Do you know what is the difference between genuine leather and imitation leather?

How to tell real leather from faux leather

First, let’s take a deeper look at each material;


Leatherette is artificial leather or synthetic leather intended to replicate the look of natural leather. Commonly called vegan leather, more and more big brands are using this term, to have an eco-responsible and animal cruelty-free conscience. Admit that it's much more chic and "in" than the term imitation leather!

That said, is vegan leather eco-friendly and good for the planet? There is indeed a lot of controversy on this subject. Made of polyurethane (commonly called PU) or PVC, vegan leather is made from chemical reactions between various polyols and diisocyanates, both derived from petroleum chemistry. Its durability is also very ephemeral.

Our goal is not to start another controversy, but rather to highlight these two subjects and help you differentiate them.


Let's take a closer look at natural leather. There are several types of genuine leather, there are the high quality leathers, such as full grain aniline leather. In fact, a leather hide contains several layers, much like human skin. The outer layer, which is also called "full grain", is the high quality part of the leather. It is the noblest part of the hide and is easy to maintain. On the other hand, the lower layer is of lesser quality and not very expensive, it is called "the leather crust". It is used to make suede or suede leather, often used to make work gloves, sports shoes, furniture, etc.

Since prehistoric times, skins and furs have been used to make items such as clothing, blankets and bags; they are also used to cover furniture, books, etc.

Nowadays, the most commonly used animal skins on the market are cow, beef, sheep and pig skins. It would be a shame to throw away the skins of these animals that we consume... So why not recover them? Genuine leather is also naturally waterproof and becomes softer and more comfortable over time.

Cowhide is the most frequently used leather, especially because of its strength and ease of tanning; ideal for the manufacture of handbags, clothing and shoes.

Now, let's see how to differentiate them

Here are some tips:

1- The smell

Real leather
has a particular natural musky smell while fake leather has no smell or a chemical smell of plastic.

2- The appearance

Real leather
is smooth, porous and supple, unlike vegan leather (imitation leather), which is textured, grained and more rigid. Imperfections on the leather indicate that it is real leather, while imitation leather has uniform and regular grains, which indicates that the material has been machine-made. Remember that real leather is made from animal skins, so each piece is unique and may have imperfections.

3- Touch

If you bend real leather, it will quickly regain its shape unlike fake leather which will keep the mark of the fold. Real leather is also thicker, about 1.1 mm thick versus fake leather which is often thinner.

Real leather
is warm to the touch while synthetic leather is cooler.

4- Test

Another tip: if the leather crumbles or the varnish comes off when you scratch it, it is most likely a fake leather.

5- Price

Real leather is generally more expensive. Vegan leather is often more affordable and less ecological due to its short life span. Because of its low durability, it tends to crack and tear much more easily.

I hope this will help you recognize real leather from the real thing.

Elizabeth black genuine leather work bag by Quebec designer Annick Levesque.

See the Genuine leather handbags Annick Levesque

Annick Levesque Accessories offers a wide selection of handbags, backpacks, crossbody bags, travel bags and wallets made of high quality genuine leather. Smart bags for women that are stylish, functional and timeless.