Updated: Apr 15, 2019
Leather articles have always had a widespread popularity due to their toughness and ability to withstand any weather. Unlike other materials that wear out comparatively faster, it is durable. Leather articles definitely stand out from all other fibers and the reason is obviously due to their rich, elegant, natural finish and unique texture. Leather has many artificial substitutes, and usually involves applying polyurethane or vinyl coating to a cloth backing. A popular name for such artificial substitutes is plastic leather, alias pleather.
These materials look much similar to pure leather, but do not reach the durability standard that the same has. Accessories like wallets, purse, bags and leather jackets are extremely popular. These leather accessories are replaced with faux leather items and sold at a cheaper price in the market. Hence the question, how to identify genuine leather from fake leather?
The difference between real leather and faux leather and how to spot it:
1. Texture and life span: Real leather has a soft yet strong texture, making it harder to wear out. On the contrary, faux leather has less than half of the life span of real leather. The surface of the fabric of faux leather cracks and peels off and gets much uncomfortable with time. The texture of real leather feels coarse or smooth, depending upon the quality and grade. If the product feels too smooth or like plastic, it is most probably faux leather.
2. Smell the leather: The smell of the leather is a precise way of testing its authenticity. Genuine, real leather has a distinct smell that cannot be replicated by synthetic leather. Faux leather often smells like plastic or rubber.
3. Check the pores: Genuine leather is very porous and absorbs the smallest drops of liquid instantaneously. It has a random pattern of pores because it is natural. Faux leather, on the other hand, has a consistent repeating pattern. It is comparatively less absorbent than real leather.
4. The flame test: Although we do not recommend you to buy a leather article only to burn it or try to burn a leather bag on display, the flame test is a popular way of testing leather. If a lighter or matchstick flame is held over genuine leather, it will resist to burning until a certain limit. If the leather’s resistance to burning fails, the leather burns without a flame and emits an odour similar to the odour of flesh burning. On the contrary, faux leather will instantly catch fire and smell like burning plastic.
While the tests mentioned above are home based, there are other laboratory based tests that are more accurate, which contribute to a better production control of leather.
While both real leather and faux leather has its advantages and disadvantages, real leather ends up looking more sophisticated and elegant than faux leather. It has a unique look and style, and definitely suits on anything you wear.