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Your Guide to Buying Sustainable and Quality Leather Bags

Cheers to a New Year, Changemakers! This year let’s promise to become better versions of ourselves.

The School of Satchel aims to encourage the community to lean towards a sustainable lifestyle. One step is to say NO to FAST FASHION. Mass Production has continuously been one of the top contributors to landfills with toxic wastes, and it's destroying our environment. This needs to stop, and we need your help.

We came up with a simple guide to help in making that mindful choice in sustainability, quality, and even style. Sharing with you our simple guide to buying a sustainable and quality leather bag. There are only 5 things you need to remember and don’t worry, they’re easy!


For leather bags, you need to look for ones that are made of Full Grain. In leather, we have 3 grades we need to be mindful of.

image courtesy of:

Full Grain Leather is the highest quality leather you can get. It’s made from the outermost layer of the hide that shows all its natural grain. It develops a patina (a natural aging characteristic of leather) over time. You will not get this with lesser quality leather.

Patina on Franco Messenger Bag made of Full Grain Cowhide Leather

Top Grain Leather is the second-highest grade. The leather is sanded or buffed to reduce the blemishes from the natural hide. It doesn’t age as nicely as Full Grain, but it is a more affordable alternative.

Genuine Leather is the lowest grade, and this is the type of leather we must avoid. This type uses leather scrap pieces and is reworked with chemicals and plastic to resemble a higher-grade leather. It does not age well, and with prolonged use, it will dry, crack, and get worse.

One way of distinguishing real leather is the distinct earthy leather smell.


There are 2 leather tanning processes to preserve leather.

Chrome-Tanning – involves Chromium and other chemicals to preserve the leather. This is the fastest way to preserve the leather as it takes only a couple of days to finish. About 90% of the market use this type of leather tanning process.

Vegetable-Tanning – A traditional way of preserving leather that uses organic materials such as tree barks and oak. This is friendly to the environment, and the process takes a little longer to finish making the leather products more expensive compared to chrome-tanning.

Vegetable-Tanned Leather appears thicker and stiffer which makes it more durable. This works best for higher-end leather bags, together with its distinct leather smell and excellent patina.

The Vegetable-Tanned Lukas and Emma Satchel

3. Durability and Handwork

Be wary of selecting leather bags by checking the stitching.

Stitching - The stitching should be straight, barely noticeable, and without loose threads. A way to check this is to look at the inner and outer surfaces for consistency.

Handle – Make sure the handle is stitched and attached to the body with metal wares. DO NOT SETTLE for glued handles – this tends to come off easily.

4. Hardware

Pay close attention to the buckles, handles, locks, and zippers. Checking hardware is a quick way to evaluate the overall quality of the Leather Bag. High Quality leather bags are always paired with high quality sourced metalware.

*The zippers are also a quick way to check the quality. The zipper should be easy to open and close, feels heavy and durable, and does not get stuck.

5. Price

The price should not always be your indicator for choosing quality products.

REMEMBER: You're looking to buy a PREMIUM Leather product, not the name brand premium.

BONUS: Choose ETHICAL and LOCAL Brands

Ethical Brands create products that do not harm people and the environment. They support fair trade and ensure no one is shortchanged from the whole supply-chain process. Let us also be instruments in encouraging fellow Filipinos to believe and love homegrown, and help to provide our local industries sustainable living.

Buy a Bag you will LOVE and NEED. One that brings you delight with every use that will last for years. 😊

The School of Satchel is an ETHICAL and LOCAL Brand. We create purposeful, classic, and functional leather bags and accessories. Our partner local leather craftsmen use responsibly sourced full-grain leather, vegetable-tanned.

Join us in our advocacy to promote the local leather industry by creating awareness that local can be your first choice through creating responsibly sourced and well-crafted leather bags and accessories, while at the same time, leaning towards a sustainable lifestyle.

Choose Ethical, Support Local. Choose The School of Satchel.



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