2014 Elections are over, and you know what that means, people! It's time for the next most important and volatile choice of the year - what kind of leather am I going to buy for myself today?
Shopping for leather can be a stressful process. But don't worry about it - most of your strategy will come straight from the gut, and only a little from the brain. Today, we're going to fill you in on how to use those unlimited cognitive powers of yours to snag the snaggiest leather jackpot in your life.
Weighing the Cost
The first thing you need to consider is how much you are willing to pay. I won't lie to you - leather costs a lot to produce. Depending on the type of leather you plan to buy, it can take months of hard work to tan and preserve leather to the point it can even be used, nevermind turning it into an actual couch or handbag. When you going looking for quality leather, expect to hand out some dough. Fortunately, quality leather will generally only be a one time purchase if you know what to look for, so you're basically investing in a life long companion. Feel free to get as sentimental as you want about that.
The alternative is, of course, to buy cheap leather. It goes without saying, you get what you pay for. It won't be difficult to find faux leather or leather with smaller cuts - they possess much the same fashion and little of the substance. While faux leather has made admirable advances over the years, it still suffers from decreased breathability, artificial qualities, and high petroleum use. Consider that these are generally produced en masse on an assembly line, whereas quality leather is generally made by hand, every piece unique and original. On the plus side, faux leather won't need as much maintenance as authentic leather, and is easier to keep clean.
Some Responsibility Required
Speaking of keeping things clean, that's another issue to consider. How much work do you want to put into this leather? You should probably know that investing in leather is like investing a pet. The only difference is that a) it's dead, and b) it doesn't leave messes. One might even conclude that owning leather is better than owning a pet because it demands so much less attention and you can carry your wallet in there. This aside, depending on the type of leather you get, it may semi-regular treatments to stay in shape. This mostly includes both cleaning it and conditioning it. If you're unsure about that conditioning thing, check out our blog "How Does Leather Breathe?" Bottom line, the more work you put into your leather, the greater the return. Suede practically needs no maintenance at all apart from the occasional dust spotting, but it doesn't live very long compared to full grain leather, which can easily outlive you even with sub-par care.
You Can Show it the World
Next, you need to ask yourself what you're going to be using this leather for. Is this leather going to be indoors most of the time? Are you going to go hiking with it? Will it see a lot of snow? Will it be in the sunlight frequently? Do you intend to bring it with you into the bathtub?
All of these are important questions you need to consider. They could have unparalleled impact on the relationship you will have with your leather. Say, for example, you take your ostrich leather briefcase out for a Mary Poppins stroll in Kensington Gardens. Unlike Mary Poppins, you don't carry magic umbrellas in your handbag. Before you know it, you're getting peltered with rain and hail because the universe has it out for you today. While you and I produce oils in our body that make all this rain little more than an aggravating nuance, your ostrich leather is going to be fighting for its very right to live. On the other hand, while water can still be bad for any kind of leather, a full grain type with a pigmented finish could last a little while, and may come out of a rainstorm looking entirely the same. I've done it. Dave Munson took it one step further.
You can read a bit about the differences between finishes in our blog "How to Identify Types of Leather." I'll break things down for you. With more protection the less aesthetics the more you can do with it. If you want to go mountain climbing on the steep and rugged cliffs of Mount Everest, aesthetic appeal is second to your leather's ability to hold out against the elements. Choose something with a more complete finish, like pigmented or semi-aniline. If your leather's going to be your lapdog, or under your lap, indoors for a very long time, go with aniline. Of course, you can always apply protectors later, such as Chamberlain's Water Protectant No. 3. That'll help keep pesky waters out.
Long Story Short
Buying leather isn't just a simple matter of, "Look at the pretty colors! Imma buy that thing now!" As dear-to-my-heart Poppins put it, "Never judge things by their appearance... even carpetbags. I'm sure I never do." Use discretion before you buy, and make a calculated decision. Quality leather might be more expensive in the short term, but if you plan on keeping it around for a while, it''ll probably be cheaper to make one good purchase than lots and lots of cheap purchases. Leather ages, and the care you give yours determines how fast it will go. No matter whether you are buying a jacket, boots, a purse, a briefcase, backpack, wallet, sofa - or anything - when you buy, buy something that will make you look good. And will keep making you look good.
When your leather purse can withstand the sheer destructive magnitude of a 45 megaton nuke, you have my permission to buy.