5 Steps to identify Synthetic Leather

5 Steps to identify Synthetic Leather

Commercially speaking, leatherwork has been divided in two different groups: natural leather and synthetic leather or leatherette. Synthetic leather or leatherette is a polymer-based material designed to have the same look, texture and color as natural leather. It is also known as ecological leather because it does not come from an animal origin. However, the industrial processes and chemicals used to obtain synthetic leather are not exactly environmental-friendly solutions. 


But, how can we verify if the product we have just bought is natural leather or synthetic leather?

 1.Texture and elasticity

 In the case of natural leather, the surface is soft and flat. The external layer has a characteristic porosity, whether the internal layer of the product has little fluffy pieces or suede/chamois fabric. This is a feature impossible to replicate in synthetic leather products. 

Synthetic leather is rigid and always harder to the touch. You can check the elasticity of natural leather pressing the surface with your fingers and paying attention if there are any wrinkles, little but noticeable, which disappear as fast as they appeared. This only happens with natural leather. 


Natural leather lambskin


2. Smell 

Another sensitive aspect is the product’s smell. Synthetic leather smells like plastic, but a natural leather product gives off a special smell. It is caused for vegetable tanning process. Although it is not easy to identify what it is exactly, you can smell it quickly.


Natural cow skin

 3. Finish 

The products’ finishes are essential when trying to know if it is natural leather. The traditional way of working the leather is by hand, and this is very important to assess the quality of a product. The precision and perfection in details like the corners; strong and accurate seams; the quality of internal linings, labels and zips... These are features of natural leather products.


 One of the main differences between natural leather and synthetic leather is the price. Any product made of natural leather will always be more expensive than any synthetic leather one. From the investment in the acquisition of the raw materials until the final result of the manufactured product, the cost is much higher with natural leather.


Despite this is the most compelling proof, it is not recommendable because exposing the product to the fire for more than five seconds could result in a loss of humidity and oils which will be very difficult to restore.

Nevertheless, if we move a flame close to a natural leather product, it will not deform or get burnt. It might contract or harden a little bit by the heat due to the evaporation of the humidity and the oils, but it will return to its original state when it gets cold. Sometimes it gives off a smell similar to burnt hair. 

If we try to do the same with synthetic leather, it will melt down and smell like burnt plastic.


We hope this article helps you to distinguish a natural leather product from a synthetic leather one... without resorting to fire! ;)



Synthetic leather bag 


Natural Leather bag

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