Real natural leather has a very distinctive smell - a natural, organic scent that cannot be accurately manufactured. (Representational Image: AFP)
Buying a leather product is a very personal choice. Most customers ask "Is this real leather?" or "how can I check if this is real leather?" when buying and it can be a daunting experience. Spotting the difference between real natural leather and synthetic or alternative leather can be difficult with technological advancements today. However, there are some clues that can help point to real leather from synthetic for customers to make an educated decision at purchase. It requires your sensual senses – eyes, nose, touch, so have some fun when buying your leather product!
QUALITY LEATHER IS WORTH MENTIONING
The first clue in determining the quality of leather is reading the company’s website and product materials. Full-grain leather is the most durable and highest quality choice whereas a genuine or bonded leather product might not last as long. Products made of quality real leather will proudly say so on the label/website as its worth mentioning.
If the label says any of the following, it’s synthetic:
And if it doesn’t say anything at all about the material, then again, it’s probably PVC or a synthetic polymer product.
WHEN IN DOUBT, TRUST YOUR NOSE - SMELL CLUE
Real natural leather has a very distinctive smell - a natural, organic scent that cannot be accurately manufactured. On the other hand, synthetic leather smells like chemicals or plastic. If it smells a little plastic-y, or hints of chemical odour, then you can bet it’s synthetic.
Another clue is the fabric. Closely examine the pores of the fabric. Real leather comes from real hide which has the same properties of skin with natural imperfections. Synthetic leather on the other hand will have pores stamped on the material, hence, it has a consistent and repeatable pattern. Real leather will have inconsistently placed pores as is with a natural hide. Sometimes, manufactures may stamp on the real leather in order to create a pattern that didn't exist in the natural hide.
Another clue is touch. Real leather is a natural material made of real hide which stretches and forms wrinkles when pressed against. Synthetic leather depresses under your finger and retains its shape, firmness and texture.
As a general rule, synthetic or faux leather item will cost far less than the real leather item, especially within the same brand. Real leather is expensive for manufacturers and goes through a series of time-consuming and detailed processes to be made into the final product.
Disclaimer - If you are seriously curious, and own the leather product , then you can also choose to perform the fire test.
Take a little fibre from the backside of the leather material, and then put it into the fire (use a match or a lighter). If the smell is very intense and it melts, it is synthetic. If it charrs and smell like burnt hair, it's leather .
Disclaimer - If you are seriously curious, and own the leather product , then you can also choose to perform the Cut test.
If you cut the material, natural leather will have a fibrous edge whereas a synthetic one will have an extremely precise & smoothly cut edge.
Credits to be attributed to – Mr. Harshminder Sidhu, Founder & Chief Brand Officer at GARRTEN