How to Buy Faux Leather

Three Methods:Selecting a High-Quality Faux Leather ItemPurchasing Faux Leather by the YardDistinguishing Faux Leather from Real Leather

Faux leather is a synthetic polyurethane fabric, which is created to mimic genuine leather. Faux leather is commonly used for upholstery, bags, jackets, and other accessories that get a lot of use. Faux leather can be an inexpensive, fashionable, and vegan-friendly alternative to real leather.

Method 1
Selecting a High-Quality Faux Leather Item

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    Decide to purchase a faux leather item. Leather is beautiful and fashionable for both furniture and clothing. There are several benefits to choosing faux leather for your body or home.[1]
    • Faux leather is less expensive.
    • Faux leather is easier to maintain.
    • Faux leather is vegan-friendly.
    • Some faux leather items are made to be indistinguishable from the genuine article.
    • Other faux leather items play up their artificiality for a bold and funky effect.
    • Some negative aspects include: faux leather is not breathable, it doesn’t look quite as nice, it does not age as well as real leather, it may not be biodegradable.
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    Look for good texture. When choosing a quality faux leather item, the first feature you should look for is texture. Genuine leather has a grainy texture, and so do high-quality fakes. Whether you are going for a realistic or more outlandish look, avoid an overly smooth surface. This can be indicative of lower quality.[2]
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    Choose your colors. When it comes to faux leather items, the sky is the limit regarding color. Bright colors, funky patterns, imitation animal skin looks, and natural blacks and brown are all available in faux items.[3]
    • Basic black or brown faux leathers will be more likely to pass as the real thing.
    • Bright bold colors, funky patterns, or metallic finishes will give off a dramatic effect.[4]
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    Compare the level of “sheen.” Faux leather items will range from very shiny to very matte, and everywhere in between.[5] To choose a real-looking faux item, select something with a little less sheen. True leather is not shiny, but matte. Alternatively, go for a trendy look by choosing high-gloss patent leather.
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    Select items with mixed materials. Whether you are going for realistic or bold appeal, items that mix faux leather with other materials (like wool or cotton) can be great choices. Clothing items (like jackets with faux leather patches) or furniture pieces that integrate multiple materials give off an organic feel. The contrast between materials often gives the faux leather a genuine look.[6]

Method 2
Purchasing Faux Leather by the Yard

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    Decide what type of faux leather you would like. If you are choosing your leather based on a certain type of real leather, then try to decide the color scheme and pattern you would like. Research examples of names, colors, and patterns.[7]
    • Faux leather fabric is available in styles that mimic a number of animal hides, such as ostrich, reptile, calf, bison, gator, or pigskin.
    • Patterns, such as tooling, are common to faux leather fabric. Choose floral designs, paisley designs, cowboy motifs, symbol designs or a woven look as alternative textures.
    • Faux leather also comes in a few different finishes. You can choose shiny, pearl or metallic finishes. Micro-suede is a type of faux leather that is prized for its finish.
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    Determine the amount of faux leather you need. Before you purchase faux leather, you will need figure out exactly how much you will need. This will enable you to accurately price your project in advance. An average sofa will require around 16 yards, while a typical loveseat will need approximately 11.
    • As a precaution, always purchase just a little bit more than the minimum needed. [8]
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    Visit a fabric store. Depending on the particular store, craft or fabric store may have anywhere from 5 to 20 different faux leather options, available by the yard. A craft or fabric store is the best choice if you want to touch and examine faux leather options before buying. Shop around at a few different stores to find the best product and price.
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    Shop online. Shopping online will give you the widest variety of options in terms of both selection and quantity. The major disadvantage of buying online is that you cannot actually see or touch the product. Additionally, depending on the size of your order, the shipping costs may be high.
    • An online upholstery fabric outlet will have large quantities of upholstery fabric in different colors, patterns, and finishes.
    • Search for eco-friendly faux leather options.
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    Shop at interior design outlets or conferences. If you are an interior decorator or designer, you may qualify for discounts from certain retailers. Attend an interior designers conference or search for online retailers that offer discounts for designers. Speak to other designers to ascertain tips and industry bargains.[9]

Method 3
Distinguishing Faux Leather from Real Leather

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    Read the label. Though it may seem obvious, reading the label on an item is a sure fire way to identify the type of leather. Products made of real leather will proudly say so on the label. If the label says, "vinyl" or "manmade materials," the item is faux.[10]
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    Inspect the edge. Examine the edges of the furniture or garment. Look at any place where the material has been sewn. Fake leather products will have a smooth, pristine edge that can feel almost plastic. Genuine leather will have a rougher, imperfect look around the edges.[11]
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    Examine pores. Take a close look at the pores (or small dots) of the fabric. You may have to look closely to see them. Faux leather will have pores in a perfect, consistent pattern. Real leather will have irregular, sporadically placed pores.
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    Trust your touch. Genuine leather can feel coarse, smooth, or somewhere in-between. Real leather is also flexible and soft. If the product in question feels very smooth or feels like plastic, it is probably faux leather. Synthetic leather can also be a bit stretchy.[12]
    • Familiarize yourself with leather textures by visiting a reputable leather store and getting a feel for both products.
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    Smell the item. Real leather has a very distinct smell. It really cannot by replicated by faux materials.[13] Real leather smells earthy. Faux leather may have no odor, or smell a bit like plastic.
    • Once again, you can familiarize yourself by visiting a reputable leather store and getting a smell of both kinds of products.


  • Faux leather is easy to care for because you can simply wipe it off if you get dirty.
  • If you are interested in faux leather furniture, many furniture store can reupholster with the fabric you choose.
  • Online retailers are the best source for eco-friendly, vegan leather options.

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Categories: Purchasing | Fabric and Clothing Decoration