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How to Differentiate Between Faux Leather and Genuine Leather

Oops! I did it again! Confusion, distraction, designs; all keep you in a fix, whether or not you have chosen “that right” leather you wanted. To distinguish between real and faux leather isn’t that easy.

To pick up synthetic instead of real leather is a usual fluke we all do. You will spend more moolah when you pick on real leather.

Let’s learn a wise buy for leather!

Real Leather

The authentic leather will be made of animal skin of goats, cattle, sheep and pigs. Broadly leather can be categorized into three distinct types:

  • The Aniline Leather
  • Semi-Aniline Leather
  • Pigmented Leather

And so, when you want to own a leather bag/jacket/gloves/shoes/lalala.. take into account its appearance and the daily/occasional/dates/pass-it-on-generations-way usage.

Aniline Leather

Aniline Leather is very crude, raw and rugged kinda looking leather. To look it natural is its charm. It has natural leather markings. It can get scratches and stains easily. Like our skin does, it has a tendency to fade when exposed to sun for a long duration. Oh wait! It is sun sensitive. Undoubtedly, you got to treat it right once you have it.

Semi-Aniline Leather

It is the leather with a clear finish and a light surface coating of pigment. All that a coating does is to act like a shield to stains and spills without ruining its natural look, also that it keeps the color consistent throughout the leather. It is the best choice when you are looking for something with vintage and distressed look with durability.

Pigmented Leather

This leather is coated with either pigment or a clear layer. These pigments make shine the leather and give a less natural look to it. The leather is pigmented to give it durability and hide the blemishes and ruggedness. It resists stains, wear, fading and is easy to maintain. This pigmented leather is found in furniture and auto upholstery. This looks more like a Faux or PU leather.

Faux Leather

Faux Leather is chemically treated with wax, dye or polyurethane for texture and color and is made of fabric base. PU Leather is the most common type of faux leather, a plastic fabric, lighter, less restrictive leather made to look like leather, comes in many forms, some better some lower in quality. Leatherette and Vegan are other forms of faux leathers.

Let’s spot Faux Leather!

The differences between the faux and real leather is its quality and lasting. They both look way too similar hence make it difficult to find differences. Quick steps to know it is the faux:

Search for the labels

Though common sense, one could identify leather with its label. The companies making real leather would rather boast of it on their labels than hide it. When you find “manmade materials” label, know it isn’t that boastful thing you would want to boast about.

The Story of the Edges!

Any garment or furniture or bag, check for its edges. When a faux, it will look perfect, feel foamy or plastic. Real leather will hence have a rough-edge-look.

Oh! The pores

Examining the pores of the fabric of the leather will tell you what it is.

Inconsistent pores - Real Leather.

Consistent pores - Faux Leather.


Touch the feel

Faux Leather stretches more than the Genuine leather. The feel of the real leather could be coarse, smooth or the in between. Again I repeat, if smooth or feels like plastic it is most likely the fake one. To compare the two, go to a popular leather store in your city. You will master with the feel of leather types available.

Sniff it.

Real leather can be identified with odor that stays. Synthetic material would never smell of the pure leather. The leather will smell of leather- raw and God-made. Get a sniff of the real one, you will never be confused.

Genuine Leather V/s Faux Leather

The pluses of Genuine Leather

The smell, the feel- the pride, prestige and luxury that it carries! Like no skins smell similar, real leather has a natural stink to it. The comfort of leather is felt after it starts to age, as it becomes softer and attractive. Leather is a possession of the rich yet not so hard to maintain, just a regular wipe with a clean moist cloth.

Own the right leather, like you’re hell well high on it!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What's faux leather made of?

Faux Leather or Artificial Leather is a kind of synthetic leather produced from Polyurethane(PU) or Poly-Vinyl Chloride (PVC). Due to the flexibility of these two compounds, they can easily resemble leather, at least on the surface and are generally used in furniture or upholstery and in few cases to make replicas of shoes, handbags etc.

Previous article Comparison - Cowhide vs. Camel Leather


Irene Frey - March 5, 2016

If it is fake it will ‘melt’ if it comes into contact with sunscreen. I had a bag I thought was leather, then carrying it after applying sunscreen it disintegrated within less than an hour. .

Monica George - April 22, 2015

Hi Team,

Great Article. Helped A lot.

Now I know what to do when visit a next leather bag shop. :)

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