Leather has a timeless appeal. Whether it’s a leather jacket, bag, boots, or upholstery, leather is always fashionable and attractive. Most people prefer genuine leather, though it can be expensive. On the other hand, you’ll find fake leather which looks as good as real leather but for a fraction of the cost. Therefore, it’s not surprising that more and more people are now preferring to buy fake leather instead of the genuine article.
Both real and fake leather have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we’ll discuss the key differences between these two types of leather, and try to determine which is best.
What is genuine leather?
Real or genuine leather is made from animal hides, typically cow hide, though it can also come from a range of other animals such as buffalo or pig. Genuine leather has a unique appearance as no two hides are the same due to natural features. The inconsistent pores and marks of genuine leather gives it a distinctive look.
You can get only a few selections of colors of genuine leather which includes white and different shades of brown and black. It is not washable, and will be damaged if exposed to water, rain or snow. Genuine leather will also fade when exposed to sunlight and will degrade over time if not properly cared for. You must use special leather products to clean leather and keep it in good condition. On the other hand, it is breathable which makes it comfortable to wear.
What is fake leather?
Fake leather, sometimes also called faux leather, is made from synthetic materials such as plastic or vinyl, and later treated with wax, polyurethane, or dye to achieve the desired texture and color. Fake leathers are smooth with a consistent texture. This leather is not breathable and you can easily clean this leather using a damp cloth. You can find it in a large range of colors and is not easily damaged by the elements such as sunlight or rain.
Pros and cons of genuine leather
Genuine leather has a lot of advantages over fake leather. Though it can be very expensive, people still opt for this material for its distinctiveness and unique appeal. However, leather also has some shortcomings which we will also cover.
• Unique and luxurious look, feel and smell which cannot be replicated
• Extremely durable
• High quality
• Over time it softens and looks even better
• Hypoallergenic, so preferred by people with sensitive skin
• Strong and won’t tear easily
• Not animal-friendly (unless you choose ethical leather)
• Limited color options
• Absorbent and stains easily
• Exposure to the sun may damage genuine leather
• Requires special care
Pros and cons of fake leather
Fake leather is also called faux leather, vegan leather, PU leather, or leatherette. They are made of synthetic materials and do not come from animals. Nowadays, fake leather is becoming increasingly popular due to its close resemblance to real leather at a much cheaper price.
• Waterproof, so you can clean it with a damp cloth
• Much cheaper than real leather
• Lots of color options
• Smooth and high-gloss finish
• Easy care
• Doesn’t fade with exposure to the sun
• Not breathable, so can get sticky during hot weather
• Doesn’t have the same appeal as real leather
• Not environmentally-friendly: made from petroleum by-products and production can pollute the environment
• Not hypoallergenic: can irritate sensitive skin
• Can easily be punctured or torn if not worn with care
• Lacks the smell of real leather
How do you spot genuine leather?
You will find a wide range of both real and fake leather products these days. So, how do you know if you’re dealing with genuine or fake leather? One of best ways to tell is to look at the appearance: examine the pores, and if they are placed inconsistently, the leather is genuine. Fake leathers have a consistent and unnaturally-even texture.
If the leather has a plastic-like feel and feels perfectly smooth then it’s sure to be fake leather. Genuine leather also has a distinctive smell that fake leather doesn’t have. If you regularly purchase genuine leather products like Celtic & Co boots you will be familiar with the distinctive smell of real leather.
So, which is a better option, fake or genuine leather? Fake leather may look as good as real leather, sometimes even better because of the bright colors and smooth textures. However, if you consider the overall appeal, then genuine leather has to be the winner. You won’t get that luxurious feel with fake leather products.
When it comes to durability, quality, and environmental impact, fake leather cannot beat genuine leather. Though it’s expensive, good-quality, genuine leather products are always a good investment. The choice between genuine and fake leather really depends on your budget and personal preference. If you have budget constraints and are ready to compromise on quality and appearance, then go for fake leather. Otherwise, genuine leather is undoubtedly the better option.