To understand why department store "leather products" fall apart, you need to know a little about the four basic leather grades.
Full-grain leather: This is leather made from the outside of a cow hide. It's the highest quality, the most expensive, and the most durable. It's the top layer of leather that protected the cow from barbed wire and predators. It still has all it's natural markings and texture. We love this!
Top-grain leather: This is also a high quality leather, the only difference between full-grain, and top-grain, is that the top-grain started as full-grain, and had a little bit of the top layer sanded off to remove some of the scarring and imperfections and might have had some of the bottom removed to make it slightly thinner and more pliable.
Genuine leather: Genuine leather is the bottom layer of leather opposite the outside layer. Genuine leather did come from a cow, but it's the weakest part of the leather torn off the bottom of full-grain leather. It's not very durable and falls apart very easily. To make genuine leather look like full-grain leather, companies will often texturize it with a steel roller and then lacquer it with a plastic coating to fool you.
Bonded leather: In some countries and states it's not even legal to call this "leather". Bonded leather is made by grinding up scraps of leather together with leather dust and then gluing it all back together. Just like the genuine leather they will texturize it with a steel roller and then lacquer it with a plastic coating so you think it's full-grain.