Real Leather vs Faux Leather: Which Is Best?

Have you ever wondered if faux leather is better than genuine leather? Before making a purchase, I would want to know the differences between natural and faux leather. Both have benefits but knowing which is best for you is crucial. In this post, I’ll outline the pros and cons of each material so you can make an informed decision. Let’s get started!

What Is Real Leather?

Real, genuine leather is produced from the skin of an animal. The most common animals used for natural leather are cows, although other animals, such as pigs, goats, and sheep, are also used. Real leather is a natural product used for centuries for various purposes, including clothing, footwear, and upholstery.

There is a lot of controversy over how genuine leather is obtained since it uses animal hide. However, you should know that most of this hide comes from cows already used for their meat. 

How Is Leather Made?

Real leather is made by tanning the skin of an animal. Tanning is a process that preserves the hide or skin by using different chemicals. The most common method of real tanning leather is chromium tanning, which uses chromium sulfate or chromium oxide to preserve the hide. 

Tanning real leather makes it more durable and less susceptible to damage from water, sunlight, and insects.

What Is Faux Leather?

Faux leather is a man-made fabric that imitates the look and feel of real leather. It is made from a mix of polyurethane, PVC, and polyester. Faux leather is often used in clothing, upholstery, and accessories.

How Is Faux Leather Made?

Faux leather, also called artificial or synthetic leather, is made by chemically altering natural materials to create a new product. The key ingredient in most fake leather is polyurethane, a compound often produced from petroleum products. 

First, the polyurethane is heated and then combined with other chemicals, such as acrylics, polyesters, and cationic polyamides. These ingredients are all thoroughly mixed until they form a liquid, paste-like substance. This mixture can then be poured onto forms or spread out into sheets cut into various shapes and sizes.

Although the exact process varies depending on the manufacturer and the intended use of the faux leather product, one thing remains constant. Through careful processing, raw materials become faux leather.

Pros and Cons of Real Leather

There are many opinions on using natural leather, and it can often be difficult to conclude its pros and cons. 

On the one hand, real leather is a durable and high-quality material prized for its natural beauty. It can also be more environmentally friendly than other synthetic materials, as it is made from animal hides that have been sustainably farmed and processed. 

However, using real leather involves ethical concerns about treating animals used in production and possible environmental impacts associated with leather tanning processes. 

Whether or not to use real leather depends on personal preferences and consideration for this material’s potential benefits and drawbacks.

To sum it up, the pros of real leather include the following:

  • Highly durable
  • Has a natural beauty to it
  • More eco-friendly compared to other synthetic materials

There are, of course, drawbacks of real leather:

  • Controversial raw materials.
  • It can be very expensive. 
  • It is easily damaged. 

Pros and Cons of Faux Leather

Faux leather is much more environmentally friendly than traditional leather. Because it doesn’t involve the use of animal hides, it does not contribute to animal suffering or deforestation. Additionally, faux leather can be cheaper than real leather, making it an appealing option for those on a budget. 

However, some may argue that faux leather doesn’t have the same look and feel as real leather. In addition, a quality synthetic product can sometimes cost more than its natural counterpart. 

The advantages of using faux leather include:

  • It doesn’t crack easily.
  • It can be cleaned with a damp cloth. 
  • It can be made in almost every color. 
  • It is UV resistant. 
  • It is animal friendly.

Some drawbacks include:

  • It doesn’t have real leather luster.
  • Is not hypoallergenic.

Leather Vs. Faux Leather

Regarding leather, it can be hard to distinguish between real and fake leather. Both materials are often used in shoes, wallets, and other products where consumers want the look and feel of high-quality materials. However, several key differences can help you distinguish real leather from its less expensive counterpart.

FeatureReal LeatherFaux Leather
DurabilityHighly durable.More prone to cracks and tears.
Environmental impactMore eco-friendly and less wasteful.Made with imported plastic and has a high eco-footprint.  
Feel and lookTimeless design.Very thin and plasticky.
SmellVery distinct and unique scent.Smells like a synthetic material.
Sourcingis Controversial (it’s made from animal hide).Made from a treated plastic base, animal-friendly.

FAQs

Is faux leather good?

Faux leather is a man-made fabric that imitates the look and feel of real leather. It’s made from various materials, including polyurethane, PVC, and polyester. Faux leather is often used in clothing, upholstery, and accessories.

What is faux leather called?

While many people refer to faux leather as simply “faux leather,” there are a number of other terms that are typically used to describe this type of material. Some common alternatives include pleather, leatherette, and artificial leather. 

These terms denote synthetic substitutes for real leather, often used in furniture and fashion products. Pleather is perhaps the most widely used term for faux leather, largely due to its similarity in sound to the French term “Cuir pleine fleur” (or full-grain) leather.

How can you tell real leather from fake?

One of the simplest and most reliable indicators is smell. In general, genuine leather has a distinctive and pleasant aroma. At the same time, synthetic materials tend to have more chemical or artificial scents. Likewise, real leather tends to feel supple, soft, and silky to the touch, while faux leather often feels prickly or rough. 

Another common indicator is texture: genuine leather will generally be uniformly textured across its surface area, whereas other materials may have patches of varying textures due to minute inconsistencies in density or thickness. Finally, you can check for branding marks or labels indicating whether a material is made from premium hides or synthetic polymers.

Final Thoughts

Real leather has a unique smell that is immediately recognizable. Fake leather may smell like plastic or chemicals, but it does not have the same rich, natural aroma as true leather. Real leather also feels softer when touched and tends to mold your body more easily. 

While synthetic materials may appear shiny or smooth at first glance, they will quickly lose their sheen over time and become stiff or brittle with use. In contrast, real leather only gets better with age and frequent use. If you want a quality product made from high-end materials, you should always opt for real leather whenever possible, like the ones on our site.​

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