Leather products have a natural, rich, and elegant finish that distinguishes them from all synthetic materials. There are many similar-looking synthetic materials available on the market today at a much lower price. Some leather products on the market are only partially made of real leather, but are labeled as "genuine leather" or "made from real leather". These terms can be misleading to you, so it is important to be able to distinguish between synthetic and pure leather if you are planning to invest in a higher quality and more expensive product. That's why we've put together 8 tips on how to tell genuine leather from leatherette.

1. Look for the marking

Be wary of products that do not clearly state that they are made of genuine leather. If a product is labeled as being made of "synthetic material", it is not genuine leather. However, if the product does not state anything about its materials, there is a good chance that the manufacturer is trying to hide the fact that it is not genuine leather. Nevertheless, most manufacturers are proud to use genuine leather and will state on their products as such:

- Genuine leather

- Top-grain/whole-grain leather

- Made from animal products

2. Focus on imperfections

Look for uniqueness and surface imperfections that would suggest genuine leather. These random imperfections are good because they signify that the leather is genuine and not machine-made. Genuine leather comes from animal hide, so each piece should theoretically be as unique as the animal it came from. If the grain is repeated and very uniform, this often indicates a machine-made product/leather.

3. Press on the leather

To check if the leather is genuine, see if it wrinkles when you press hard on it. Just like human skin, genuine leather will develop wrinkles under pressure. When you apply pressure to synthetic materials, they stay stiff and retain their shape.


4. Smell

To tell if leather is real, start by smelling it. Leather should smell musty and natural, not like plastic or chemicals. If you're not sure what it smells like, visit a store that sells genuine leather products and compare the scent of real and fake pieces yourself. Once you know what to look for, it will be easy to tell them apart. Remember that leather comes from the processed hide of animals - it's essentially leather. Faux leather is made from plastic imitations. So real leather will naturally smell like leather, whereas faux leather will have more of a chemical smell, as it is not a natural material.

5. Fire test

The fire test is useful to determine whether an item is made of genuine leather or not. Although damage to the object is likely to occur, this experiment is still useful if you have a small, hard-to-see area to test. For example, you can use the underside of an article. Hold the flame near this area for 5 to 10 seconds and observe what happens: if it is real leather, it will be only slightly charred and you should feel the burnt hair. Faux leather, on the other hand, will usually catch fire and smell like burning plastic.

6. Notice the edges

Real leather always has rough, natural edges, while faux leather has clean, straight edges. Machine-made leather usually looks as if it has been cut by a machine rather than by hand. This is because genuine leather is made up of many fibers that naturally fray at the edges, whereas synthetic leather (usually plastic) has no such fibers.

7. Help yourself to water

Gently drip water on the surface of the leather object. If it's made of real leather, you'll see that the water is absorbed within seconds. If the item is not made of genuine leather, the water will simply settle on the surface without being absorbed.

8. The price also speaks volumes about the quality

It is important to remember that authentic leather products are rarely affordable. If the product is composed entirely of genuine leather, it will be quite expensive. Make sure you visit a few stores and understand the differences in price between genuine leather, half-leather, and synthetic products. Of all the types of leather, cowhide is usually the highest priced because it tends to last longer and has a higher quality. Split leather - which is created by splitting the bottom layer from the surface - is generally cheaper than top-grain or belt leather.