What is Patina?

Before we discuss how to patina leather, it’s important to understand what patina is. 

Patina is the visible aged look that forms on metals, wood, stone, jeans, or leather. A beautiful, rich patina is usually the sign of a quality item that has lasted the test of time and has been well-used. Think a family heirloom watch, passed down generations that has changed colour and picked up its share of marks and scratches that help tell its story.

What is patina? It’s unique. It’s the mark of a high-quality item. It’s character that develops with daily use over the course of days, months, and years. Patina tells a story.

Black Flag Leather Goods - Leather Coffee Sleeve


Black Flag Leather Goods - Davis Cardholder Wallet



Cardholder developing patina fishing




What Causes Patina?

Essentially use and time cause leather to patina. It’s the accumulation of scuffs and scratches, oil from your hands, dye from your jeans, where you keep it, and even sunlight that cause the unique look. Leather is like a sponge, soaking up whatever it can. Even that extra spicy salsa that fell out of your taco, landing square in the middle of your new wallet… That stain is now (delicious) patina. This is why no two leather items are ever the same. They are as unique as their experiences.

What Kind of Leather is Best for Developing Patina?

Full-Grain Leather. I’ve previously discussed why full-grain leather is superior and it is no different when it comes to developing patina. For one, full-grain leather is durable and able to last long enough to actually develop a patina. It is also more natural and able to absorb patina-forming oils, dirt, dye, sunlight, etc. Even more so if it is a natural vegetable tanned leather. Dyed leathers still show patina, but the already darker colour and waxes/oils used in them slow the process or make it less drastic. Genuine leather is often painted and coated with a finish which gives it a uniform appearance and prevents patina from forming.

How to Patina Leather?

Don’t baby it! Leather is tough. You can use and abuse it and it will be up to the challenge. If you buy a wallet from us and then keep it tucked away in a bag away from the elements, you’re never going to get that patina. Live your life and take it along for the ride. Keep it in your pocket, toss it around, leave it out in the sun. It’s just going to keep building character. 

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