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WHAT IS FAUX LEATHER?

By Bob Morgan, Regional Sales

Posted on January 04 2016

Coalition LA Polyurethane Vegan Leather
Faux Leather re-imagines and re-embodies our historical use of animal hides and skins with modern materials ranging from flexible fabric to plastic to paper. It addresses the moral and economic limitations of genuine leather.

Certainly, there are huge differences in the cost and physical properties of genuine leather and faux leather. This does not mean one is better than the other. What is important is knowing what you are getting, or what you are not getting.

To this end, a quick primer on the two primary types of faux leather construction PU and PVC may be instructive.


Polyurethane or (“PU”)
Initial development began in the late 1950’s and it has improved decade by decade until today. PU it is the most realistic imitation of genuine leather. Its touch and overall appearance are almost indistinguishable from real leather. When stitched, gathered or tufted it actually “breaks” or wrinkles like real leather. Because there are no plasticizers used in its fabrication there is no cracking or peeling, and it remains soft and supple. PU leather has microfiber pores, allowing it to “breathe” while remaining easy to clean and maintain.

It is made by coating a backing fabric such as cotton, polyester or shredded leather with a flexible polymer and then treating it to look more like animal hide. Because PU resins are made of a softer polymer it doesn’t require additional plasticizers (see PVC below).


Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC – “Vinyl”)
PVC has been produced in the United States since the 1940s and was used initially for products such as shoes, automobile interiors and upholstery. It has no “hair follicles” or “pores” and is virtually waterproof. It tends to be unbreathable in hot temperatures.

It is made by covering a natural or synthetic backing material with vinyl made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plasticizers. It may crack over time due to the use of the plasticizers.

If you are budget-conscious, PU leather is a great substitute for the real thing. It is the best animal hide-free alternative to real leather. It is more versatile, less expensive and celebrated as animal-friendly,

Be sure to look for my next article on the advantages and disadvantages of real and faux leather.
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