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Faux Leather vs. Real Leather

Posted by Brit Ellerman on

Leather is a perfect material for making long-lasting products, whether it’s an accessory or a piece of furniture. It’s a smooth, clean looking material.

However, there is a big difference between faux (or vegan) leather and genuine leather. Both have similar looks and sometimes feel, but the composition of each is different. This makes the quality and durability of the material different as well.


Faux vs. Real

Faux, or vegan, leather is not made from bovine hides, like traditional leather. Depending on the type of faux leather, it is made from a variety of different materials. Fake leather types include bonded, pleather (PU), PVC leather and more. 

Each of these different types has a different material for a base and a different solution to finish it. Typically, the solution that is used to finish it is meant to imitate the look of leather. Fake leather is also dyed to provide different color options.

Fake leather

Real, or genuine, leather is made from hides, typically bovine, or cows. However, other types of hides can be used to make leather like ox, buffalo and more. This type of leather is tanned and cured to produce a tough material. 

Real leather has the same base, which is the hide. But each piece of leather can look different because of the natural pattern that stretch marks, veins and other scars cause from the animal. There is not a need to add a solution to finish it out because it already has a unique leather look and feel.

At the fundamental level, the biggest difference between faux leather and real leather is that one is not from animal hide, while the other is purely animal hide.


How it’s Made

As stated before, real and fake leather are different from each other. A lot that has to do with how each of them is made or crafted.

Faux leather is typically a compound of different materials. PU (pleather) is a base material like polyester, nylon, cotton or rayon. Then it’s laminated with a 100% polyurethane solution to finish the material. This is applied with a roller that has an artificial grain pattern on it to give the finished material a traditional leather look. 

Similar to that, PVC fake leather is a build up of different materials like polyvinyl chloride with stabilizers, plasticizers and lubricants. All of these help make the material softer and more flexible, but also protected. This is all applied to a base material like cotton, polyester, etc.

To make real leather, an animal hide is needed. The animal hide is first salted so that it does not decompose. If there are hairs on the hide, they will need to be removed. Then it is tanned, either vegetable tanning agents or chromium salt mix. This process fully cures the leather and gives it the elasticity to be durable yet flexible.

The processes to make both fake and real leather are quite lengthy and require several materials. However, real leather is just one material while fake leather is usually multiple materials that don’t include an animal hide.


Benefits

Each kind of leather has its benefits. A lot of these depend on what the leather will be used for, however.

The biggest benefit of fake leather is the cost. Being that the leather is easily mass produced because there is no necessity of an animal, it is cheaper to produce. Thus making it cheaper to buy. Faux leather is used for a variety of purposes including accessories and furniture. These products are typically cheaper than real leather goods.

Real leather is much more durable and lasts longer because of the fibrous nature of the material. It also has a much more natural appearance because of the unique scarring of each animal. 


Downside

Just like each type of leather has benefits, each has downsides or disadvantages. 

Faux leather is made of a compound of materials and is therefore less durable. It does not last as long as real leather because the compound breaks down faster. Also, the chemicals used to make faux leather are highly toxic to the environment and don’t decompose easily. Making it a concern for the environment.

The tanning process for making real leather can also include highly toxic chemicals and substances. Again, making it a concern for the environment. In addition, it does require the hide of an animal, therefore, an animal must die. Typically, the animals are not slaughtered just for leather purposes, but rather, the hide is used to prevent waste. An animal is slaughtered typically for meat, so using the hide for leather is a way to use the whole animal versus just a part of it.

Why We Use Real Leather

Because of the durability and rareness of real, genuine leather, Texas Saddlery chooses to make its products from real leather. Having real leather goods is a preference, but it is a preference in high demand right now. So, Texas Saddlery offers high quality, genuine leather goods for those searching for that just-right leather accessory.

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