Leather Manual

Faux Leather or Real Leather: Which One Is Better?

faux leather or real leather

Faux Leather or Real Leather:

If you’re looking for a new leather product, you may wonder whether to go for faux leather or real leather. It’s a common dilemma, and many factors must be considered before deciding. Since ancient times, leather has been a utilized material for various goods. But as synthetic fabrics have grown in popularity, imitation leather has become more accessible. What distinguishes genuine leather from imitation leather, and which is superior? To assist you in making an educated choice, we’ll examine each material’s properties in this blog article.


Faux leather is a synthetic material made to imitate the appearance and texture of real leather. It is also known as vegan leather or artificial leather. Unlike real leather, which comes from animal hide, faux leather uses various materials, such as polyurethane (PU). Faux leather has become popular due to its cruelty-free production process. The unique textures and durability of distressed and exotic leather make them unique.


Two primary methods of constructing faux leather are polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PU leather involves applying a polyurethane finish over a base material. PVC production is similar but takes extra steps to form the top layer before application. One of the benefits of faux leather is its affordability compared to genuine leather. It’s also more water-resistant than real leather, making it a good choice for moisture-sensitive items. There are generally three leather grades of faux leather, each with varying degrees of quality and durability. These grades are often determined by the materials used in their construction.

1: Economy Grade Faux Leather:

Economy-grade faux leather is the most basic and least expensive synthetic leather. It is made with low-quality materials and is less durable than higher grades of faux leather. Economy-grade faux leather may feel stiff and plastic-like and is prone to cracking and peeling over time. This faux leather type is used in low-cost fashion items and lower-end furniture.

2: Mid-Grade Faux Leather:

Mid-grade faux leather is a step up from economy grade and offers higher quality and durability. It is often made with a higher percentage of PU or PVC and may be treated with extra finishing techniques to enhance its appearance and feel. Mid-grade faux leather is generally softer and more flexible. It is used in mid-range fashion items and home furnishings.

3: Premium Grade Faux Leather:

Premium grade faux leather is the highest quality synthetic leather available. It contains the highest percentage of PU or PVC and may incorporate natural materials. Premium-grade faux leather is often treated with advanced finishing techniques such as embossing. It is used in high-end fashion items, luxury home furnishings, and automotive interiors.


Real leather has made it a popular material in the fashion and furniture industries. It’s also used to manufacture automotive upholstery, footwear, and accessories. Leather is obtained by removing the hair and flesh from animal hides and then treating the remaining skin with a tanning process. This process involves soaking the skin in chemicals that help preserve and strengthen it. The tanning process can vary, depending on the leather being produced, and can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks. The quality of real leather can vary depending on several factors, including the type of animal it came from and the tanning process used. High-quality leather is often more expensive but is more durable and long-lasting. Leather enthusiasts value the beautiful patina that real leather acquires over time. It is a characteristic unique to cowhide leather. Real leather cannot replicate the unique aging process of synthetic materials such as microfiber.

What are the main Grades of Leather?

Leather is a popular material for producing various goods, including clothing and leather jackets. It is known for its durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal. Yet not all leather is created equal, and different grades of leather vary in quality, texture, and price.

Here are the grades of leather:

  • Full-grain leather: This is the highest quality of leather available. It is made from the top layer of the hide and retains all the natural characteristics of the animal’s skin, including its grain and texture. Full-grain leather is strong, durable, and ages over time, developing a patina unique to each piece. It is also the most expensive type of leather due to its high quality and limited availability.
  • Top-grain leather: This grade is also made from the hide’s top layer but sanded down to remove imperfections. This process creates a smoother surface and a more uniform appearance than full-grain leather. Top-grain leather is still durable and robust but is less natural-looking than full-grain leather. It is more affordable than full-grain leather but still considered high-quality leather.
  • Split leather: Split leather is made from the lower layers of the hide and is less durable and expensive. It is also known as suede or nubuck leather. Split leather is softer and more pliable than full-grain and top-grain leather. But it is less resistant to wear and tear than higher-grade leather and may need more maintenance.
  • Bonded leather: Bonded leather is not considered valid. It is made from shredded leather scraps bonded with a polyurethane coating. It is the lowest quality leather and is less durable and long-lasting than the other grades. Bonded leather is often used in furniture upholstery and is more affordable than genuine leather.

How to Distinguish Real Leather From Artificial Leather?

Leather has been used for thousands of years and is a popular material for clothing, accessories, and furniture. But with the rise of synthetic materials, it can be challenging to distinguish real leather from artificial leather. Identifying real leather can help you make more informed purchasing decisions.

  • Check the Label: The first step in identifying real leather is to check the label. Most products made from genuine leather will have a label indicating that it is real leather. The title may say “genuine leather,” “full-grain leather,” or “top-grain leather.” If the label does not state that the product is made from real leather, it may be synthetic.
  • Look for Imperfections: Real leather has natural imperfections, such as scars, wrinkles, and pores. These imperfections are a sign of the authenticity of the leather and are not present in synthetic materials. You can examine the leather to see if it has any natural imperfections.
  • Smell the Leather: Real leather has a distinct smell that synthetic materials do not have. This smell is often described as earthy, musky, or leathery. The product may be artificial if it has no scent or a chemical smell.
  • Check the Texture: Real leather has a unique texture not present in synthetic materials. You can feel the surface of the leather by running your hand over it. Real leather feels rough and uneven, while synthetic materials feel smooth and uniform.
  • Conduct the Burn Test: Conducting a burn test is one way to determine if a material is real leather. Cut a small piece of the material and burn it with a lighter. Real leather curls and turns into ash, while synthetic materials melt and form a hard ball.
  • Check the Price: Real leather is more expensive than synthetic materials, so the price can show the product’s authenticity. But if the price seems too good to be true, it may be synthetic.

Difference Between Real Leather or Faux Leather

When choosing between real and faux, several differences set them apart. First, each material has unique features from cost to durability, appearance, smell, and care.


The cost is one of the most significant differences between real and faux leather. Real leather is a luxury material requiring a complex manufacturing process. It is more expensive than faux leather. So, faux leather is more affordable since it is easier to make.


Real leather is superior to faux leather. It does not peel or crack and develops a unique patina over time, making it more attractive and softer. In contrast, faux leather is less durable than real leather and tends to crack and peel when used roughly. But it can still last for several years.


Real leather has a natural appearance with a porous surface that makes it breathable. It also has natural imperfections and grains, depending on the grade of the leather. Faux leather has a smooth and even surface, and its texture is often embossed to imitate real leather. It is also non-porous and easier to clean, as dirt and moisture do not embed in the pores.


The smell is another distinguishing factor between real and faux leather. Real leather has a distinct, beefy odor from the animal hide. Faux leather, being a synthetic material, is odorless or has an artificial smell, which can be a plastic or chemical scent.


Real leather requires more care and attention when it comes to cleaning. Its absorbent nature means moisture and dirt can embed in the pores, making cleaning harder. But it can be kept in good condition with the right leather cleaner or DIY conditioners. Faux leather is easier to clean due to its smooth surface. Synthetic leather cleaners are available in the market.


Q: Which is better, faux leather or real leather?

A: It depends on your personal preferences and needs. Real leather is generally more durable and long-lasting than faux leather but can also be expensive. Faux leather is often cheaper and easier to care for, but it may have a different look and feel than real leather.

Q: Is faux leather as good as real leather?

A: Faux leather can be an excellent alternative to real leather for those seeking a more affordable or cruelty-free option. But, it is less durable or long-lasting than real leather and may have a different luxurious feel.

Q: Is faux leather eco-friendly?

A: Faux leather can be more eco-friendly than real leather, as it does not need the same resources and energy. It is more used in men’s black leather jackets.

Q: How do you care for faux leather or real leather?

A: Faux leather can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap, while real leather should clean with a leather-specific cleaner.

Q: Can faux leather be repaired?

A: Faux leather can be more challenging to repair than real leather, as it does not have the same structure and may not hold up well over time. Yet a patch or adhesive can sometimes repair small tears or scratches. For example, a professional leatherworker can repair real leather.

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