Leather vs. Leatherette

What's the Difference?

Leather and leatherette are both materials commonly used in the production of various products, particularly in the fashion and upholstery industries. Leather is a natural material made from the hide of animals, typically cows. It is known for its durability, softness, and luxurious appearance. On the other hand, leatherette, also known as faux leather or synthetic leather, is a man-made material that imitates the look and feel of genuine leather. It is typically made from a combination of fabric and plastic, offering a more affordable and animal-friendly alternative to leather. While leatherette may not possess the same level of durability and authenticity as genuine leather, it still provides a similar aesthetic appeal and can be a practical choice for those seeking a more budget-friendly option.


MaterialGenuine animal hideSynthetic material
AppearanceNatural grain and textureUniform and consistent
MaintenanceRequires regular careEasy to clean
Environmental ImpactAnimal farming and processingLess impact, synthetic production

Further Detail


When it comes to choosing the right material for upholstery, leather and leatherette are two popular options that often come to mind. Both materials have their own unique attributes and offer distinct advantages. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of leather and leatherette, exploring their durability, appearance, maintenance, cost, and environmental impact. By understanding the differences between these materials, you can make an informed decision when selecting the perfect upholstery for your needs.


Leather, known for its exceptional durability, is a natural material made from animal hides. It is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it a long-lasting choice for upholstery. Leatherette, on the other hand, is a synthetic material typically made from a combination of fabric and plastic. While leatherette can be durable, it generally does not match the longevity of genuine leather. Over time, leatherette may show signs of cracking or peeling, especially in high-use areas. Therefore, if durability is a top priority, leather is the superior choice.


Leather exudes a timeless and luxurious appeal. Its natural grain patterns and unique markings give each piece of leather upholstery a distinct character. As leather ages, it develops a beautiful patina, enhancing its aesthetic appeal. On the other hand, leatherette is designed to mimic the look of leather but lacks the natural variations and depth of genuine leather. While leatherette can still provide an attractive appearance, it may not possess the same level of sophistication and authenticity as real leather.


When it comes to maintenance, leather requires more care compared to leatherette. Leather should be regularly cleaned and conditioned to keep it supple and prevent it from drying out. Spills should be promptly wiped off to avoid staining. Leatherette, on the other hand, is relatively low maintenance. It can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth and does not require conditioning. However, it is important to note that leatherette may be more prone to scratches and tears compared to leather, which can be a consideration for households with pets or young children.


Cost is often a significant factor when choosing upholstery materials. Leather, being a premium natural material, tends to be more expensive than leatherette. The cost of leather can vary depending on the type of leather used, such as full-grain, top-grain, or bonded leather. Leatherette, being a synthetic material, is generally more affordable. It provides a cost-effective alternative for those seeking the look of leather without the higher price tag. If budget is a concern, leatherette can be a suitable option.

Environmental Impact

Considering the environmental impact of upholstery materials is becoming increasingly important. Leather, being a natural material, has a relatively higher environmental impact compared to leatherette. The production of leather involves the use of chemicals and energy-intensive processes. Additionally, the livestock industry, which supplies the hides for leather production, has its own environmental concerns. On the other hand, leatherette, being a synthetic material, is typically made from recycled materials or petroleum-based products. While it may not be completely eco-friendly, it can be a more sustainable choice compared to leather.


Choosing between leather and leatherette ultimately depends on your priorities and preferences. Leather offers exceptional durability, a luxurious appearance, and a natural feel, but it requires more maintenance and comes at a higher cost. Leatherette, on the other hand, provides a more affordable option with lower maintenance requirements, although it may lack the same level of authenticity and longevity as genuine leather. Considering the environmental impact is also crucial, with leatherette being a potentially more sustainable choice. By weighing these attributes, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and values.

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