How To Differentiate Between Synthetic & Real Leather:

Author: Amin Tabibzada
Publish Date: September 3, 2021

If you are a leather lover, and love to wear products that are made of genuine leather but don’t know how to identify it as real leather or synthetic, then you are in the right place. In this article, you will learn how to differentiate between different types of leather, identifying synthetic leather products against real leather products. If you look but don’t mind it if it is real or synthetic leather products, we have got something for you all!

At some stage in life, we have all had doubts about whether a leather product we want to wear is real or synthetic leather. It takes a little time and energy to learn the tricks. Real leather belt bring up your personality so why should you compromise quality?

What is genuine leather?

Genuine leather as the name suggests, comes from animal skin, it is real, not synthetic and it is long lasting and keeps you warmer in winter. The problem with synthetic leather is that, although real, it is one of the worst quality leathers in the market. We will tell you why in a moment.

Genuine leather is composed of different layers of leather but once the higher quality ones have been removed. In short, what we are left with is the weakest part of the leather. That is when synthetic leather takes place. It is not as long lasting, as warm but looks good.

The different qualities of leather that we can find are the following:

Full grain leather The Best Part Of Leather

This is the highest and best quality leather you can get out of animal skin, the most resistant and thickest, that could potentially last for a very long time, yet it is the most economically valuable. It is composed of hides that have not gone through any polishing process and therefore it may have natural marks of the animal’s coat.

Top grain leather

This layer of leather is actually altered. It is the result of sanding and polishing the whole leather to make it more malleable and fine and can easily be shaped into products. Then, the impurities are removed from the animal’s skin, giving it a cooler and silkier finish. It is used in high class products, designer fashion leather products and more.

Corrected grain leather

This is a totally different type of leather, not yet explained in the above two types.

The quality has yet again declined because of further sanding and correcting the faults on the skin, and making it more shinier and perfect to the naked eye. And finally an artificial pattern is applied to this part of leather.

Split Leather

This layer of leather is the result of separating the weaker layers from the complex grain leather that was explained above. It is one of the finest and most delicate leather for fine products, so it is not very long lasting yet extremely attractive.

Reconstructed leather

This type of leather is not leather layers but it is made up of leather particles that are not used in the manufacture of any product, mixed with artificial fibres from latex or polyurethane, glue and other ingredients to hold it together. The result has a great leather appearance but not a real leather layer.

What is synthetic leather or PU leather?

Synthetic leather is a common substitute to real leather and it is also known as artificial leather, leatherette or PU leather. Synthetic leather is used to make clothing, footwear, upholstery and fabrics, hats, furniture and more. This makes the cost of synthetic leather much lower than that of real leather.

This type of leather comes from natural fibers and has many possibilities in terms of colors, textures and shine, shaping, versatility and uses.

Tips to differentiate if an item is genuine leather or synthetic leather

These tips will be very helpful, when you go shopping for real leather products, genuine leather belts, leather wallets, leather jackets etc.

Pay attention to details and enjoy leather products like never before.

The Feel and Touch

If you get confused looking at a product, always touch and feel it. If it feels right, it doesn’t feel fake, then it is leather, touch is not deceiving, that is a tip.

The moment you touch and feel real leather products, you will notice the softness, smoothness and flexibility. Whereas, synthetic leather is much more rough and cold. Genuine leather feels warm, natural and realistic like real leather belt.

There is more elasticity to real leather, so when you put pressure on it, you can see obvious wrinkles, which is a great characteristic of real leather. This characteristic may not be present in synthetic leather, it remains rough, rigid when pressured.

Turning the leather product inside out is another trick to identify genuine leather. In case, lint is created on the reverse side, it means that you have a real piece of leather in your hand. Scratching the back of a garment or piece with your fingernail is another way to identify the genuinity of the leather. If particles start to come off, you are dealing with an authentic leather product.

The roughness of the edges of genuine leather is another way to test the quality. Unlike synthetic leather, which tends to have perfect edges, genuine leather tends to fray at the edges, because it is composed of filaments.

Water is another possible way to test the quality of real leather. Simply throw water on the leather product. Real leather absorbs the water with no hassle and quickly, whereas the opposite applies to artificial leather products, floating water on it.

The Smell

One of the oldest techniques to test leather is its real leather smell.

If the garment smells natural and musty, then it is genuine leather. It may vary depending on the type of leather, but the smell of real leather cannot be faked. The smell of a leather shoe may vary from a jacket or a belt, always remember the authentic smell of leather.

On the other hand, if the product smells like plastic or chemicals, then you got synthetic leather in your hands.

If you are not sure about the smell of genuine leather, you can always go to a specialised leather store and give it a try.

The Fire Test

This is one of the best methods!

The most genuine way to find out if you are holding genuine or synthetic leather is to test it on fire.

It is advised to hold the flame for 5 to 10 seconds over the product to be tested. In the case of genuine leather, it will contract and become lightly carbonated. In the case of artificial leather however, the product will begin to deform itself to the point of burning. Best of all, it smells like burning plastic, chemicals.

Finally, look into the quality and price of the product as well. Genuine leather is more expensive, nicer to feel and touch, softer, warmer and feels good quality, smells nicer. It is that real leather belt or jacket that authenticate your personality.

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