The faux leather industry has experienced a huge increase in trend and popularity in the last five years. With so many designers coming to us at #clutchmadedotcom to make in the USA we decided to write a blog on what it actually means to use leather versus vegan leathers.
In terms of physical characteristics real leather will not be completely uniform as it is a naturally occuring material from animal skinds. Blemishes and imperfections are part of what make leather so appealling and real in manufacturing. When you run your hand across real leather it won't feel perfectly smooth, the surface will stretch and wrinkle as you touch and play with it. Real leather also has a distinctive smell, it's a natural leathery, rubber smell that cannot be manufactured.
Faux leather on the other hand will feel the opposite. It will be perfectly regular to touch with no imperfections as it is machine made. It will be completely even and often feel cold to touch. Faux leather is going to have a more plasticy and synthetic smell.
Perhaps the most important element for a designer to consider is the practicality and durability of both types of leathers. Real leather far outlasts synthetic, with more endurance and the developing of character and patina as it is worn. Faux leather on the other hand is not made to last as long, and will obviously wear differently.
Where faux leather sometimes wins the argument is definitely in ethics and sustainability. Ethically centred and concious designers will often consider these aspects before any other aesthetic quality. Real leather obviously comes with a barrel of ethical concerns in relation to the use of animal products. When sourced sustainably and tanned naturally it can be argued however, that these products are ethical and sustainable. Faux leather has a smaller impact on sustainability and ethics in relation to animals. However the chemicals used in the production can have negative environmental impacts.