Products made of leather are more classy than those made from synthetic fibers because the end result looks natural, luxurious, and elegant. Today many synthetic materials are similar to the original and are sold at much cheaper prices. In addition, there are also items that are not completely made of pure leather but are labeled as "Genuine Leather" or "Made of Genuine Leather". These ambiguous terms are used by sellers to deceive consumers. If you are planning to buy goods made of good quality leather, which are usually quite expensive, you must be able to tell the difference between genuine leather and synthetic leather.
Method 1 of 2: Distinguishing Genuine Leather from Fake Kulit
Step 1. Be wary of products that are not specifically claimed to be made of genuine leather
If the product is labeled “Hanmade Material”, it is certain that the material is synthetic. If there is no label at all, chances are the manufacturer wants to cover up the fact that the product is not made of genuine leather. Of course, many products lose their label, but most manufacturers are proud if they use genuine leather so will label as follows:
- Real leather
- genuine leather
- Top/Full grain leather
- Made from animal products
Step 2. Re-examine the surface texture, pores and small “pebbles”, looking for flaws and uniqueness that indicate the material is genuine leather
For leather, blemishes are a good sign. Remember, genuine leather is made from animal skin, so each piece is as random and unique as the animal that owns the skin. A very ordinary, balanced, and even texture usually indicates that the material is machine-made.
- Genuine leather can have scratches, wrinkles, and creases – that's a great trait!
- Please note: the more skilled the manufacturer, the more closely their designs resemble real leather. This is what makes online shopping, where you only see products based on images, so difficult to do.
Step 3. Press the skin, looking for creases and wrinkles
Real leather will wrinkle when pressed, just like our skin. Synthetic materials usually sag a little when pressed, but then return to their original shape and stiffness.
Step 4. Sniff the smell
Look for a natural musty scent, not one that smells like plastic or chemicals. If you're not entirely sure what smell to look for, visit a store you know sells genuine leather and smell some shoes or bags. Ask the salesperson if they sell synthetic products, so you can smell them too. Once you know what smell you're looking for, you can't go wrong with the different scents.
Remember, pure leather is made from animal skin. Fake leather is made of plastic. Usually it will be obvious that real leather smells like leather while fake ones smell like plastic
Step 5. Test with fire
This method may cause damage to the product. Although burning the product is effective, this method is rarely chosen. This can be done if there is a small hidden area for testing, such as the underside of a sofa. Hold the fire close to the area for 5-10 seconds to test it:
- Genuine leather will only be slightly charred and smells somewhat similar to burnt hair.
- The fake leather will burn and smell like burnt plastic.
Step 6. Pay attention to the edges
Genuine leather edges are rough while faux leather edges are even and flawless. Machine made leather looks like it was machine cut. Genuine leather is made of many fibers so it is usually frayed at the edges. The faux leather is made of lint-free plastic so the edges can be neatly trimmed.
Step 7. Bend the material
If it is bent, the color of the real leather will change slightly. Similar to the “wrinkle test”, genuine leather has a unique elasticity so that when bent, discoloration and wrinkles are common. Fake leather is stiffer and more regular so it is usually more difficult to bend than genuine leather.
Step 8. Drop a small amount of water on the product
In fake leather products, the water will only pool on the surface, but real leather will absorb the liquid in just seconds.
Step 9. Genuine leather products are rarely cheap
Products made entirely of genuine leather are definitely quite expensive. Usually these products are sold at the right price. Visit various stores so that you know the price range of genuine leather, semi-leather and synthetic leather products and understand the differences between these materials. Among the genuine leather range, cowhide products are the most expensive due to their durability and ease of browning. PU leather, which consists only of the inner skin because the outer has been removed, is cheaper than “Top Grain” or “Full Grain”.
- If an offer seems too beautiful to be true, it looks like it's a hoax because genuine leather is expensive.
- Although all genuine leather is much more expensive than fake, genuine leather is also of many kinds, and is priced at much different prices.
Step 10. Ignore the colors, because even colorful ones can be made of genuine leather
Leather furniture that is bright blue in color may not look natural but that doesn't mean it's not genuine leather. Dyes can be added to both synthetic and genuine leather. So, ignore the color and focus on texture, smell, and touch to tell the difference between real and fake leather.
Method 2 of 2: Know the Types of Genuine Leather
Step 1. Understand that "Genuine Leather" is only one of the quality grades of genuine and legitimate leather sold in the market
Most people prefer to distinguish genuine leather from fake, but serious enthusiasts know that genuine leather comes in many grades of quality and that "Genuine Leather" is second-to-bottom. Levels of genuine leather quality, from the most luxurious to the lowest are:
- Full Grain Leather
- Top Grain Leather
- Genuine Leather
- Bonded Leather
Step 2. Purchase a special "Full Grain" leather for the most luxurious products
“Full Grain” uses only the highest layer of leather (those closest to the air) making it the toughest, most durable and most popular material. The material is left as it is, which means it has very unique characteristics, wrinkles, and colors. Since each animal does not have too many layers of this skin, the price is quite expensive.
Be aware that some manufacturers will make statements such as "made of Full Grain leather" when only part of the chair or sofa is made of "Full Grain" leather. Therefore, you should not buy goods without seeing it in person first
Step 3. Look for the “Top Grain” leather label to get a high-quality product but one that is much more reasonable in price
Often “luxury” leather is made of “Top Grain”, which only applies a layer under the “Full Grain” then lightly polished to remove blemishes. This material is smoother and more consistent than “Full Grain”, but it's also easier to work with and so costs less.
Although not as durable as "Full Grain", "Top Grain" is still strong and good
Step 4. Be aware that one of the "Genuine Leather" surfaces is usually suede, or feels like suede
“Genuine Leather” is made by removing the coarser and more expensive fibers from the top, and using only the layer underneath, which is softer and easier to work with. This material is not as durable as “Full Grain” or “Top Grain”, but it is much cheaper because it can be easily made into various products.
Remember, “Genuine Leather” is only a certain level of quality, not a phrase to indicate the product is made of genuine leather. When you say “Genuine Leather” in a leather shop, the salespeople think of only products of a certain quality
Step 5. Avoid "Bounded Leather" which is made of leather shavings that are ground and glued together
Although still leather, this material is not made from a whole piece of animal skin. This material is made from the remnants of other leather qualities that are collected, ground, and then mixed with liquid glue until it becomes a piece of leather. The price is indeed cheap, but the quality is very low.