Real Leather vs Faux Leather (PU / Artificial Leather) vs Bonded Leather

Leather is often considered a staple in men’s and women’s fashion. It is not always easy, however, to distinguish between real leather, bonded leather and faux or fake leather(PU leather). It can be quite frustrating to purchase a product which looks like a genuine leather product, but later to realize it is actually artificial leather or faux leather or a bonded leather. Authentic leather is much more expensive than faux leather and bonded leather, so it is important to know the difference between the three. Using the detail guidelines below, shoppers will be able to easily distinguish between real and faux leather and bonded leathers by mastering a few simple tips. Learning how to differentiate real leather from faux leather and bonded leather will ensure an efficient and enjoyable buying experience.

Real Leather

Genuine leathers are made from the skins of animals, such as cattle, goats, sheep and camel etc. There are many types of leather, but it can generally be categorized into three types: aniline, semi-aniline, and pigmented. When choosing which type of leather to purchase, consider the desired appearance, and how often the leather will be used.

1. Aniline Leather

Aniline leather is high quality, top-grain leather that has no protective treatment applied. It is the most natural looking leather. Aniline finishes allow the natural leather markings to show. The leather is susceptible to surface scratches and easily absorbs stains. It is also prone to fading if in the sun for an extended period of time.

2. Semi-Aniline Leather

Semi-aniline leather is pure aniline leather that has a light surface coating of pigment or clear finish. This increases the durability of the leather and protects it from stains and spills, while still retaining its natural appearance. The surface coating also ensures color consistency throughout the leather.

3. Pigmented Leather

Pigmented leather is top-grain leather that has been coated with a clear top layer or pigment. Pigments give the leather a shiny, even top color, making the leather have a less natural appearance. Leather is pigmented to provide durability and to hide natural blemishes. It is easy to maintain and has maximum resistance to stains, wear, and fading. Pigmented leather is typically found in furniture and auto upholstery.

Faux Leather or Artificial Leather

Faux leather is made from a fabric base, which is chemically treated with wax, dye, or polyurethane (PU) for a color and texture. Ultimately, it is manmade and exists to give the look and feel of real leather at an exceptionally lower cost. The most common type of faux leather is pu leather. It is a plastic fabric made to look like leather. Please keep in mind that plastic is non-recyclable. It is lighter and less restrictive than real leather, and can be dyed in any color. Faux leather comes in many forms and some are better quality than others. Other types of faux leather include leatherette and vegan leather.

Spotting Faux (Artificial) Leather

The main differences between real and faux leather are the quality and durability. Spotting the difference between faux and real leather can be difficult because they can look very similar. There are several techniques that are used to identify faux leather.

1. Look at the Labels

While it may sound obvious, looking at the label on the product is an easy way to identify the type of leather. Products made of real leather will proudly say so on the label. If the label reads, “man-made materials” or “PU materials” etc, the product is not made of real leather.

2. Inspect the Edges

Look at the edges of the leather products. Faux (Artificial) leather products will have a perfect-looking edge that feels foamy or plastic. Authentic or Real leather will have a rough-around-the-edges look.

3. Examine the Pores

When making a leather purchase, closely examine the pores of the fabric. Faux (Artificial) leather will have pores that are in a consistent pattern, while real leather will have inconsistently placed pores.

4. Touch the Leather

Depending on the quality, real leather can feel coarse or smooth, or anywhere in between. Leather is also flexible and soft. If the item in questions feels really smooth or has a similar feel to plastic, it is likely fake leather. Faux or Artificial leather also tends to stretch more than real leather. To become familiarized with the feel of real and faux leather, go to a reputable leather store and feel real leather to compare it to faux leather.

5. Smell the Item

Smell the object for the distinct leather smell. The smell of real leather cannot be replicated by synthetic materials. It may help to go to a department store and smell real leather items and faux leather items to become acquainted with the smell.

Bonded Leather

Bonded leather is made by shredding leather scraps and leather fiber, then mixing it with bonding materials. The mixture is next extruded onto a fiber cloth, or paper backing, and the surface is usually embossed with a leather-like texture or grain. Color and patterning, if any, are a surface treatment that does not penetrate like a dyeing process would. The natural leather fiber content of bonded leather varies. The manufacturing process is somewhat similar to the production of paper. Lower-quality materials may suffer flaking of the surface material in as little as a few years, while better varieties are considered very durable and retain their pattern and color even during commercial use. Because the composition of bonded leathers and related products varies considerably (and is sometimes a trade secret), it may be difficult to predict how a given product will perform over the course of time. There is a wide range in the longevity of bonded leathers and related products; some better-quality bonded leathers are claimed to be superior in durability over low-quality genuine leather.

Spotting the Bonded Leather

Bonded leather can be found in furniture, book-binding, and various fashion accessories. Products that are commonly constructed with different varieties of bonded leather include book covers, cases and covers for personal electronics, shoe components, textile and accessory linings, portfolios and briefcases, handbags, belts, chairs, and sofas. A more fragile paper-backed bonded leather is typically used to cover books such as diaries and Bibles, and various types of desk accessories. These bonded leathers might contain a smaller proportion of leather than those used in the furniture industry, and have some leather exposed in the product’s surface, producing the characteristic odor associated with leather.
These same applications can alternately use artificial leather constructed in a similar appearance to bonded leather.

Comparing Real, Faux and Bonded Leather

Real, Faux and Bonded Leather have many different qualities. Each type has advantages and disadvantages. Consider several factors when making a leather purchase.

Advantages of Authentic Leather

Genuine leather is a natural product. There is nothing like the smell and feel of real leather. Real leather gives an aura of luxury and prestige. Because no two animal hides are exactly the same, each piece of authentic leather has unique natural characteristics. The leather becomes softer and more attractive over time, which makes it more comfortable. Leather also has a soft, yet strong texture, making it hard-wearing. Many real leather products are also treated to help prevent stains. Leather is easy to take care of when maintained properly; it only needs a regular wiping with a clean, damp cloth.

Disadvantages of Authentic Leather

Real leather is much more expensive than its counterpart. If leather is in constant sunlight, the color may fade. Leather is very porous and absorbent, so drops of liquid will quickly soak into the item if not wiped up promptly. If the leather is not protected, this can result in a stain.

Advantages of Faux Leather

Faux leather has a similar look and feel to genuine leather, while being much more affordable. Some people prefer faux leather simply because no animals are harmed in the making of the material. Faux leather is made from a machine, which ensures that the fabric has an even, consistent color throughout. It can also be dyed into many different colors, and is usually fade resistant.

Disadvantages of Faux Leather

Faux or artificial leather is non-recyclable. Faux leather has about a third of the life span of real leather. It cracks and splits much easier than real leather, and becomes more uncomfortable over time. It does not develop luster like real leather. Faux leather is very thin and does not offer the warmth of real leather. It also smells like plastic or rubber.

Advantages of Bonded Leather

Possible advantages of bonded leather include:
  • Environmentally friendly – reuses leftover leather without extra farming
  • Product consistency – no natural defects and minimal batch to batch variation
  • High cutting yield – cost efficient and reduces landfill waste

Disadvantages of Bonded Leather

Possible drawbacks include:
  • Difficult or impossible to repair or recondition after wear or damage
  • Outgassing and “sweating” of plasticizers and other chemicals from poorly formulated products
  • Typically not as durable as genuine leather
There are variety of real leather products listed on VILL OKSE store. Whether you are looking for leather clothing,handbags, briefcases, satchels,travel bags or duffle bags, Vill Okse has it all. Once you decide which leather product is right for you, start searching for item listings on Vill Okse.

Category Listings

The Shop Online tab on the right top corner of Vill Okse’s home page will allow you to choose the desired product you are looking for.

Buy Leather with Confidence

Leather can be an expensive investment. But when you purchase with Vill Okse then be assured you are buying directly from the craftsman. This removes the middlemen, significantly reduces waste, and removes the costs associated with stockpiling large quantities of leather. All of this adds up to huge savings, which we pass onto you, our customer.


There are many advantages to both real leather and faux (artificial) leather. While real or genuine leather adds a look of luxury and prestige, faux leather can be a cheaper alternative. If shopping for authentic genuine leather, buy with confidence on Vill Okse ( This will ensure that the leather is worth the price.
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