How to Identify Real Leather, Myths and Misconceptions

           There are many advantages and disadvantages of both, real leather and faux leather. While genuine leather gives an aura of luxury and prestige, faux leather can be a much more affordable alternative. Buyers should know which factors are more important to their needs, before making a purchase.

            Leather like material provides an endless source of possibilities in terms of design, color, and finish. In the fashion industry, it can be styled in countless ways and therefore have different purposes, ranging from clothing, luggage, shoes, jewelry and many other ways.

If you want to invest in a leather bag, first you should know a few things about the real leather!


Image source:

      Leather that is used, comes from cows, goats, sheep, pigs etc.

      There are many types of leather, but generally, they can be classified into the following categories, starting from the highest quality:

  • Full Grain leather
  • Top Grain leather
  • Genuine leather
  • Bonded leather as the lowest graded.

     There is also a classification on aniline, semi-aniline and pigmented. Aniline is an oily liquid that maintains the leather’s suppleness. 


Image source:

         Synthetic leather is factory made on the basis of fabric or plastic that looks like real leather. It comes in different shapes and colors. Some are better than others and are characterized by low prices. There are lots of names such as eco leather, skai, vegan leather, leatherette … Synthetic Leather is porous, it prevents air from passing, that produces sweating and feeling of discomfort.

        Many sellers sell knockoff designer handbags, advertising them as the real thing. Although the quality of synthetic leather has improved significantly, there is a clear difference between the original and synthetic. If you are thinking to buy a leather bag, it would be good to know whether it is the real deal. The uninitiated would hardly be able to distinguish one of another, but there are a number of tips that can be helpful to identify genuine from false leather. If you are skilled in recognizing fake leather, you can recognize these knockoff bags.

How to identify real leather

        There are many myths and misconceptions in the identification of the real leather. Take some time to learn about the right ones.

Look at the Labels

         Read the label or product information. Sounds obvious, but it’s the most sure-fire and the easiest way to identify the type of leather. A genuine leather bag will proudly say so on the label. Be wary of any product of which no such details are available. If the label reads, “manmade materials,” the product is not made of real leather.

       “Don’t buy a product without a label.”

Inspect the Edges

         There is an obvious difference that can be observed when comparing genuine leather and faux leather. The faux products are going to have edges that appear near perfect, that feels foamy or plastic.  A genuine bag will have a rough-around-the-edges look. Real leather is made of many strands, which naturally fray around the edges. Machine made leather looks machine cut.  Faux leather made from plastic has no such strands, meaning the edges are cleanly cut.


Image source:

Examine the Pores

          When shopping a leather product examine the pores of the fabric. Faux leather will have pores that are in a consistent pattern and it would be extremely glossy. Real leather will have smooth gloss and inconsistently placed pores because the real skin is not perfect. Imperfections, in leather, are actually a good thing, so scratches, creases, and wrinkles are actually a good thing!          capture159                                                                  Real                                                                  Fake

Touch the Leather

          Touch and feel the leather. Depending on the quality leather should feel soft, flexible and natural, the texture will generally be less consistent than fake and have a suppler feel to it. Fake leather has an artificially smooth, hard and often plastic feel to it. Fake skin compared to the real skin, tends to be more stretch and change colors when pulled.


Image source:

Smell the Item

          If you have already made a purchase, and you’re still not sure if the bag is the real thing, you can use the sense of smell. The real thing will have a scent that cannot be imitated by synthetic materials. Real leather and fake leather smells different. Real leather is made of real animal skin and so should not smell like natural leather. Faux leather usually smells of vinyl, plastic, and chemical scent. If you are not sure what the smell is, go to the store and smell real leather and artificial leather items to become acquainted with the smell.

Take a look at the backside

         Leather coating technology has gone through a great deal of developmental progress, so it’s quite difficult to compare one to another. If you look at the inner parts, you will see a rough surface, suede. However, faux leather normally comes with seams poking out because it’s treated with gauze or thin fabric.

Front side                                                                                  Back side


Image source:  

Trying folding it

           When folding genuine leather, it will fold gently and does not wrinkle easily due to the firmness on its curve, has a unique elasticity when bent, changing color and wrinkling up naturally. Faux leather is much more rigid and regular, it does not have any smooth curving or elasticity.

Burn it          

            Genuine leather has high resistance to fire and it won’t immediately be engulfed in flames when burned, or melt like a plastic. Genuine leather will only char slightly, and smell like burnt hair, faux leather will catch flame and smells like burning plastic. Plastic catch fire easily, because plastic is made of petroleum.


 Image source:

You can decide with its weight

           Bags are particularly easy to tell. Real leather is heavy, whiles faux leather is light. But there are differences in weight with skin also. Some are lighter than others and vice versa, Lambskin, for example, is lighter than cow leather. Faux leather is even lighter than both, It may even be lighter than fabric bags, too.

Drop a droplet of water on it

           When we drop a small amount of water on a bag that is made of genuine leather, it actually will absorb some water, in only a few seconds (except for waterproof leather). This absorption helps the material remain supple and does not cause the bag’s contents to become wet. The bags that are made of plastic, have a non-absorbing tendency, and water will simply slide out right of their surface.


Image source:

The price is also a good indicator

          The price between real and fake leather bags will be different. A product made of real leather will be quite expensive and they usually sell at fixed prices. There are also different types of real leather with different prices, cow leather price is the highest due to its durability and easy tanning property. Semi leather and split leather, which is an under layer split from the surface layer, is less expensive than top grain leather. If the bag is extremely cheap, it is probably made of plastic and will not last long. So if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.

Palmiro Vintage Leather Briefcase

Palmiro Vintage Leather Briefcase/Backpack


Ignore color

          Even colored leathers can be genuine. A bright red piece of a leather bag may not look natural, but this doesn’t mean it wasn’t made of real leather. Colors can be added to both synthetics and natural leathers, so ignore color and stick to other things like smell, texture and etc….


          Genuine and faux leather bags can be found for bargain prices. If shopping for an authentic leather bag, first make sure that it is the real deal, before making a purchase. Only then, you will be sure that the leather is worth the price.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *