Faux Leather Vs Real Leather - Which is better?

If you are looking to invest in a Men's bag but can't decide if you should go for real leather or faux leather, we will be able to help you decide by highlighting the difference in their features.

Genuine leather is one of the most desirable and aesthetically pleasing materials available, and with its ability to stand the test of time it is considered a luxury material. This means it typically comes with a high price tag along with where it is sourced from-animal skin. Faux leather is just as popular as many fashion brands use it as an alternative for bags, clothes and accessories as a cheaper and more affordable alternative for their customer. The resources used to make faux leather are non-renewable along with the methods being deemed not environmentally friendly which is the root as to why this alternative to leather gets a lot of criticism.

So if you are looking to invest in a bag, which will you choose? Real or imitation leather?

How to Distinguish Real Leather From Artificial Leather

Many people have mixed feelings when it comes to choosing between real leather and one of its many imitations, but really it simply comes down to a contest between their individual properties: so we are going to compare both for you to help decide which is the better choice for you by looking at comfort, visual appeal, cost, texture and practicality.

There are many terms for faux leather, here are the most commonly used ones.

  • Imitation leather
  • PU (Polyurethane)
  • Leatherette
  • Pleather
  • Faux-leather


Genuine leather, though treated, is still made from a natural material and generally behaves like one. It is breathable, flexible and generally quite malleable. Faux-leather on the other hand has the tendency to be quite rigid, and because it is a synthetic material it does not have the same natural 'give' that real leather offers.

One of the major differences between the two with regards to comfort is that where real leather will soften over time, plastic-based man-made leather will not.

Visual Appeal

Synthetic leather, being man-made, is a more versatile material than real leather, and can be found in a far wider range of colours, finishes and patterns than its natural counter-part. Real leather makes up for these short comings by the refined air it takes on as it ages and the way in which its distinctive odour complements its overall visual effect. It should also be noted that full-grain leather benefits from unique, natural patterns, whilst the patterns on faux-leather can be rather uniform.

Synthetic leather requires far less upkeep than real leather, and will retain its original visual appeal long into the future; but so too will natural leather that has been properly maintained and lovingly cared for.


Whether you're talking about cowboy boots, trench coats or men's handbags, real leather items will always be more expensive than artificial leather. Natural leather fashion accessories require greater skill and specialised techniques to put together, and the material itself goes through more costly storage, transport and manufacturing procedures prior to being used.

Disregarding the impact that labels and retail location can have on price, synthetic leather is always going to be less expensive, but in many ways this only serves to make leather bags, shoes, coats, and other fashionable apparel more exclusive.


One of the biggest and most obvious tell-tale signs of synthetic leather is the way it feels. Try as they might, there is just no way to get leatherette, pleather, or any other leather alternative to feel like natural leather. This is a real shame, as the soft, supple way that leather feels is actually one of the things people love most about it.

Leather is occasionally treated with a protective pigment that may give it a smooth, plastic like feel to it. On these occasions it can be difficult to tell real leather and faux leather apart based on texture alone.


This is what it all comes down to really, isn't it? A leather bag can look, feel and smell as good as it wants, but if it does not perform the way you want it to then it is not much good. Well let's just say there is a reason why leather has been relied upon all throughout human history: it is strong, durable and if looked after it can easily outlast its original owner.

Man-made leather has its sturdy presence but in reality will not stand the test of time like real leather will. It comes down to if you want to break the bank and invest in a bag for life or spend a little less with the reality that you will have to re-purchase when it starts to wear.

By looking at the different properties that both man-made and real leather offer, you should hopefully now be more knowledgeable on which one best suits you. It is very much down to personal preference and what qualities you are after in your leather or man-made bag. If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at our recent post on Caring For Leather Messenger Bags.