However, a region in itself should not be a signal for whether the leather is high or low quality, as there are other factors to take into consideration in order to warrant the price tag. Goat and buffalo leather, traditionally produced in India, is typically considered a cheaper leather as the hides themselves do not command the same price as cow hide. This is because these leathers are not as deemed as good quality as cow leather. Goat leather can often have a strong smell and a thinner skin.