- Leather expert Tanner Leatherstein deconstructs a $1, 100 Gucci Dionysus leather mini bag.
- He applies acetone to remove the finish and access the leather underneath to check quality.
- He performs an ash test to see whether the mini bag was tanned in the way the brand said it was.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Tanner Leatherstein: Gucci Dionysus bag. Is it worth it?
I’m Tanner. I’ve been deconstructing and inspecting designer luxury leather bags to help people understand if it’s worth it or not, and I’m going to walk you through how I deconstruct the $1, 100 Gucci Dionysus mini bag.
The most misused term in the industry, it’s “genuine leather. ” It may mean really low qualities of leather, and some people use it in very misleading ways. I try to put my estimate on the leather and craftsmanship costs so people can make that deduction. Like, how much of this price is now status coming from the brand? And make your mind by yourself, right?
I look at three things. First is leather. Like, what type of leather-based selection was employed in this design? How good of a leather is required for this kind of finish they employed here? Two is the craftsmanship, the sophistication of the design. And finally, the third one is overall performance value compared to that price point. If you’re looking for just leather, you don’t care about the status, it might be too much for you. And if you are OK, you want to buy the status that comes with the brand, then it’s totally worth it for you. So that’s my intention of helping people with this information.
This buckle will be attached to it very strongly through these metal connections, and it is really hard for me to take it off, so I am cutting the buckle off from the leather to take it out of my way so we can start inspecting the leather. Gucci bag has about two, three layers associated with supporting materials inside. The leather is backened by this particular fabric, which will prevent the stretching of the leather over time, so it’s going to make sure the form stays intact in years to come. There are some thicker supports almost resembling cardboard kind of materials. Sometimes leather dust is employed in those support materials as well to increase the structure rigidity of the bag.
This Dionysus bag has been very rigid and structured bag. It looked, felt, and stayed very solid in its given form, and it was very well executed. Super-good craftsmanship, very good design, and all that. Internal pieces had been carefully planned, selected, and the stitching lines, even the count of the stitches, quality seems really good. I think the shop making this bag, definitely the top-notch artisan shop.
Now I’m applying some acetone, because it’s a very common household dissolver, and I’m using a sharp knife, or a little leather blade, to remove the finish. It’s technically like scraping off a little bit of a cream from top of the natural leather, and there is no certain depth. I go until I see the leather grain. By buckskin grain, I’m talking about the particular pores of the hair cells, actually. You will start seeing the hair cells beyond the finish once those plasticky, gooey substance is gone. And that gooey substance, it’s just liquidized plastic. The finish on it, that pattern-embossed finish, is a thick, heavy finish.
Underneath, when I open the bags, I know this is good leather after touching it, seeing the backside of it, and all that. This is subjective. The leathers I love has this minimal complete where I see the natural grain of leather, because leather is a non-standard organic material, just like, you know, everybody’s skin looks slightly different. Truly minimally finished artisan leathers make unique pieces. No two leather craft will look alike. That’s what I appreciate in leather, but I know this is really almost impossible for big brands to go with due to their size. They need some form of standardization.
Now I’m going to cut really thin strips so I can burn it and understand from the burning characteristics what kind of tanning was involved in this leather. Leather can be tanned different ways. They all burn slightly differently, and they leave various residues, ashes. Chrome-tanned leather burns really slow. You have to force it to keep burning. And then the ashes will usually show some form of green residue, which is the color of the chrome tanning agent. 90%, in my estimate, of leathers are chrome-tanned, because it’s convenient, easy, quick, and very durable, and everybody uses it, but it’s a heavy metal, and it’s more polluting in the tanning technique.
Metal-free leather is a fairly new tanning technique, I would say only becoming more popular in the couple decades. Gucci bag has a metal-free claim. And grain, sometimes they call it feed or pebbled calfskin leather-based, and this is the little pebbles they refer to when they’re talking about that, which is a standardization finish. So the leather they used here is showing me no signs of chrome, which is confirming their claim of metal-free tanning, and that’s as much as I can tell from this test. It doesn’t tell too much of the details when you’re talking about metal-free suntanning, but at least we don’t see signs of chrome.
In my opinion, this handbag can be made about $115 in leather and labor, material cost. It was definitely well made. It’s beautiful natural leather employed here. The quality of craftsmanship and accessories is exceptional. Of course , it’s a big brand name. It’s Gucci. There is a premium, definitely, you’re paying in the price of $1, 100, due to the fact eventually, regardless how good of a leather you use, price doesn’t go above a certain point because of the leather. Then, when you start seeing astronomical prices, you know that it’s not about the leather anymore, it’s about the status that is included with the price. That’s the whole point of my question associated with, is it worth it or not? Leather is not cheap, but it can never astronomically expensive.