How Do Faux Leather Fabrics Compare to Real Leather?

Faux leather (also referred to as “leatherette” or “vegan” leather) is often considered as a lower cost alternative to genuine leather. Genuine leather is in high demand and for good reasons. Real leather has an inviting feel, it provides exceptional durability, and quality leather improves with age. In a previous blog, we discussed two types of faux leather: bi-cast and bonded leather. Here, we continue the comparison with two additional types of faux leather: PU faux leather fabric and PVC faux leather fabric.

PU Faux Leather Fabric

PU leather fabric is made by applying or laminating a 100% polyurethane finish to a base material. Typical base materials include polyester, cotton, nylon, or rayon. A roller applies an artificial grain pattern to the surface to imitate the look of genuine leather. The artificial grain is typically very uniform.

PU leather

Composition of faux leather

PVC Faux Leather Fabric

PVC leather fabric is very similar to PU leather fabric. Instead of polyurethane, PVC leather fabric is made by combining polyvinylchloride with stabilizers (to protect), plasticizers (to soften) and lubricants (to make flexible), and then applying to a base material. Again, the base materials are typically polyester, cotton, nylon, or rayon.

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather is made from organic materials, typically bovine hides. The natural collagen fibers are intricately intertwined, providing superior durability over man-made, weaved products. There are numerous variations of leather with different types of finishes. Some finishes provide better protection against daily wear, however, all leather is inherently stronger due to the innate composition of the hides.


 Buyer Beware

Although the low price of faux leather may be enticing, it is important to consider the long-term value of your purchase. While many faux leathers are attractive because they are easy to clean with harsh chemicals, the laminated surface often cracks after only a few years of use. Genuine leather, on the other hand, has been known to last for 10 to 20 years or longer.

Vinyl cracking

Faux leather cracking

Learn More

Garrett Leather offers an hour-long IDCEC accredited course titled “A Comparison Between Genuine Leather and Faux Leathers”. Upon completion, designers may earn .1 CEU credit. Contact us for more information or to schedule a presentation.

9 thoughts on “How Do Faux Leather Fabrics Compare to Real Leather?

  1. GENE F. MAG

    IS SOFHYDE FAUX LEATHER? is there a vast difference between genuine leather and sofhyde. appreciate any additional info.

  2. David A EWebb

    Well the truth is Genuine Leather is genuine . anything else is FAKE LEATHER . I have bought many furniture items with faux leather . It just don’t lasts . we are ages 65/58 with no children , and even then it will peel . Even BONDED LEATHER ! Weather makers claim their material is better than others . It’s all the same . it peels ! In other word , how can you justify a material that is a defect bad anyway . No matter how well known that company is . Remember , bonded leather is real leather in small grind pieces glued over a man made material . the only real deal is GENUINE LEATHER , Not FAKE leather. Genuine leather cost more but the difference is in the quality of the real deal . it will last longer . PERIOD ! And most furniture salesman either don’t know or even care as long as they make that sale .

  3. Ted

    ABSOLUTELY! If you can afford it only buy Genuine Leather. Any of types will fade and crack overtime. Doesn’t matter who you buy it from. I purchase two beautiful swivel chairs from R&F and thinking since it came from this company it would be great and last forever. NOPE. Not the case. those chairs cracked, ripped and faded so much I thought they came from bobs.
    Like you said most salesmen don’t know their field. They’re just trying to make sale. Do your homework be an educated consumer. Genuine Leather is the way to go.

  4. Nelly M.

    Thanks for the post on faux leather fabrics! I’m a big fan of real leather and was curious to know how it compares to PU leather. You explained it well.


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