We often hear about "Faux leather" and "Vegan leather", but what is the difference with Genuine (Real) leather? what distinguishes the various types? Let's find out together.
Difference between Faux Leather and Genuine Leather
Genuine leather has unique and inimitable characteristics: for this reason even the most famous luxury brands, nowadays extremely attentive to environmental sustainability, choose to use it instead of other materials defined as "eco" but which in reality are not. This concept also applies to most everyday objects: since genuine leather has unique and long-lasting qualities and is in the vast majority of cases the material to be preferred. The main advantages of genuine leather that distinguish it from imitation leather or eco-leather are:
- High resistance: genuine leather has greater resistance than other materials which tend to deteriorate over time.
- Breathability: unlike rubber or plastic, genuine leather is breathable, it lets air pass like fabric, so it is more comfortable to use or to wear.
- Water repellency: thanks to some processes, the leather can be resistant to water, while remaining breathable.
- It does not age: the more time passes, the more genuine leather acquires unique and inimitable characteristics.
- It is thermal insulating: genuine leather insulates more from both cold and heat than other types of material.
- It is hygienic
It is recycled material: animals are not killed for their skin: sheep, pigs and cattle are raised for food needs, not using the skin would mean making their sacrifice in vain. For this reason, using genuine leather helps the environment by reducing waste from the food industry and at the same time ennobling the sacrifice of these animals.
- It is beautiful: genuine leather has a different charm and feel than objects made with alternative materials.
- It is ecological or Bio: genuine leather can be defined as follows, especially in the case of vegetable tanned leather, since substances are used that are not harmful to humans and the environment that have a very low environmental impact and in some cases close to zero.
Faux leather, also called "eco-leather", does not have any element of animal origin or organic origin as it is an industrial product made entirely of plastic materials (i.e. PVC, such as polyurethane, hence the name of "PU or PVC Leather ") on which prints are printed or plastic films are applied in order to reproduce the look and feel of real leather.
There are different types of faux leather or faux leather, based on the materials and production processes used you can get results that differ from a qualitative point of view, so you can find a better fake leather than others, but when it comes to characteristics, eco-leather can never reach quality or excel in comparison with genuine leather.
Faux leather, in fact, can last for several years, but over time it will still tend to deteriorate, creating creases or scratches; on the contrary, real leather will tend to improve over time and become more unique and beautiful, especially when the product is based on vegetable tanning. Genuine leather ages but hardly gets damaged!
In conclusion, the main disadvantages of faux leather or faux leather are:
- It is not eco-sustainable, as it is produced with plastic materials deriving from the petroleum industry.
- It is not breathable.
- It is less comfortable.
The only advantage over genuine leather is usually that it is a cheaper material, which therefore costs less, but at the expense of the environment.
What is Vegan Leather? Difference with Genuine Leather
The so-called "vegan leather" deserves a separate paragraph, as it is considered an alternative material to the use of products of animal origin, but compared to imitation leather or eco-leather it has different characteristics.
Some leathers are called "vegan", as they are produced using materials such as cork, algae, leaves or other compounds of an organic nature. The production process of vegan leather does not negatively affect the environment but the materials obtained have very important limits of use and quality compared to genuine leather which we can summarize in the following points:
- Poor strength and durability, vegan leather lasts much less than real leather.
- Poor workability and versatility, vegan leather is only suitable for the production of certain objects.
- High production costs, even though vegan leather is a recycled material, it can cost more than one square meter compared to real leather.
- Poor quality and feel, vegan leather is not comparable to real leather from a qualitative point of view.
- It is not zero impact, that is, it is not 100% sustainable, as means and machinery that have fossil fuels as their energy source are often used for its production.
Difference between Vegan Leather and Faux Leather
More and more often, however, we erroneously hear about "vegan leather" and "eco-leather" or "faux leather" as if they were the same thing even if they are not. As already mentioned, eco-leather or faux leather is made with plastic materials, which, while not using products of animal origin, have a strong impact on the environment, since plastic products deriving from petroleum and therefore highly polluting for the production are used. our planet. Vegan leather, on the other hand, is produced only with materials of organic origin (not animal), for this reason it is more sustainable and pollutes less, but it has numerous and important limitations compared to real leather, first of all the fact that it is not impact resistant. zero environmental.
Conclusions: the false myth of the so-called "Vegan Leathers"
In conclusion, "vegan leather", "faux leather" and "eco-leather" are (in the vast majority of cases) alternative materials to real leather, often confused with each other, which represent a false myth, more polluting and less sustainable then genuine leather. Much better then, if you want to make an ethical and sustainable choice, continue to use real leather (better if vegetable tanned) just like the main luxury and fashion brands are doing.
Genuine Leather: the real eco-sustainable leather
Given that even chrome tanned leathers see most of the pollutants involved in their production cycle, recovered (about 95%) through the cutting-edge systems we have in Tuscany, the most eco-sustainable material is genuine leather (or real leather) vegetable tanned. This is due to several factors, among the main ones we find:
- Use only natural substances.
- It has a low environmental impact.
- The animals of bovine and ovine origin are not raised for their skin, but for the meat, the skin is already in itself a waste material which, if not tanned, would otherwise be disposed of. (This is obviously true both for vegetable tanning and for all other types of tanning).
For this reason, there are no more ecological alternatives to vegetable tanned leather according to European (and Italian) environmental standards, and Italy, from this point of view, represents a world center of excellence in the sector in terms of pollution and sustainability.