Leather was part of human civilization for a very long time and with the advent of the industrial revolution, the extraction of leather had become simpler. The traces of leather can be seen in various civilizations like the Greeks, Egyptians, and Indians as well and yet the timelessness is attached with the leather pieces. The demands for leather products have increased substantially. Leather pieces are always in vogue and they will never go out of fashion. Due to increasing demands and social awareness, the adoption of faux leather is also increasing day by day. So, it has become very important to identify and differentiate between natural and synthetic leather.
First of all let’s know about the history of Leather.
History Of Leather
The history of leather making is around 7000 years old. In the practice of leather making fresh skin was extracted and then was sun-dried. The process of tanning with the help of vegetables was introduced by the Egyptians and Hebrews at the time of 400 BCE. Arab saved the art of leather tanning and making in the Middle Ages. In the 15th century, leather making became prevalent in the European region. After the advent of the industrial revolution and mechanization, the process of leather making got faster. Throughout history, leather has always been popular and had various uses. Whether it is used as an apparel for warriors in the battlefield or in modern days as a car seat. Due to its functional uses in different walks of life , leather has never lost its charm.
We will discuss their differences after some time. First, let’s understand what is real and fake leather?
1. Real Leather
The material of this type of leather is natural. Taken from real skin of the animals. Its surface will not be completely uniform and will include blemishes and imperfections. Earlier the process was very lengthy but now it has become way easier.
Real leather is further graded according to its quality and is of 5 main types that are:
This type of leather is procured from the top layer of the hide. The surface is not altered or sanded off which makes the grain intact to the leather. This is the highest quality of leather.
It is considered to be the second-highest grade of leather. To procure this type of leather the top layer is sanded off to get rid of all the imperfections in the top layer. So, it is way smoother than full-grain leather.
It is a leather that is procured from any of the layers of the hide but the catch is it undergoes several treatments so that its surface becomes smooth. These treatments lead to a decrease in the quality of the leather and hence not graded highly. So, that is the reason it is considered the third-highest grade of leather.
Split Grain –
It is leather that is obtained by cutting the lower layers of the hide and not from the top layer. It is extracted from just near to the flesh. Its surface does not have that much density and hence holds no grounds in front of the full grain or top grain leather. Its main feature is that it’s not that thick as compared to others we discussed earlier.
This leather is not extracted; rather these are made from the leftovers of all the other leather shreds and are joined together with the help of latex. So the percentage of the leather may differ in every batch, but it runs around 10- 90 percent. Hence they are not 100 percent real leather in a sense.
Advantages of Real Leather
- Real leather has the best quality that it is very breathable. Hence, it is very susceptible to temperature. It keeps you cozy in the winters and is not very overbearing in the summers.
- Real leather has a lot of longevity. It can last for a long time. Hence the investment in it is one time because of its durability.
- It has a style of ruggedness in it which gives it a very tough look. Due to this a lot of people adopt the style of real leather as it fits fashionably to anyone and acts as a style quotient.
- It has an organic touch to it as it is extracted from natural beings. Thereby the finish of its products is not artificial and more natural.
- Real leather has a lot of solidities and that is why it can resist a lot of pressure. It does not break, puncture as well as tear very easily.
- The smell of real leather is very unique and earthy, which drives many people towards it.
Disadvantages of Real Leather
- The cost of real leather is comparatively high-priced than man-made leather. The charge is related to its authenticity and genuineness.
- It is extracted from living beings. Hence it is not as environmentally cooperative as faux leather.
- For the maintenance of the leather, it requires a ventilated place. The storage area temperature should be around 20-30 degrees. Otherwise, there are chances of leather getting damaged by fungus.
- There are a lot of preventive measures that should be taken to avoid the damage of the leather material. To keep the quality intact of the leather.
The process of extracting real leather is complex and it undergoes various steps before it reaches the customers. The texture of real leather is very unique and gradient. So, that is the reason why it is more expensive than faux leather which is easily available in the market. Now that we have information about natural leather, let’s know more about man-made leather.
2. Faux/ Fake Leather
This leather is known by different names like Artificial leather, leatherette, pleather, vegan leather, and manmade leather. As all of these names suggest it is a man-made or artificial alternative to natural leather. These names also are given according to the uses they have For example Faux leather is specially used to make leather finish sofas, chairs, and headboards of the bed. Now talking about the leatherette that is used in the seat covers of automobiles, especially autos and it is also used in clothing. In similar lines koskin are generally used to make consumer goods.
In faux leather, we see three main families that constitute this leather and are seen largely in the market. These are :
PU Polyurethane –
This type of leather is also known as bi-cast and this leather is coated with a 100 percent polyurethane surface finish. It is inorganic in nature.
This type of leather is of synthetic vinyl material which is made of Polyvinyl Chloride with added plasticizers which add the needed plasticity and flexibility to this type of leather. It is also inorganic in nature.
It is the latest development in the man-made leather industry. As compared to PU and PVC it is an organic material. Hence the process of production is green and friendly to the environment. It is used universally as well.
Advantages Of Man-Made Leather
- The biggest advantage of fake leather is that it is way cheaper than real leather. It is very budget-friendly. So, not much time is given to its purchase. It fits everyone’s pocket.
- The maintenance of man-made leather is not that much. Special care is also not required to keep the leather safe.
- Fake leather does not get stained easily. It is mostly stained proof. Hence no caution is required while dealing with things like dye, ink, etc.
- The surface and finishing of the faux leather are very consistent and good. Like, the real leather surface is very irregular compared to the artificial leather.
Disadvantages of Man-Made Leather
- The material of faux leather is not that porous which seems very heavy when the product is worn on the skin.
- Fake leather is not that long-lasting. After a short period it starts getting worn out . Hence longevity of this type of leather is not very long.
- The material is synthetic hence it acts as environmental waste. The residue acts as an environmental waste, which further acts as pollutants.
- After a while, the man-made leather tears very easily. Hence it cannot be part of your things for a very long time. They need replacement periodically.
Now that we have known what these leather and their major types are. Let’s move on to the major difference between both the leather.
Difference between Real Leather and Fake Leather
1. Making process-
Real leather or natural leather is made from the animal skin or epidermis whereas man-made leather is synthetic and made by using different chemicals, fibers, and polymers. Fake leather is a synthetic imitation of real leather.
2. Appearance –
Natural leather surfaces will be inconsistent due to blemishes, scars, etc of the bovine whereas as far as synthetic leather is concerned its surface will be relatively smooth and the appearance will be consistent.
Real leather is very breathable as compared to man-made leather due to pores present in the real leather. It has a kind of stretch or room for air which is certainly missing the synthetic leather.
4. Time –
In due course of the time the artificial leather ends up cracking, peeling, and even tearing whereas the real leather remains intact and it stands the test of time. It gets worn but doesn’t tear and the time factor adds character to the real leather products.
There is no maintenance related to faux leather, it can be cleaned and maintained easily. But real leather has to be kept very cautiously to increase its durability. Also, it is not stained proof, so special care must be taken to avoid any staining from ink, dye, or anything else.
6. Money Factor-
When comparing both of these leather, the real leather will cost more as compared to the fake leather. This is because of the difference in the quality and durability of both.
The Identification between Real and Fake Leather
With the advent and introduction of all these different kinds of leather, it has become very difficult and tough to differentiate between real and fake leather. But not to worry, there are certain ways and steps which will help you know the difference between the both and make you sort out. Let’s discuss various ways of identifying between real leather and fake leather:
1. Looking at the reverse side:
If you want to distinguish between real and fake leather the easiest way to do this is to check the reverse side or backside of the leather material. The faux leather will have a very artificial look and almost look like a textile. It has a plastic-coated appearance to it.
While the real leather will be fibrous and will be full of textures. The appearance as stated earlier will be rough and have a gradient touch.
2. Check out the pattern:
When we look into the patterns of man-made leather, the upper layer surface pattern seems very mechanical and precise. The pattern is very uniform and there is no disorientation or change. As, it is made in the machines.
On the other hand, the natural leather pattern will have variations as found in the animal skin, there will be uniqueness in the pattern. It is not as precise and perfect as faux leather.
3. By cutting them :
If you want to identify between real and fake leather, you can also identify by cutting them. After cutting, the fake leather will have extremely precise and smoothly cut edges whereas with natural leather you will have some kind of fibers come out. These fibers will be a clear indicator of the complexity of the epidermis layer of the real leather as compared to the fake one. There will not be any fallouts whatsoever in faux leather whereas you will get them in real leather.
4. By smelling them:
When talking about the smell, fake leather generally doesn’t have any smell. They don’t smell like anything. They have a very plasticky smell to them and may smell like a factory. Majorly artificial leather doesnt have any kind of unique or specific smell to it.
While talking about natural leather, it has a very earthy smell to it with a hint of some sweetness. This is the reason why many luxurious car brands prefer real leather to fake leather. It has a smell of richness in it.
5. Deep Breathability:
The next way to find out is to check the breathability level of the leather product. While putting on a fake leather product you will know the weight and the pressure of the product. It will be a little bit uncomfortable, as the material will be stiff. It will have no room to breathe due to its rigid synthetic making. While real products, especially apparel will give you a sense of warmth but at the same time it will not make you feel like you are trapping all the moisture. Real leather could be more beneficial in this regard.
6. Heat Reaction :
Burn test is also another test that is very effective to differentiate.The real leather when burnt will typically smell like burnt hair whereas as far as fake leather is concerned it will smell like burnt plastic after burning. Hence you can distinguish between the two of them by smelling the residue that they will produce.
7. Puncture / Tear test:
Puncture test or tear test is also used to differentiate between real leather and man- made leather. When a faux leather material is punctured, it will tear apart very easily. The material will not resist the puncture.
Whereas if we talk about real leather that is not at all the case as it is rigid. It doesn’t puncture easily. It will take a substantial amount of time to tear away. So, this test can also help us differentiate between real and fake leather.
You now have an in depth knowledge about leather after reading this . You can identify both of them through various tests like the burn test, also by cutting them and checking their tearing ability with the help of puncturing them. If these are the tests that you want to negate then, you have some other ways to identify as well. Like you could smell the product and find out the real one. You can also check the amount of breathability of the product and how you feel it on your skin. Also, you can observe the pattern and its consistency. You have one more method of identification that is, you can check the reverse side of the product to differentiate and determine.
Through all these methods you can easily identify between fake and real leather. If you want to know more about leather, its trends, its uses, etc. Check out the website of Rp Comtrade. The site will give you a lot of information and solve all your doubts. Your next leather purchasing experience will be delightful. You will not feel like you are leaping in the dark . You will have educated consumer purchase.