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Real Leather Vs Fake Leather: The Battle of Materials

Real Leather Vs Fake Leather: The Battle of Materials

Posted by The Green Tanners on 24th Jun 2024


Leather is the most famous textile in the world. Leather goods are used everywhere, mostly in leather jackets, bags, and other accessories. According to the statistics, the demand for leather is increasing daily. To keep up with the rising needs, manufacturers are developing a much cheaper material than leather. This leads them to create alternative leather, such as fake or faux leather.

In this article, you will learn the difference between real and fake leather. 

What is Real Leather?

First, let’s examine the characteristics of real leather and its meaning. Real leather is derived from animal skins, which are also called grain. Grain is considered a top-quality material due to its stretch, durability and ability to resist water. Over time, due to environmental impacts, real leather develops a great patina. 

There are two main types of real leather: full-grain and top-grain. Full-grain leather is made from the upper grain layer without removing much, except for the hair. On the other hand, top-grain leather is made from grain leather. This process results in a blemish-free colour and a thick texture.

What is Fake Leather?

Fake leather, also known as vegan leather, is not made from animal hides. It is an alternative material used in place of real leather. Unlike vegetable-tanned leather, which comes from animal skin treated with plant-based substances, vegan leather is entirely animal-free. You might hear it called synthetic leather, pleather, artificial leather, or imitation leather.

Depending on the plastic used, there are two kinds of fake leather: polyurethane (PU) leather and polyvinylchloride (PVC) leather. PU leather is soft and durable, suitable for making clothes, shoes, and sports gear like soccer balls. PVC leather is cheaper and tougher, often used in car seats and furniture that endure a lot of wear and tear.

Suggested Reading: What are the key differences between genuine and synthetic leather?

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What is the Difference Between Real Leather and Fake Leather?

The difference between real leather and fake can be defined by the following factors: 

What is More Durable Real Leather or Fake Leather?

Real Leather 

Genuine leather lasts much longer than other materials. The more you use it, the better it looks. With proper care, instead of wearing out like other products, it develops a unique look and quality over time called patina.

Fake Leather 

Faux or fake leather does not last as long as real leather. It requires less care but also wears out quicker. When it starts to wear out, it does not look as good. You can clean faux leather with warm water, soap, and a soft cloth to keep it looking clean and prevent everyday marks from building up.

Environmental Impact of Leather vs Fake Leather

Real Leather  

When Real leather is sourced sustainably from ranches and tanned naturally, it can be less harmful to the environment than most faux (or “vegan”) leathers, except for rare types made from materials like cotton or cork. Most leather comes from cattle raised for beef and milk, so using their hides is not wasteful since they were already used for other purposes.

Faux/Fake Leather

Most faux leather is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane. If you only consider the impact of using animal skin, faux leather has a smaller impact than real leather. However, the chemicals used in making faux leather are bad for the environment and affect everyone, including animals. Faux leather products also wear out quicker and need replacing more often than real leather, which adds to the environmental impact. Real leather items can last decades, while faux leather usually lasts only a few years.

Differences based on Appearance, Texture, and Smell 

Real Leather 

The appearance, texture, and smell of real leather are different from those of faux or bonded leather. Real leather has a natural look with unique imperfections that make each piece special. It also feels very smooth and soft.

Faux/Fake Leather 

When you ask, "What is fake leather made of?" It makes sense that it can not perfectly imitate the look and feel of natural leather. The plastic used to make PU leather can get close, but it does not match exactly. However, PU leather offers more colour options. 

The smell of faux leather is also different from real leather. PVC leather smells like plastic, while real leather has a natural and pleasant scent.

Final Word After a comprehensive analysis, you learn the difference between real and fake leather. Now, you can make the best choice according to your needs and requirements. Think twice before you decide to buy leather goods.

Final Word

After a comprehensive analysis, you learn the difference between real and fake leather. Now, you can make the best choice according to your needs and requirements. Think twice before you decide to buy leather goods.


Is Fake Leather better than Real Leather? 

There are good and bad points to think about when comparing PVC leather (fake leather) with real animal leather. Fake leather is resistant to stains and fading and comes in more colors, but it does not feel as unique or last as long as real leather.

Does Fake Leather last longer than Real Leather? 

No, fake leather products do not last long as compared to the real leather goods. With the passage of time, fake leather can start to break down or crack. 

What are the Disadvantages of Fake Leather? 

Compared to animal leather, fake leather has a few downsides. For instance, it is not as strong, hypoallergenic, or breathable as real leather. Also, making fake leather creates more environmental waste than producing real leather goods.