There are many classic and trendy bags launched by top bag brands, which always attract many bag fans rushing to purchase it. Profits leads to the existence of faux leather bag.
When you can afford to buy a real leather bag, do you know how to differentiate real and faux leather?
How do you know if the bag in your hands is indeed a genuine leather bag instead of a close imitation.
Here are some tips to help you distinguish real and faux leather. Before introducing those tips for you, we need to know what real leather and faux leather is and the difference between them.
What real leather and faux leather is?
Real leather can also be known as full-grain leather, which is going to be the highest grade of leather you can find. Full-grain leather is the top layer of the animal hide that has natural imperfections.
Because of its thickness, real leather can be hard for manufacturers to work with but will be the most durable.
Faux leather is also known as polyurethane leather, or PU leather. It is an artificial leather made of thermoplastic polymer.
One hundred percent PU leather will be completely vegan, unlike some types of faux leather, called bicast leather, that have actual leather.
Bicast leather takes the fibrous part of cowhide leftover from manufacturing real leather and adds a layer of polyurethane on top.
After knowing what is real leather and faux leather, we will list the difference between them so that you can have a better understanding about these two leather.
What is the different between leather and faux leather?
The cost will be one of the main differences when comparing these three types of leather. Real leather is going to be the most expensive because it is made up of real leather that is hard to manufacture. Faux leather is cheaper than real leather, but will cost a little more than bonded leather.
Faux leather is easier to manufacture compared to real leather. Bonded leather is the cheapest of all leathers because it’s the thinnest, made up of scrap leather and adhered to a thin paper backing.
Real leather is going to have great durability over time because it won’t crack or peel. Instead of wearing out, real leather will develop a patina on its natural surface.
Faux leather, or PU leather, is not going to be as durable as real leather, but it will be more durable compared to bonded leather. PU leather isn’t breathable and it can easily puncture and crack over time. PU leather can be resistant to stains and is fade resistant, unlike bonded leather.
Because bonded leather is made of scrap leather and polyurethane mixed, and adhered to a paper backing, it is much like paper and can easily scratch, peel, or flake off over time. Bonded leather has a short lifespan and the color can fade in the sunlight.
Appearances & Texture Differences
Real leather will have the most natural appearance, though it is limited in color options and will have an inconsistent texture. Real leather has a smooth, soft texture unlike artificial leathers. PU leather has a consistent texture in appearance, though it can sometimes look fake and synthetic.
PU leather will be the closest in appearance to real leather and may even look and feel like real leather in some instances. Bonded leather will be easiest to spot because it will look the most synthetic and is thinner than most faux and real leathers.
Bonded leather and PU leather can come in various colors and styles, while genuine leather does not.
Real leather can be a turn off to some consumers since it is not a vegan material. Real leather tends to be difficult to manufacture and costs more to make.
PU leather may use fewer resources to produce, but the plastics do not decompose and aren’t eco-friendly. However, if you are looking for a vegan leather, 100 percent PU leather is a great option.
Bonded leather could be considered sustainable because it uses the scraps and fibers leftover from making real leather, but over time, it can release some of the chemicals used during the manufacturing process.
Bonded leather is not a vegan product because it can contain between 10 to 20 percent real leather.
Care & Cleaning Differences
Because it is naturally absorbent, real leather can easily absorb liquid, which can make it susceptible to staining and difficult to clean.
Real leather will need to be treated twice a year to keep it soft and prevent it from drying out. Stay away from abrasive cleaners when caring for real leather.
PU leather is going to be the easiest to clean because it doesn’t absorb liquids. With proper care of your PU leather, you will get longer use out it.
Bonded leather is going to be difficult to clean. Bonded leather cannot be cleaned with any abrasive cleaners or cloths because the surface can wear away, crack, and peel.
Although smell is subjective, many people don’t like the smell of artificial leathers. PU leather will have a distinct smell of either plastic or chemicals.
Bonded leather on the other hand can also have an artificial smell, but with its added leather, may smell more like real leather. Real leather will have a natural smell that will not smell artificial.
These are the main difference between real and faux leather. You might have already had a general idea about real and faux leather bag, and below are some useful tips to help you to distinguish real and faux leather.
Tips to help you to distinguish real and faux leather
Check the Label
This may be one of the first things that you should do when trying to buy leather. It may seem obvious but it actually helps. Leather manufacturers take pride in what they produce.
Therefore, it is only right to tag or label their products as real leather. If the label says “100% leather” or “full-grain/top-grain leather” or “genuine leather” then you are on the right track.
Fake leathers also have labels and tags on them. Some may truthfully say that it is made with synthetic materials. If you see “man-made material” on the label it is a sign that it is fake leather.
Just a reminder however that checking the label will guarantee that the leather is 100% real. This is because companies like to mislead their consumers.
Some might have labels such as “made with genuine leather” but are not purely real leather. Therefore, while check the label is a good practice it is sometimes not enough.
Check the Price Tags
Check the price. While everybody loves a good deal, sometimes they are too good to be true. Of course real leather is much more expensive than faux leather.
Be Intimate with the Leather
Another way of telling real leather from fake leather is by using your basic senses. While the goal of faux leather is to imitate real leather the best they can there are still things it cannot copy.
Look At the Leather
Sometimes telling them apart is obvious especially by just looking at it. If you look close enough you will see the difference between real leather and fake leather.
For real leather, you will notice that its surface structure is not completely uniform. It will often have scars, blemishes, and other imperfections.
This is because it is made of animal skin. And they say that no animal skin is exactly the same.
Fake leather on the other hand will have a uniform surface. This is because it is made from a machine. You will notice that fake leather will have a uniform texture pattern.
It can sometimes be deceiving therefore you should also rely on your other senses to help you tell real leather from fake.
Imperfections, in leather, are actually a good thing. Remember, real leather is made from animal skin, and thus each piece is as random and unique as the animal it came from.
Very regular, even, and similar grains often indicate a machine-made piece.
Real leather might have scratches, creases, and wrinkles — this is a good thing!
Note that, as manufacturers get more skilled, their designs are better mimicking real leather. This makes buying online, where you only have a picture, very difficult to do.
Touch the Leather
While faux leather tries to feel as similar to real leather you can still tell them apart. Real leather is an organic natural material. Therefore it will not be as smooth as you think.
If you notice, real leather is like your skin. Thus it will definitely stretch and have wrinkles on it. Press into the leather, looking for creases and wrinkles.
Real leather will wrinkle under the tough, just like real skin. Synthetic materials usually just depress down under your finger, retaining rigidity and shape.
This is important because sometimes faux leather will give off that wrinkly and rugged look which can sometimes be deceiving. Better confirm the wrinkles by feeling them.
Smell the Leather
Smell the leather, searching for a natural, musty smell instead of plastic-like or chemical-y. If you’re completely unsure of the smell you’re looking for, head into a store that you know sells genuine leather and test out a few bags and shoes.
Ask if they have any synthetic pieces and smell those as well. Once you know what you’re looking for, the smell differences will be unmistakable.
Remember, leather is just worked animal skin. Faux leather is made of plastic. It seems obvious, but real leather will smell like skin and fake will smell like plastic.
Faux leather will most likely smell like plastic. This is because it is made of synthetic materials such as PVC. If you smell plastic or a chemical odor coming from the leather then it probably is fake.
Real leather on the other hand will have a distinct “leathery” smell. Since it is organic it will definitely not smell like plastic.
Note the Edges
Note the edges, as real leather has rough edges where faux has even, perfect edges. Machine made leather looks machine cut.
Real leather is made of many strands, which naturally fray around the edges. Faux leather made from plastic has no such strands, meaning the edges are cleanly cut.
Bend the Leather
Bend the leather, looking for it to change color slightly in real leather. Similar to the “wrinkle test,” real leather has a unique elasticity when bent, changing color and wrinkling up naturally.
Faux leather is much more rigid and regular, and will usually be difficult to bend by comparison.
Test the Leather with Water
Depending on the finishing process, real leather can have water repellent properties. Most leather will absorb some amount of water, just like a real cow.
Almost all synthetic materials will repel water instantly.
Test the Fake Leather with Fire
For obvious reasons, this test is not recommended on a product you have not purchased… Obviously, you’ll be destroying part of the material.
However, if you own the product (and are seriously curious) and can find an inconspicuous interior seam, hold a lighter’s flame on a small piece of the material.
If the leather chars and smell like burnt hair, it’s leather. If the product catches fire or melts, it’s synthetic (fake leather).
You may have damaged your bag, but now you know … Such are the consequences of testing a fake leather bag. And, now you know why cows don’t burst into flames.
Hope you can find these tips helpful to you when you buy real leather bag. And sometimes the sixth sense is also one of the most useful methods!