Imagine you’ve just bought a beautiful leather bag and you can’t wait to flaunt it to the whole world as real leather symbolises class, taste and persona. You carry it proudly to your next outing with friends. While admiring your new acquisition, one of your friends tells you that the bag is not made using genuine leather but using PU. You feel slighted, duped and your whole world comes crumbling down. Fret not, we’re here to help.
The market is flooded with bags which look like genuine leather but are not leather. They are made using a petroleum product called polyurethane or PU. Over the years, marketers have given it easier and more sellable names like leatherette, pleather, faux leather, synthetic leather, vegan leather etc. It looks like a cheaper version of genuine leather and is hard to differentiate.
Whether you buy a genuine leather bag or a PU bag, as a customer, it’s your right to know exactly what you’re buying so you can take the right decision regarding the price and quality of the product.
Here are some major differences between products made using PU and genuine leather:
Surface: Leather is a natural material and hence has an imperfect surface. The surface of a product made using genuine leather has irregular grains on it. However, in order to confuse people, some artificial leather manufacturers create lines and wrinkles similar to genuine leather. So to distinguish between a fake and genuine leather product all you need to do is; bend it. A genuine leather product will form wrinkles while a fake one will remain smooth and will have a plastic feeling.
Smell: Genuine leather products have a peculiar smell, like when you buy a new car with leather seats on it. Fake leather products smell somewhat like plastic. So all you need to do is smell, smell, smell!!!
Water Test: This is another good way of testing whether a product is made using genuine leather or not. A genuine leather product will absorb the water droplet in seconds while the water droplet on a fake leather will just lie there as it is sitting on plastic. This is probably the easiest way to find out if you are buying a fake or a genuine leather product.
Fire Test: Now, we’re not saying that you light a product on fire in a Zara outlet and get arrested. But in the spirit of providing a differentiator test, we’ll just go ahead and tell you. A genuine leather patch will not catch flames but will smell of burning hair whereas a fake leather will catch fire as well as the smell of burning plastic. We suggest that its best you refrain from doing this test.
Price: Genuine leather is usually more expensive than synthetic leather. Besides the novelty value of being a natural material, genuine leather goes through a lot of cleaning and tanning processes before it reaches the final state. This is a lengthy process which requires considerable resources.
Strength: Genuine leather is way stronger than faux leather and hence much more durable.
Leather is among the most counterfeited products across the globe and people usually don’t know how to differentiate between a fake leather product and identify the genuine one, thus they end up paying more for a product made using petroleum derivatives which otherwise has a similar appearance (enough to fool us). There are many companies like Outback, Nappa Dori, Fossil etc which make products using genuine leather and don’t dupe the customer. We hope that you wouldn’t fall in the marketers' trap next time you go out buying a “leather” bag.