Spending money on fine leather goods is an excellent investment. Your fine leather goods will last a lifetime, and maintain its beauty for years to come. Actually, fine leather goods often grow in beauty and value over time, if well-maintained. However, when you are investing in fine leather goods, you probably care most about the quality of it. In most cases, the price tag matches the value of the leather item you are buying (but so does the level of pride you get from it, making it worthwhile). However, when you spend this amount of money on a leather item, it is extremely frustrating (to say the least) to realize later that the leather belts, leather briefcases, leather totes, and so on, that you took pride in, are actually fakes. To avoid this heartbreaking scenario, we’ve put together a list of ways to separate faux leather from real.
Seven Ways to Identify Faux Leather
- Smell it.
Yes, we’re being serious. Put it right up to your sniffer and take a whiff. Real leather has a very distinctive smell that warms the soul. Your fine leather goods should emit a musky and rugged fragrance. If your leather piece is a fraud, it’s going to smell more like a chemical warehouse. If you smell vinyl from your leather piece, it’s probably not real. The bottom line, if your leather good smells like plastic, it is plastic.
- Inspect the undercarriage.
Some leather goods, such as purses or satchels, have a lining that prevents you from seeing the natural backside. However, if the leather piece allows, take a look at the underside of it. Faux leather will look sort of like felt or vinyl on the bottom (clearly man-made), whereas real leather has an organic texture of suede. While the technology that creates fake leather has gotten really good at making it look legit, there are just some things only nature can create. If you look at the bottom or inside of fake leather, you’ll see a gauze or thin fabric that the leather coating is applied to.
- Analyze the surface of the leather.
Because it is an organic material, natural leather has an array of lines and pores with no pattern to them. Depending on if the legitimate leather has a sealing, it might have a smooth gloss. On the other hand, artificial leather isn’t going to have the organic texture that natural leather has. Faux leather also either has a very high sheen, or no sheen at all. It is uncommon that you’d find fake leather with the subtle, smooth gloss that natural leather has.
- Give it the folding test.
If you fold natural leather in half, you’ll find that it gently folds over, without incurring a crease. On the other hand, artificial leather does not have the elasticity genuine leather. If you fold false leather in half, you’ll find that it won’t fold, or picks up an unsightly line on the crease.
- Expose it to a (tiny amount of) fire.
Okay, we recognize that you cannot burn leather that you haven’t paid for, so this suggestion may not be very helpful if you’re at a leather retailer about to make a purchase. However, just for your own knowledge, if false leather is exposed to heat, it withers up and melts due to the polymers that it is made of. On the other hand, real leather may pick up a bit of a tinge (that can often be buffed out), but the structure of it does not change at all.
- Consider the weight of the leather.
If your leather jacket (for example) seems rather light, it is probably fake. Real leather tends to be heavier. We understand that the type of animal the leather is made of also contributes to the weight of it, but across the board, faux leather weighs less than legitimate leather.
- Give it the water drop test.
If you expose leather to a very small drop of water, you will find that authentic leather is porous and absorbs the water, and fake leather does not. Like the plastic that faux leather is actually composed of, the water just slides right off of it.
Do you have any other great tips for identifying fake leather? Please share in the comment section!