Real or Not Real? How to Tell Genuine and Faux Leather Apart

Nubuck, Microsuede, SuedePlenty of us have made this mistake; you spend an eternity searching for the perfect leather sofa, or shoes, or jacket. You pay way more than you originally planned to because it’s exactly what you were looking for. You take it home and try it out, but when you examine it a little more closely you discover it’s not genuine leather after all. Far from it – and you paid above and beyond what you should have.

The thing is, manufacturing technology has advanced so much that to the untrained eye it’s almost impossible to tell faux leather and real leather apart. And as always, there are plenty of dishonest people out there who deliberately hoodwink their customers. Luckily both genuine and faux leather have some telltale signs that reveal their true identity. Look out for the following.

  • Price: If you’re dealing with a reputable retailer, then there will be significant difference between the price of a genuine leather sofa and a faux leather one. For obvious reasons, genuine leather is the more expensive of the two. It’s also more luxurious and more prestigious, so retailers will usually make it very clear that you’re buying a genuine leather product by placing large tags, usiFeatured imageng obvious labelling and so on.
  • Smell: Genuine leather has a distinctive scent. If you can, discreetly give your sofa (or shoes or jacket) a quick sniff – nobody will think less of you, we promise! If you smell nothing, you have faux leather in your hands. Although the genuine leather scent does fade over time, this shouldn’t be the case when it’s still in the store. If it smells of plastic then it’s absolutely faux leather.
  • Feel: This one can be a little trickier to get a handle on since there’s so much convincing faux leather around these days. Genuine leather tends to be softer and has a more ‘velvety’ feel than faux leather.  One of the most telltale signs is texture; since it’s an organic product, genuine leather retains all of the characteristics that the animal picked up during its lifetime. So you’ll see the remains of pock marks, old scratches and bites. The texture of faux leather will be more consistent, more smooth, and usually won’t wrinkle if you pinch or press on it. 
  • Ageing: Again because of its organic nature, genuine leather develops a unique ‘lived in’ look (known as a ‘patina’) over time. Faux leather on the other hand will stay the same, unless it’s exposed to sunlight. In that case, the material’s pigment will fade and in extreme cases, may even crack. While genuine leather is also prone to fading and is more likely to pick up small scratches and scuffs, it’s the more durable of the two overall.
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