Full Grain v. Top Grain

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Superfluous, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. eggleman

    eggleman One of the Regulars

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    :second:ed
     
  2. Monitor

    Monitor

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    This Shinki jacket is incredibly beautiful!
     
  3. Bunyip

    Bunyip Call Me a Cab

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    Very very interesting. Good stuff guys.
     
  4. dudewuttheheck

    dudewuttheheck Call Me a Cab

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    Great post. I know that Shinki is in no way cheap. Diamond Dave for example, switched from Horween to Shinki and subsequently raised his prices by $400. RMC and Himel in particular are not cheap jackets. Even JC, who is by no means a crook, is still quite expensive. I know Shinki is expensive. Whether or not it is the best or most expensive is up for debate, but the assertion that people use it because it is affordable for them and not because they think it's amazing is unfounded and easily refuted.
     
  5. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

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    The reading comprehension of some here is sorely wanting.
     
  6. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    People seem to read randomly and often respond like they are free associating.
     
  7. BuzzTheTower

    BuzzTheTower New in Town

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    50 Shades of Grain

    Gents,

    I'm guilty of not reading the beginning of the thread well enough. I should have done better. I'm in the midst of a large patterning project and should have been working on that.

    I'm also guilty of not knowing if the hides I'm getting are full or top grain. Below are detailed images of one piece aniline hides I use, and I have never asked Shinki since 2009 if I'm getting full or top grain leather. If the photos do any justice, then good, but if I ask Shinki what I'm getting, I don't think I'll get an answer soon. I get one email from them...it's a note of what I need to pay for my last request. They are very busy, don't speak much English, and don't chat with me. I wish I could say that I can ask them anything I want, and get an answer in 24 hours, but that's not the case.

    I wish I could answer straight, though! I know you want it.

    I won't post the prices of the tanneries that I work with, as I think that's private business, and I have no idea what anyone else is being charged by the tanneries, and I am not comfortable in giving out that information.

    How about photos? Makes me look like a fool, but it's all I have. There are images of two shades of leather in the last photos, which show the back side of the hide, and the hide cut edge. The lighter color is a semi-aniline, so I think it doesn't count.

    Image_01.jpg

    Image_02.jpg

    Image_03.jpg

    Image_04.jpg

    It now looks like Shinki versus the BK horsehide tannery. I don't like that. They offer fantastic products, and I don't like seeing two sides build into camps of "We are in a fight, you have to join us!" There is a time for that, but I'd rather just show you photos of Shinki hides in detail and you can judge. I am not the most educated when it comes to leather, and I have a lot to learn.

    Anyone can email Shinki to ask them if the horsehide is full or top grain. It may be top grain, and it may be full grain. I'm embarrassed that I don't know.

    I hope that helps!
    John
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  8. dudewuttheheck

    dudewuttheheck Call Me a Cab

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    Is that not how things are done here? I read an average of 100 pages per day for college so in all honesty I skip around here and on other forums. It's quite frankly the norm everywhere else, but I can understand if things are different here. However, after reading through the entire thread my other post on this page still stands. And yes I'm pretty sure you and the other guy were referring to me. I do apologize for not being fully informed when posting:)


    Back on topic:

    Thanks for another informative and honest post Buzz/Mr. Chapman. I have no problem that you or other makers don't truly know whether or not your hides are top or full grain. I have seen pictures of Shinki and Horween and it seems (and I could certainly be wrong here as I am no expert) that the tanning and dying process is of utmost importance to what I care about most: how the jacket ages.

    For example, the pics you posted of the one year old Shinki jacket and that reaffirms why I went with a jacket made of that hide. It ages incredibly beautifully.

    If you aren't a true expert in leather, may I ask why you went with Shinki? Even with what you claim is a relatively small amount of knowledge on the subject, something(s) must have caused you to choose them.

    This question is for everyone, but especially anyone who actually makes leather jackets or leather products (except Andy real, because he has answered this already): is this thread a little overblown in the first place? Is top grain vs. full grain even relevant? Does it truly affect the toughness and durability of the jacket or the way the jacket breaks in/patinas to a significant degree? I know we have recently had a debate over veg vs. chrome tanning. The difference between this and that thread is that while we can still argue over which method is actually better, it is obvious that chrome and veg-tanning produce distinguishably unique products. However, is this true to the same degree with top vs. full grain? I know what Andy will say, but I am wondering if anyone else can weigh in on this. No offense intended to Andy, but with him being as clearly biased as he is, it would be nice to hear another opinion on the matter… I wish David Himel or some guys from Aero or Alexander posted something about this.

    If I can liken this to something I understand better: Is it more like a hollow log drum shell vs. a block shell drum. A hollow log drum shell has no glue at all and is literally just a log that has been cut out into a solid hollow drum shell. A block drum shell is several vertical blocks taken from the same part of the tree and glued in. Both methods are FAR, FAR superior in sound to a plywood shell, but the hollow log, while much more expensive and time consuming, does not have a significantly better sound to the other and is not more durable. The sound vs. price difference is not really worth it and for all intents and purposes, both are of the same quality sound wise.

    I hope that made sense, sorry for such a random tangent.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  9. andyfalzon

    andyfalzon Vendor

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    Location:
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    First let me say that I don't think that the mods deleted something because it was contradictory to what Mr John Chapman said. I think that the discussion there went out of line with some other members and the mods who wished to keep it polite deleted some posts and together some useful leather information and opinions exchange that was posted.

    Back to topic, a while back we had a contact with Shinki and they sent us some samples of the horsehides they specifically produce for A-2.
    Those were definitely top grain.

    Photos:

    [​IMG]

    close up photo, hair follicles more visible here
    [​IMG]

    This here is the underside of the skin sample bearing Shinki's stamp. You can read "JAPAN"
    [​IMG]

    At about the same time we received some samples from an unnamed Japanese tannery (via an agent) and those were full grain and cheaper than Shinki's top grain.

    For sure it should not be this maker vs the other maker, or this tannery vs the other tannery.
    Shinki makes great leather, and their finish is one of the nicest we have seen when it comes to A-2 jackets.
    So, it is natural that RMJP, Buzz Rickson, Freewheelers and the others choose Shinki, since Shinki "dominates" the market of horsehide in Japan. Those makers won't go into the trouble of importing from Italy or elsewhere when a tannery next door offers them acceptable quality.

    Recently, we were criticized for increasing our prices, and I must say again that we could not keep offering the most expensive stuff for cheaper indefinitely. And please stop considering BK products as inferior because they were cheaper.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  10. hpalapdog

    hpalapdog One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    uk
    Some good info in this thread, inspired me to dig out my YMC B3 from summer storage and take some close up photos.

    The arm facings and pocket are made from Italian horse, and using the criteria used in Andy's post is I think a full grain leather. Eastman use this hide on some of their A-2 contracts.

    [​IMG]



    The leather used to tape the seams is the standard ELC house HH. The hair follicles are larger and the leather uniformly smoother on top = top grain. A leather that's been skimmed and pressed.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  11. Ishmael

    Ishmael Practically Family

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    546
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    This is a really interesting discussion. And all the pictures and commentary are really helpful.

    That said, I'd like to hear more about what makes full grain better.

    All commodities have "use value" and "exchange value". Are they related? Of course. Are they perfectly correlated? Absolutely not.

    Thus far we've heard that full grain has a higher exchange value than top grain.

    But, at least from my reading, I've yet to see any statement alluding to what makes full grain more "useful" than top grain.
     
  12. andyfalzon

    andyfalzon Vendor

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    Let's say for example you are looking for wedding rings and there's white gold and platinum. Both are metal, both will do exactly the same job, both are durable etc. But platinum will cost you extra. If you find that more "useful" you pay for it and get it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  13. hpalapdog

    hpalapdog One of the Regulars

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    John, sorry my speculation on the workings of a moderators mindset was based on the mistaken assumption you were a site affiliate !

    These guys can test for chrome oxides in leather

    http://www.blcleathertech.com/testing-services/chemical-testing.htm
     
  14. andyfalzon

    andyfalzon Vendor

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    Location:
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    No need for any lab tests. Please bear with me, I try to will post the pictorial later today.
     
  15. Yeah..that example explains alot. I have leather jackets from what many of us consider top manufacturers with beautiful hides and somehow just don't find myself upset at all that they may not be 'full' grain...or BK.
    HD
     
  16. andyfalzon

    andyfalzon Vendor

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    Location:
    europe
    No reason for anyone to be upset. If you read previous posts, the garment industry traditionally uses top grain. Top grain does the job just fine.

    You are not cheated in anyway if you buy a jacket that is made with top grain leather. Some manufacturers from those considered top use both full grain and top grain. BK has used both kinds and now use only full grain. FYG BK started as a modest jacket maker, but to speed up its way up decided to use full grain only to have an advantage since most others were using top grain.

    That said, full grain is generally accepted as more natural and more beautiful. Consequently more beautiful leather will make more beautiful jackets, but of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  17. Oh..of course...:p
     
  18. Ishmael

    Ishmael Practically Family

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    546
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Dogs, wine, precious metals. I thought we were talking about leathers?

    That really is a poor explanation. And you're certainly not doing your brand or your full grain leather any favors.

    Sounds like you are trying to make a niche market out of thin air.
     
  19. hpalapdog

    hpalapdog One of the Regulars

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    295
    Location:
    uk
    Please keep the thread on topic. I've spent time posting photos, as have others. I don't want the mods to start deleting pages again and locking the thread.
     
  20. Dickie Teenie

    Dickie Teenie A-List Customer

    Messages:
    367
    Location:
    Iowa now Athens Gr.
    Looks like their supplying the market with some tasty jackets.
     

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