Full Grain Leather vs Genuine Leather and Other Grades

No classic attire is complete without a leather belt. It is like a fashion stamp of approval for your attire.  However, buying a high quality leather belt can be difficult business when not informed about the different grades of leather. There are many variations on a belt made of leather-like genuine, full-grain, and top grain. Let's dive in and compare.

Full Grain Leather Vs. Genuine leather

Full Grain Leather & Genuine leather

Full-Grain is the most popular and expensive type of leather. Full grains use cowhides with no smoothing or polishing done on the raw material. Full-grain leather only uses the finest raw materials, allowing it to last a lifetime and if taken care of properly, even longer. Another interesting feature of this type of leather is that it develops with a patina; it ages beautifully and with unique character. No two full grain leather belts will age the same.

Full-grain leather is also very strong, as natural grains contain strong hidden fibers. Although strong and durable, full-grain leather remains highly breathable, a consequence of it's low moisture content for extended periods of time. Indeed, the more you use it, the better it looks and feels.

Though it is often more expensive, full grains pay off  in durability. If you invest in something made of full-grain leather, you will have that item for the rest of your life if you take good care of it. Check out our Leather Care Guide for more information on taking care of full grain leather products.

Genuine leather is almost worthless for consumers. Unfortunately, most consumers still believe that genuine leather is "superior" or at least a quality product that demands a higher price. On the contrary, it often does not. Genuine leather is a marketing term and often made from the bottom cut and is highly processed. 

The term 'genuine leather' is deliberately misleading. It is often read as meaning 'you can be sure that this is genuine leather,' and it really means there is only a percentage of leather in this product. Genuine leather products are cheaper to buy, but much lower quality than full-grain leather products. 

The goods marked as genuine leather will be several layers of low-quality leather glued and painted to look like high-quality leather and made with the discarded materials of full-grain leather. 

Full Grain Leather Vs. Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather is essentially full grain leather that has been corrected for marks and discolorations. It is the most expensive type of leather in the market. Though some people prefer this corrected leather, full grain leather is the most sought after due to its natural beauty and unique character as it ages. 

Final Thoughts

  • Full-grain leather belts are expensive because of its high quality and generally start at $50. On the other hand, genuine leather belts are cheaper and lower quality and can be purchased under $20 (though it is often sold over $50 to unassuming consumers!)
  • Full grain leather is made of high-quality cowhide, and retains natural animal markings. Genuine Leather is made from left over materials and usually coated with a layer of synthetic leather.
  • Full-grain leather is highly flexible and durable. In contrast, a genuine leather belt will crust over time and its leather will crack or break, especially around the holes.
  • A full-grain leather belt does not burn or melt easily whereas genuine leather softens when it catches fire.

Find the highest quality Men's Full Grain Leather Belts and Women's Full Grain Leather Belts, ethically produce and handmade in Canada. Lifetime guaranteed! 


Hi Ron, Grey, Mike,

Thank you for your questions. Real leather is synonymous with full grain. It is unprocessed, untreated and 100% full grain. Top grain is processed to remove imperfections.

Genuine leather is a marketing term and by law has to only be 40% real/ full grain leather. You never know what you’ll get. It often contains filler, polyurethane, or other bonded materials.

All our belts are mare from 9-10oz full grain leather and are backed by a lifetime guarantee!

NAB EH June 17, 2021

I’m wondering when you will answer the two people who want to know what REAL leather is. I’m the third person who wants to know.


Mike June 14, 2021

I have fallen for the “genuine” classification more times than I care to admit, but I have the same question as Ronald Waddling. Where does “Real leather” fit?
As well, on the “Full grain leather vs genuine leather and other grades” page you have this:
“Unfortunately, most consumers still believe that genuine leather is “superior” or at least a quality product that demands a higher price. On the contrary, it often does not. "
It “often” does not require a higher price than full grain leather? Are there times it does?

Grey Masson June 09, 2021

I have ordered a full grain belt and look forward to its arrival. When shopping on your webpage I wondered why you refer to REAL LEATHER and yet in your leather descriptions page you never explain it. You refer to FULL GRAIN, TOP GRAIN, AND GENUINE LEATHER for comparison BUT in your product descriptions you only make reference to real leather as an available product ( with no value description) and full grain which is explained as the best. This is very confusing. What is REAL LEATHER and its value in your product? Thanks ~Ron

Ronald Waddling May 04, 2021

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