How To Tell Fake And Real Leather Apart

How To Tell Fake Leather And Real Leather Apart | How much should a real leather jacket cost and what should you look for when buying leather?

Wondering if that leather jacket is the real deal or too good to be true? This week I’m teaching you how to tell fake leather and real leather apart.

Has anyone else gotten that leather piece home after forking out a few hundred dollars for it, only to realise it’s not actually real leather? We’ve all been tricked by clothing one way or another, but don’t fret, I’m here to teach you what to look out for so you can shop smarter next time.

I am a feeler. That comes off a little strange to some people, and it’s probably not the opening line I would use to describe myself, but when it comes to going through a client’s wardrobe, shopping for them or myself, I must feel everything. If I can’t touch the fabric my client will be wearing; I can’t trust that it’s going to work for them. So when it comes to buying one of the most common staple pieces in a woman’s wardrobe, the leather jacket, it’s important to know what you’re paying for and it’s also helpful to know how to tell fake leather apart from real leather.


Polyurethane is great sometimes when you’re after a quick statement piece for the season if you want to be trendy, but don’t want to spend your rent. It looks like leather, to the untrained feeler, feels like leather and some stores even have it scented to make it smell like leather. Moo! But don’t be fooled by the brand or the price, many retailers will put leather look garments with a higher price tag to trick people into thinking it’s leather to make a higher profit.

DO: Turn the garment inside out and look for the fabric composition tag, it will read something like this: Polyester Lining, PU Outer. The PU, means Polyurethane.

DON’T: Think that just because it’s soft that it’s leather.

Tip: Other names for fake leather are: Leatherette, Vegan Leather and P Leather.

Patent Leather

This can be a tricky one to tell apart, mainly because of its shiny appearance, but just to answer a question I’m commonly asked; Is patent leather real leather? There are plenty of real leather options that have been treated with a smooth and glossy coating, this is common in footwear and small clutch bags. The fake stuff is often found in lower range stores and on clothing in preference to accessories. The great thing about Patent Leather is that it can be wiped down easily if it gets a spill on it, the not so great thing about it is that it scuffs easily and that is hard to fix.

DO: Beware of the phrase ‘Patent Leather Finish’ on garments. This is often there to let the buyer think they’re buying real leather. Unless the garment has the animal type or ‘genuine leather’ written on its composition tag, ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s not the real deal. As the majority of patent leather style clothing is produced for trend purposes, it’s often not made to last. This is why you will often find bags and shoes have a higher rate of being real patent leather as opposed to clothing.

DON’T: Care for vinyl or faux patent leather the way you would with authentic patent leather. You’ll damage the surface and it will get a smudged look about it. Remember not to let the price dictate the idea of what type of quality it is, check the tag always.

how to tell fake leather apart from real leather

Real Leather

Real leather can feel smooth or rough, that’s how it gets most of us so confused. If it’s overly smooth (with no natural marks to the skin) or feels a little like plastic, the chances are that it’s fake. Another great thing to try is to pull the fabric lightly between your hands; real leather shouldn’t stretch easily after one or two tugs, fake leather will.

DO: Look at the edges of the leather carefully. Fake leather will be neat around the edges, but real leather is often bumpy or jagged and a little rougher around the edges.

DON’T: Fall for faux leather with imprinted pores. Real leather will have inconsistent markings on it, but fake leather will have printed markings on it.

How much does a leather jacket cost? And how much does a fake leather jacket cost?

It’s surprising how many big brand names attach a high price tag to a polyurethane jacket in the hopes that you’ll buy it just because of the brand’s reputation, or because you’ll think the price must mean it’s real leather. It’s always a good idea to consider what type of activities you’ll be doing in the jacket, if you know you can’t take care of a leather jacket then the PU fabric is a much smarter, more cost-effective choice and you shouldn’t spend more than $200 on it.

If on the other hand, you’re like me and would cry at the site of cracked, poorly cared for leather and you’ll treat your jacket like a baby and love it with all your heart then you can usually expect to pay between $500 and $1200 for a great leather jacket. Just remember when forking out that much to pick a style you can see yourself loving in at least five years time.

Check the imprint:

Many fake leather bags have been embossed to look like leather, meaning it has been pressed and indented in a particular way to mimic the natural markings of real leather. Have a good look at the leather and see if you notice the pattern repeating, if it is, it’s more than likely faux leather.

Do you know other ways of how to tell fake leather apart from real leather? Or do you have a tricky question you need answering? Sound off in the comments below!


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