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What is leather patina and how do I get it?

Leather patina

What is leather patina?

Leather becomes increasingly attractive as it ages – think of the rich dark colour and soft creases of an old leather belt, the smooth shine of a wallet, or the battered (but still sturdy) cover of a well-used leather journal. This is ‘leather patina’: the effect of time and use on the leather.

But not all leathers are made equal, or able to develop a patina. So, here’s our guide to getting this beloved effect:

Choose the right leather

We craft all our leather accessories from full grain, vegetable tanned leather. High-quality leather is essential for a beautiful patina, and it works like this:

Vegetable tanning: uses plant-based tannins that preserves the leather whilst giving it a light tan colour. This leather absorbs its environment and alters in response, weathering into a rich patina. Vegetable tanned leather can also be naturally dyed, which still allows the leather to patina. In contrast, chrome tanned leather struggles to patina – the chemicals used to tan the leather turn it a pale blue colour and it is then artificially dyed or treated for a finished effect.

Full grain: This is the highest grade of leather and made from the strongest part of the hide. After tanning, leather is usually split into layers for different thicknesses and uses. The upper layers are strongest: ‘full grain’ has a beautiful surface texture from the animal’s skin, which can be sanded down for smooth ‘top grain’ leather. The layers below these are weaker so they are sealed or coated – which makes them unable to develop a patina. These are often sold on to make cheaper goods marketed as ‘genuine leather’!

By using the highest grade of leather, we can ensure that all our accessories are heirloom quality. They are designed to last the years and develop a unique patina along the way.

Make use of the leather

Once you have your high-quality leather accessory, the patina will follow naturally. All you need to do is use it!

The patina occurs organically, in response to how you use the item. Are there areas on your wallet that you repeatedly touch? Those patches will darken with the skin’s natural oils. Exposure to sunlight will alter the tone of the leather, perhaps carrying the memory of holidays or long summers. Patina is also textural. Key scratches, card scuffs or creases settle into the leather and tell the story of your use.

When we get something new, we try our best to keep it pristine. We all know what it’s like to scrape a painted wall, spill on the furniture, or stain our favourite t-shirt! But the wonderful thing about leather is that it welcomes heavy use – it’s made to endure all you can throw at it. Every moment builds up a pattern which is unique to you!

Patina doesn’t happen overnight; the subtle changes occur over years to create an item that is very personal and special.

So why not explore the leather items we have available? Find your perfect piece, and let it record the years to come.

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