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June 27, 2019 3 min read

From wallet to purse to the belt to shoes, leather is a widely used material for both men and women’s fashion. Not only that, but leather is also used for sofa and car seats.

The popularity of leather as a material of choice for various goods is easily explainable. Leather is durable, easy to maintain and when it is coated, it is usually stain-proof and waterproof as well. Leather also gives off classy and luxurious feels.

However, genuine leather is expensive, therefore many industries, both in fashion  and furniture, like to compromise the use of genuine leather for the synthetic one

Synthetic leather gives the same appearance and texture as genuine leather but in a much cheaper price, therefore it is quite as popular as leather; although it still can’t offer the same durability and longevity of genuine leather.

Let’s find out the difference between genuine and synthetic leather.

What is Genuine Leather made of?

Genuine leather or simply real leather is made from animal skin, usually cow, sheep or goat. The skin will then undergo a process of preparation, tanning, and crusting.

Sometimes, leather producers also add an additional layer of the coating after the leather is ready, and this process is called finishing.

There are different types of genuine leathers; they are aniline leather, semi-aniline leather, and pigmented leather.

Aniline Leather

Aniline leather is the purest form of leather. It is usually not coated with any substance, so the marking on the surface will look very clear. As a result, aniline leather will be vulnerable to scratch, wetness, stain, and sunlight.

Semi-Aniline Leather

Semi-aniline leather is the next purest form of leather. It has a coating, but only a light one and usually it is for the purpose of protection, rather than decorative. Consequently, semi-aniline leather will show less marking compared to aniline leather, but it will be stronger against scratch, wetness, stain, and sunlight.

Pigmented Leather

Just like its name suggest, pigmented leather has a layer of pigment on its surface. The pigment can be both protective and decorative. When it is the latter, the pigment will give off shiny appearance or even colored. Therefore, it looks a lot less like leather, even if it is. However, pigmented leather will give more durability compared to the other two.

What is Synthetic or Faux Leather made of?

Faux leather or synthetic leather is a leather-like material made from fabric that is treated with dye, wax, or polyurethane. The end result will look a lot like real leather, only without the same quality.

Faux leather is utilized quite a lot to reduce the production cost for other goods that uses leather.

There are different types of faux leather as well, depending on what they are made of. However, there are two kinds of faux leather that are used the most:

PU Leather or Polyurethane Leather

PU leather is made of split leather (the fibrous part of the leather that has been separated from the hide) and polyurethane coating. However, the PU coating will be very thick and the split leather will be completely hidden from the surface. Due to this, PU leather has versatile uses, from clothing to furniture to accessories.

PVC Leather or Polyvinyl Chloride Leather

PVC leather is made from polyvinyl chloride, the same material that is used to make plastic for your plumbing pipes. PVC leather is light, stain-proof and waterproof as well. However, PVC leather is prone to tear compared to another type of leather. When used for clothing material, it is not breathable, so you will feel hot and sticky inside.

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