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How to distinguish genuine leather from synthetic: tips for choosing footwear

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Footwear made from genuine leather typically lasts longer

Even though manufacturers have learned how to produce relatively high-quality artificial leather, it still falls short in terms of durability and resilience compared to natural leather. That's why we often prefer to purchase shoes made of genuine leather - they will last longer and wear better.

But how can you differentiate between natural and artificial leather? OBOZREVATEL has gathered a few life hacks that even professionals use.

Do a touch test

Genuine leather is typically soft, slightly elastic, and grainy to the touch. Artificial material differs from this. So, hold the product in your hand. Natural material will gradually warm up evenly and cool down slowly, whereas artificial leather will feel cold, plastic-like, and won't stretch. 

Smell the material

Genuine leather has a distinct odor, often described as earthy, woody, oaky, or simply like leather, whereas faux leather does not. Cheap synthetic material may smell like plastic or have a chemical scent, while high-quality faux leather will have no odor at all.

Check the grain

Genuine leather always has a rough surface texture with bumps and pores on the surface that feel pleasant to the touch. A substitute will always be smoother, even if it mimics the natural texture very well.

Try the open-flame test

Not every store will allow you to conduct such a test, and you need to use fire very carefully, but it will definitively show whether the leather is genuine or not. Hold a match or lighter in an inconspicuous place close to the material for 5-10 seconds. If it catches fire or emits a chemical odor, you're dealing with a fake. Genuine leather will char and smell like burnt hair.

Pay attention to the edges

Since faux leather is made by machine, it has perfectly smooth edges and a neat finish. A cut of genuine leather will have irregularities and may look rather rough. In addition, the cut will be homogeneous and will not be divided into layers.

Conduct a bend test

Since artificial leather is stiffer than natural leather, they bend differently. Natural material bends quite easily, wrinkles naturally, and changes color slightly when folded.

Apply a little water to the surface

Genuine leather absorbs moisture, while artificial leather does not. Therefore, apply a few drops to the surface of the material. Even if treated with a water-repellent agent, genuine leather will absorb a small amount of water, while on artificial leather, it will simply form a droplet.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL provided information on how to distinguish real photos from images generated by artificial intelligence.

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