Genuine leather or synthetic leather?

Genuine leather or synthetic leather?

Leder oder Kunstleder für die Liebesschaukel

Our upholstery pad in synthetic leather

The respective advantages of leather and synthetic leather

In the meanwhile, the materials used for syntheticleather have developed to such an extent that the two materials have long since become visually indistinguishable from each other.

Gone are the days when you could tell from three meters away that a leather (or at least one of it’s components) was a plastic compound. In the meantime, artificial leather manufacturers have also succeeded in deceptively reproducing the natural grain structure of genuine leather.

But even if there is no longer any visible difference: which is better? Where are the differences?

Advantages of leather

Unlike synthetic leather, genuine leather has a much better reputation and is considered a high-quality and luxurious material. This can be especially important for items such as fashion or furniture, which are also often purchased for prestige.

One of the biggest advantages of leather, it is said, is its longevity and durability. With good care, leather products should last for decades and often even become more beautiful with age. At the same time, it is tear-resistant, robust and abrasion is low. That is why the comparatively high purchase costs can be more favorable in the long term than alternatives with artificial leather.

It should be noted, however, that modern microfiber leather with good quality can now not only compete with that of genuine leather, but real leather is even behind in terms of sensitivity to stains, scratches, etc. here.

Leather is more resistant to fire, while synthetic leather is relatively early flammable. Artificial leather would not survive a cigarette burn so well, and you can set it on fire with a standard lighter. With real leather, on the other hand, even a Bunsen burner comes up against its limits: even in the highest temperature ranges, it glows at best – but stinks terribly.

Leather can also definitely score points when it comes to breathability and water permeability – these advantages can only be offered by genuine leather (in many areas, however, water impermeability is more desirable, which then speaks more in favor of synthetic leathers).

We are not sure if this is really true in general, but it is said that leather is more skin-friendly and its texture is perceived by many people as more pleasant than artificial leather.

Conclusion: Real leather is definitely valuable, but we see the big advantage of real leather in its nimbus; a kind of magic, luxury and quality as well as naturalness surrounds the leather. Although on the one hand perhaps more durable than synthetic leather, it is also more sensitive and needs to be well cared for so that it does not become brittle and unsightly for as long as possible.

Advantages of synthetic leather

Artificial leather offers several advantages over genuine leather. Especially the robustness of the imitation leather is to be emphasized here – claws, liquids and environmental influences can almost not harm the imitation leather.

Depending on the manufacturing process and the quality of the synthetic leather, it is almost indestructible. It neither changes its shape under strong mechanical impact, nor can it be pierced with normal force – except, of course, with the help of pointed objects. Genuine leather, on the other hand, loses its shape comparatively quickly, gives way under tension and dents when worn on one side.

Synthetic leather is very easy to maintain compared to real leather. This can simply be wiped with a damp cloth or briefly held under the tap.

Therefore, especially in the medical field, examination and treatment furniture is often made of it. Compared to genuine leather, the easy cleaning and the compatibility of chemical disinfectants is an enormous advantage. These would cause the upper color layer of genuine leather to dissolve or become brittle too quickly.

No wonder that motorcycle saddles, saddles of jet skis, which are under extreme stress, are usually made of artificial leather; sun and water would damage the leather too much.

Sensatec: - the artificial leather used by BMW

Sensatec: – the artificial leather used by BMW

The same applies to cars; the automotive industry is probably the largest customer for artificial leather. After all, almost everything in a car can be pimped with imitation leather – whether seat covers, gearshift bags, folding roofs, headliners, steering wheels, dashboards or entire interior trims. Imitation leather is simply used everywhere in cars (very often also in combination with parts made of genuine leather, so that the equipment can still be marketed as “leather”). However, artificial leather is especially preferred over animal leather because of its robustness and ease of processing.

While with genuine leather you have to be careful that it doesn’t mold if there is too much moisture, with faux leather you can be sure that won’t happen.

However, it is often said that imitation leather cannot compete with genuine leather in terms of durability. However, this statement has only been true for the cheapest price segment for years – durability should no longer be an issue with modern and high-quality materials.

Last but not least: Faux leather is better for your karma. Unfortunately, real leather is not a “waste product” of meat production that is produced anyway, as you might think. Also, the processed end product “leather” is by no means an environmentally friendly “natural product”, but quite the opposite, an artificial product with a surprisingly large ethical and ecological “footprint” and highly contaminated with hazardous chemicals.

Here are some more links to the topic:

The Leather Industry

The top 5 myths about animal leather:

Here are five things the global leather industry doesn’t want you to know:

Shocking Abuse in Global Leather Trade:

Leather: Animals Abused And Killed for Their Skins


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