It’s no secret genuine leather is a desirable material for a wide variety of products. It’s known for its durability and its attractive appearance. Unfortunately, there are many cheap knock-offs that are meant to imitate the real deal in appearance only. These goods are made from cheap materials that can’t withstand the test of time. As a buyer, it’s important to understand the difference between genuine leather and imitation items – particularly PU leather – so you don’t fall prey to tricky labeling techniques.
PU leather is more artificial than it is genuine. To create this type of material, manufacturers take the fibrous part of the cow hide (the part that’s left over after genuine leather is made) and coat it with a layer of polyurethane. To the untrained eye, this type of material looks just like the real thing. Many unaware shoppers think they’re getting a great deal on a quality product but discover later that they purchased an inferior knock-off. Over time, polyurethane goods reveal their true nature by splitting and peeling. While you may save a few bucks on this type of item up-front, you’ll soon discover the true PU leather meaning is synonymous with “unreliable”.
In many cases, a product’s tag will identify what type of material it’s made from. In the case of polyurethane, there could be several different names listed on the tag. If you see any of the following red flag terms, the product probably isn’t worth buying:
Even if the good is missing a label, there are still ways to spot a fake. First, take a close look at the grain of the material. If it’s too perfect and has an unnatural sheen, it’s probably fake. Next, smell the item. If it carries an aroma of chemicals and/or plastic, you’re probably dealing with a polyurethane leather product. If you’ve already purchased a cheap knock-off without realizing it, you’ll be able to identify it soon enough by its very short lifespan. PU material wears down very quickly and you’ll soon see the fabric beneath it peeking through the cracks. The polyurethane will eventually start to flake or peel off and you’ll be left with an ugly, worn-out product that looks nothing like real leather.
Now that you know how to spot a counterfeit, what should you look for when purchasing quality leather products? Here’s a few tips you can follow to avoid being fooled whether you’re shopping for a new sofa or a long-lasting wallet:
Authentic goods are generally much more expensive than their synthetic counterparts because they are extremely durable and valuable. If you see an item that’s marketed as real leather but is priced way too low, be wary and do everything you can to confirm its authenticity before you purchase it.
Is it really worth the extra money to purchase an authentic item over the many counterfeit options out there? What exactly are the benefits of purchasing genuine goods? Besides their exceptional durability, here are a few of the reasons most people prefer the real deal over cheaper faux options:
In addition to these benefits, you can have peace of mind that your genuine products aren’t full of eco-damaging chemicals like their cheaper counterparts.
Once you invest in a quality leather product, you can usually expect it to last many years (perhaps even for the rest of your life!) as long as you take good care of it. Keep your item clean by gently wiping it down with a soft, damp cloth on a regular basis. Avoid using cleansers and soaps, as these can potentially dry out the material and change its color. Use a special moisturizer or conditioner as needed to restore shine and keep your item from cracking and drying out. Once a year, use a waterproofing wax or spray to protect your item from the elements.
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