How to Tell Real Leather from Fake Leather

You probably can't tell the difference if you have not been buying a lot of them. Here's how.

How To Tell Real Leather From Fake Leather How To Tell Real Leather From Fake Leather

A leather good’s price tag and a “Genuine Leather” label may be able to tell you the answer most of the time, but if you have not been buying a lot of leather goods, you probably can’t tell the difference between a “plastic” product and a real animal skin.

I couldn’t really tell until I found out these tips that gave me more ideas.

When I first dabbled with leathers, I thought the word “Genuine Leather” means I’ve just bought the topmost quality leather in the world. In fact, they are not the best grade available in the industry.

In leather manufacturing, the best grade is Full Grain leather, followed by Top Grain leather,  and then the Genuine Leather and finally the lowest graded Bonded Leather. (Genuine Leather has been the most popular in the mass market due to several reasons. We’ll leave it for another post in the future.)

If you’re planning to invest on a leather bag from a relatively unknown label who claims to use “genuine” leather despite its really affordable price tag, try these tips to test its authenticity before going to the experts:

Real Leather Doesn’t Smell Like Plastic

Real leather is made of real animal skin – and so it should smell like a skin.

It may be scented or scentless, but it should never smell like a plastic bag. “Because it’s a new bag” is not a reason.

Real Leather “looks” like Skin

Fake Vs Genuine Leather How To Tell Real Leather From Fake Leather

Faux leather vs Genuine Leather

Look carefully at the leather’s surface. If you see uneven pattern on the leather, it’s most likely a real leather because real skin is not perfect.

Real skin comes with creases and scratches. Its pattern and texture shouldn’t look “perfect” and identical across the surface like the floor tiles. The texture should be unique.

HOWEVER, technology has advanced so much these days. Even the “fake” looks really really “real” sometimes. As a rule of thumb, this tip shouldn’t be the only defining factor.

Real Leather “feels” like Skin

Touch and feel the leather with your fingers. The leather should feel soft, smooth and natural. Regardless of the texture, you shouldn’t feel “bumpy” and “rough” at all.

Real Leather Wrinkles

Try to press or pinch the leather. Real leather should wrinkle and the texture should look “pulled” when you put a dent on it. Fake leather should be less flexible, and you’d probably notice the texture is hardly affected by your pressure.

Botox-injected faces won’t wrinkle naturally when they smile.

Genuine Leather Wrinkles Test How To Tell Real Leather From Fake Leather

Wrinkles appear when pressed = Genuine Leather

Faux Leather Wrinkle Test How To Tell Real Leather From Fake Leather

No wrinkle = Faux Leather

Real Leather Doesn’t Crack Easily

Like the wenis on your elbows, or the skin covering your body joints, it won’t crack after you’ve done 50 sets of weight-lifting at the gym.

Although the leather won’t be as elastic as when they’re still alive, if a leather shows sign of cracking after you bent it repetitively, most probably it’s not a genuine leather.

Under proper care and normal condition (you know what they say about the direct sunlight,) a genuine leather will not crack or peel.

Real Leather Doesn’t Catch Fire Easily

Because plastic catch fire easily (plastic are made of petroleum.)

A genuine leather won’t immediately engulfed in flames when you set it on fire. In fact, genuine leather has high resistance to fire, and it won’t melt like a plastic.

You can’t burn it – you can only char it. (Well, we don’t suggest you to test with a lighter in the store though.)

As you can’t smell or touch through your computer screen here, let’s just run a quick test by using our visual examination:

Can you tell which one below are genuine?

Fake Vs Genuine Leather Samples How To Tell Real Leather From Fake Leather

No. We can’t. Not without touching.

(That’s why buying leather goods online is a little tricky sometimes.)