We get asked all the time ‘How do I know if it’s real or fake leather?’, and there are actually several ways to tell. Though well made fake leather is resembling more and more the real thing; there are few tests to perform to make sure you know what you are buying.
One way to tell if leather is real is to take the lining away fso that you only have the leather between your fingers. Pinch your fingers together and try to slide the two pieces. They shouldn’t budge (at least not easily). The other side of the leather is rougher and usually unfinished; also known as suede, and the fibers catch each other keeping it from sliding. You can do this with jackets, handbags, and wallets. With belts you are generally able to see the fibers on the tip of the belt, buckle end, that indicate a natural material. Now, if you have something like the Kelly Bag, leather/leather together you won’t be able to do this trick.
Check the grain of the leather. Leather is made from animal skin so there will be pores, grain and impurities making each piece unique. By pressing into the surface you should see wrinkles and creases indicating that the leather is real. Regular or an even grain are indications of machine made products. The same goes for the material holding its shape against pressure.
You may trust your instinct of scent. Leather has a natural and musty smell and should be subtle. If an article has a super strong leather smell it may have been sprayed with the fake leather spray; we call it ‘the new car smell’. Manmade materials also have strong undertones of chemicals or plastic in their smell.
The price of an item will also be a big indication of the material used – real leather is expensive and the price will reflect that especially if it is a quality item. Most imitation leathers will have a significantly lower price. [There are a couple of exceptions to this being the material that is used by some high end brands such as Louis Vuitton and Alviero Martini because of the complicated way it is made. More on this in March!]