What is the Faux Leather?

What is the Faux Leather?

Many people who look at leather, want to know which is better: faux leather or real leather. Buying leather products is different from buying cotton products, as leather products are expensive, different attributes. So, check out what faux leather is, and why you should buy faux leather products. 

Faux leather is also known as Artificial leather is made from a plastic bade fabric known as polyester, then it is formulated with wax, dye, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or polyurethane, to imitate the real leather. 

It consists of a knitted polyester base with a PVC or polyurethane coating. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what faux leather is, as well as how it smells, looks, and feels. We’ll also discuss how it is different from real leather, in terms of quality, price, durability, etc. In addition, how to stretch, unwrinkle, shrink, and take care of faux leather. 


Origin Of Faux Leather

The first manifestation of faux leather was invented in Germany, and it is still in production, under the name ‘ Presstoff ‘. Furthermore, this type was altered to make a more durable and desirable fabric, under the name ‘ Naugahyde ‘ in 1920 by the U. S. Rubber plant in Naugatuck, Connecticut.  For nearly four decades, this brand was in the production of different artificial materials, including making war accessories. 

In 1960, the brand was promoted as a fictional faux leather monster named the Nauga. 

However, faux leather took a drastic downfall, because of the environmental movement, which showcased the production of faux leather. 

Several manufacturers are finding a way to fully create a fabric that is not made from non-biodegradable and environmentally harmful petroleum-based plastics. In recent years, there are some developments, where faux leather is also made from plants like pineapple, etc, which is represented as Vegan Leather. 

What is the Faux Leather?

Faux leather or also popularly known as Artificial leather is made to look real, but without killing animals. Unlike real leather, which is expensive to produce, faux leather is easy to produce, environment friendly, durable, and easy to care for. Faux leather has a uniform texture pattern as it is man-made, built from plastic, and can be made in large quantities. 

Because of the chemical used in production, the faux leather can smell like plastic. However, the bad feature of faux leather as compared to real leather is its durability, and it lasts only for a short period. 

After a few years, the faux leather can be damaged, and the leather material will be cracked or roughed up surfaces. 

How does Faux Leather smell? 

Faux leather is made from a variety of plastic and plant materials, like PVC or PU, which describe the use of chemicals while making it. So, it’s natural, when the first faux leather is produced it stinks from chemicals. 

However, a newly built product of faux leather smells like rotten fish, and sometimes it’s quite strong. This technique can be used whether the product is made from faux leather or real leather, as real leather has a burnt hair smell. 

It is difficult to remove the faux leather smell instantly, and the leather is in humid temperatures, it stinks a lot. 

During this time, to remove the smell from faux leather products, you can create a mixture of vinegar and water, and spray it on the faux leather.

After 5 minutes, wipe the solution. 

How does Faux leather look? 

Faux leather is available in numerous varieties, like real leather, it has good quality and bad quality. 

From the first look, it is not easy to know whether the product is made from real Or faux leather. 

However, faux leather is synthetic-based material, while real leather is animal skin, so faux leather is not as breathable as real leather is. 

Also, the texture in the appearance of both leather is hard to differentiate, and sometimes they feel and look the same, but they can be differentiated with a sense of touch as real leather is soft and smooth, while faux leather is quite rigid and rough. 

Faux Vs Real Leather

While buying a leather garment, most people are concerned with the same question of which is better: faux leather or real leather.  Most people think that faux leather is only good for the environment, as it requires killing animals for the skin. However, this is not the only prominent feature of faux leather, it also comes with different properties that make it a significant purchase, as compared to real leather goods. 

Environment Friendly

Faux leather is known as vegan leather, as the production of leather doesn’t require animal skin. Saving animals is essential, to maintain the ecosystem of the food chain. Also, it is ethically wrong to use animals for their benefit. 

However, faux leather is also not fully environment friendly, Z manufacturing causes the disposal of PVC synthetics, which can lead to several health issues for humans. Furthermore, these synthetic substances are not biodegradable, which ultimately affects the ecosystem of the earth. 

Quality and durability

While considering which one is better, the prime factor that every person wants to know is the quality of the product and how long it will last. 

In terms of quality, real leather is far superior to faux leather, in the texture, the feel, and the comfort, in all these categories, real leather is better. 

Faux leather is thinner in comparison with real leather, thus making it lightweight, and more prone to make fashionable goods. Also, this affects the durability of faux leather. 

For instance, by choosing a real leather shoe, it will last decades, and the product will not be damaged. 

On the other hand, faux leather shoes only last about 2-3 years, which gives you the advantage of getting more fashionable things in your closet. 

If you wear real leather garments or shoes constantly, the real leather forms a patina that gives an edged look. 

However, due to the unbreathable feature of faux leather, it can be uncomfortable to wear for a long time. 


Real leather is more expensive than faux leather. It goes to every real leather product. In addition, when the real leather is combined with great craftsmanship, then it gets a lot more expensive. Faux leather is cheaper and comes in different quality and durability options. 

So, if you want a more fashionable look, you can choose faux leather products, as they are made according to trendy designs.

On the other hand, if you want a classy look, and the ability to wear the same goods for a decade, then you can choose real leather products. 

Care and Maintenance

Faux leather is made with plastic fabric and has a plastic coating, thus making it waterproof. So, taking care of any faux leather product is quite easy, this includes cleaning. For instance, to clean faux leather shoes, you have to use a mild detergent and use water, and it will clean and wipe the dirt off them. 

Cleaning and Maintenance of real leather is a time-consuming process. Every leather product requires 2-3 times the maintenance of proper cleaning. Including, to maintain them fully flashy and clean, every time you wear them, you have to use a specialized leather conditioner. 

For real leather maintenance, this is the best choice to opt for. 

Can You Unwrinkle Faux Leather? 

Yes, you can Unwrinkle a faux leather good. For instance, if your leather jacket is wrinkled, you will need only a few minutes, but it is important to know that some steps should be followed to Unwrinkle Faux leather. 

The important step: Do not iron your faux leather well, as it will certainly damage the product, because of the small amount of added plastic inside the faux leather. 

How to Unwrinkle faux leather

Step 1: Put the faux leather garment into the clothing dryer, and add several towels inside it too. Set the speed of the dryer to medium, too high, Or too long gear exposure will damage the faux leather. 

Step 2: Stop the dryer after 2 minutes, and let faux leather cool down for a few minutes. For cooling, it’s better to hand them, also this will remove excess wrinkles. 

Step 3: Again, heat the faux leather goods for 1 minute, and repeat the cooling procedure. 

Step 4: Lay the leather garment on the iron board, and place a clean town on top of the leather garment. Iron out the towel, on a steam setting to remove wrinkles. 

Step 5: After 1 minute of ironing, let the garment cool down for 2 minutes, then repeats the process if there are wrinkles left. 

If you follow the procedure, it will remove all the wrinkles from your faux leather garments. 

Can You Shrink Faux Leather? 

Yes, faux leather can shrink, according to your preference, but the number is quite low. In addition, there are a series of steps you must follow to shrink faux leather, as it is quite delicate and a misguided step will lead to the cracking of faux leather fabric. 

Check out the steps you need to follow to shrink faux leather:

How To Shrink Faux Leather

  1. The first step is to shrink faux leather, which is to wash it. It can be washed in a washing machine or hand wash. Avoid using any detergent, while washing the faux leather. 
  2. Add a baking soda, to the washing machine, which will urgent any contamination of the faux leather. 
  3. Put the leather well in any type of fabric, to avoid ruining it while drying.
  4. Dry the fabric, and as the leather is inside the fabric, it will not damage the leather goods. For instance, if you dry a leather jacket, it will crack in a lot of places, if the dryer is set at high temperatures, due to a significant change of temp in a short period. 
  5. Repeat this cycle, until you are satisfied with the appropriate size of leather goods. 

Can Faux Leather be Stretched? 

Yes, Faux leather can be stretched but not to a huge margin. The difference is very minimal, as compared to genuine leather. Also, if the stretch faux leather is stretched too much, then the fabric will crack. 

Can You Distress Faux Leather?

Yes, it is possible to distress faux leather, without damaging the good day in the process. For distressing, you need to use a thin layer of acrylic/fabric leather paint or any suitable one that is suitable for faux leather. Make sure to always choose the paint, with the highest quality, as low quality will quickly burn the leather, as result in damage to the quality of the faux leather. 

Note: Make sure to always use a thin layer, rather than thick layers, as a thick layer would result in peeling or cracking of the top layer of the nubuck. 

Note: Before distressing, check the paint on a small part of the nubuck leather. 

Can you Dye Faux Leather

Yes, it is possible to dye a faux leather good, but faux leather is not breathable, and not permeable,  it doesn’t allow water, liquid, or any gas to pass through it. This, to fully dye material, the fuel should be inserted at its core, but faux leather is the exact opposite of this. 

However, it’s still can be dyed, but to absorb the colors in a faux leather good, you have to follow the steps mentioned below, and also this process will a be a lifelong process, as the dye quickly wears off from faux leather. 

Steps On How To Dye Faux Leather

Material Required: Acrylic Paint, Cloth, and alcohol for cleaning

  1. Clean the fabric surface with a wet cloth. If there are stains, you can use vinyl solution or pure alcohol on the fabric to get rid of dust or dirt particles. 
  2. After proper cleaning, the next step is to make sure the leather is fully dried. 
  3. The best choice is to use acrylic paint, to dye the leather, as it offers the best results. If you choose different paints, they might not be as useful,  as there will be tears in the product, due to a lack of flexibility in the paint. Check out the price of acrylic paint on Amazon. 
  4. Now create a mixture of acrylic paint with water. ( the mix should be thin). 
  5. Apply a thin coating of the mixture with a paintbrush. 
  6. Make sure you follow a consistent motion while painting. 
  7. After completing, air dries the faux leather. 

Can You Soften Faux Leather? 

Yes, faux leather can be softened, and requires very little time, as it is less permeable than real leather. 

Steps to Soften Faux Leather:

  • Add a vinyl solution to the water. 
  • Use a cloth, and dip it in the solution. 
  • Start applying a solution to the leather, for a few minutes. 
  • Then remove the excess solution from the fabric. 
  • Air-dry the fabric, which will take 5 minutes. 
  • Repeat the process until you reach the suitable level of softened faux leather. 

Which is easier to Clean: Faux Leather Or Real Leather

Real leather can absorb liquid, which makes it more prone to stains and difficult to clean. In addition, the real leather product requires maintenance, 2 – 4 times annually. 

The procedure to clean real leather is hard, time-consuming, and appropriate material should be used to avoid damaging the leather ( strong detergent or strong cleaners should not be used). 

In contrast, Faux leather is very easy to clean, as it doesn’t absorb any type of liquid. Even if you spill something, like ketchup on your faux leather shoes, or handbags, you will need a few steps to wipe the stain completely. 

Steps to clean Faux leather

  • Use wet clothes to wipe dirt or small stains from the leather. If stains are huge, add a detergent to the stain and start rubbing on it. 
  • You can use hand wash or machine wash, it depends on your comfort. 
  • Always use cold water while washing the faux leather, hot water causes the leather to lose its structure, and sometimes even melts a few areas of the fabric. 
  • If the machine washes, turn the handbag inside out. 
  • Always air dry faux leather, and it takes approximately 24-30 hours to fully dry. 
Hi, gurbi is a fashion blogger, designer, and fashion consultant. He is 25 yrs old man who love the world of fashion.