No! Unfortunately, it is not…
Leather (in our case, cow leather) gets sorted after the process of tanning, and only the best-looking pieces of leather with no huge imperfections are further processed into final products without any further mechanical processes. These products are of the highest quality and last the longest. All of the natural leather attributes can be seen on these pieces of leather, just like on human skin – wrinkles, veins, scars, bug bites, uneven structure, differences in colour and natural pores are present on the leather, which further differentiates it from artificial leather or corrected leather. The surface can be treated with transparent aniline varnishes, wax finish, … The texture of each piece of leather is unique just like a texture of a piece of wood. But these are only 10-15% of the actual amount of products. FULL GRAIN – leather, which does not need any retouch, because of its natural perfection.
Pieces of leather with a larger amount of imperfections are further processed: a layer of pigment is added on the surface, to cover up its flaws and a pattern is embossed. The pattern can be unobtrusive, it can imitate a different animal (for example a crocodile), or it can imitate anything depending on a fashion trend. The most used pattern is commonly known as orange leather. Its characteristic is a uniform, corrected surface. This type of leather is still of a high quality and it’s labelled TOP GRAIN. It is mostly used on sofas or steering wheels. Pores in the leather can be covered partly, or completely, until the leather “stops breathing”.
When the surface of leather is even more damaged, it gets sanded, and a layer of pigment, lacquer and pattern, or foil is added – there are many different techniques. The problem is, that the outer layer of leather, one of the highest quality, is removed, which lowers its durability and long lasting qualities. It is indeed true, that more processed the leather is, more the quality decreases. Every further processing of leather takes it further away from its natural beauty. The usage of this kind of leather can result in peeling of the applied outer layer. It still is natural leather, so the label GENUINE LEATHER is still correct, but it is no longer ideal for sofas or steering wheels. However, that is not something anybody will tell you, they will not warrant the type of leather your product is made from.
Only after the outer layer of leather is sanded, and the surface gets lightly treated, the leather is called NUBUCK. Sanded look of the back side of the leather is called SEUDE, which is not as long lasting and durable.