Is Leather Covered Fabric Considered Real Leather

Are you wondering if leather covered fabric is truly real leather?

In this article, we will explore the definition of real leather and the difference between leather and leather covered fabric.

By understanding the characteristics of real leather and considering the pros and cons of leather covered fabric, you will be able to make an informed decision.

We will also provide tips on how to identify real leather, ensuring you are well-equipped to determine whether leather covered fabric meets your standards.

The Definition of Real Leather

Real leather is defined as a material made from animal hides. It has a long history, dating back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Mesopotamia, where it was used for clothing, shelter, and even armor. Leather production has evolved over time, with advancements in tanning techniques and machinery.

However, the process of producing leather has a significant environmental impact. The history of leather production shows that it has always been a valuable and versatile material. It has been used for various purposes throughout the ages, from clothing and accessories to furniture and car upholstery. The demand for leather continues to grow, leading to increased production and its associated environmental consequences.

The environmental impact of leather production is significant. The process involves the use of chemicals, such as chromium salts, which can be harmful to the environment if not properly managed. Additionally, the disposal of waste generated during the tanning process can contribute to water pollution. The raising of animals for leather production also requires large amounts of land, water, and feed, leading to deforestation, water scarcity, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

The Difference Between Leather and Leather Covered Fabric

Although leather covered fabric may have a similar appearance, it is not the same as genuine leather. Here are four reasons why leather alternatives, such as leather covered fabric, may not match the durability and longevity of real leather:

  1. Quality: Genuine leather is made from animal hides that undergo a tanning process, resulting in a material that is strong, flexible, and resistant to wear and tear. Leather covered fabric, on the other hand, is typically made by adhering a layer of fabric to a synthetic leather-like material, which may not offer the same level of quality.

  2. Breathability: Real leather is a natural material that allows air to pass through, keeping you comfortable even in warm weather. Leather covered fabric, however, may not provide the same level of breathability, leading to discomfort and sweatiness.

  3. Aging: Genuine leather develops a beautiful patina over time, enhancing its appearance and character. Leather covered fabric, on the other hand, may not age as gracefully and may show signs of wear and tear more quickly.

  4. Longevity: With proper care, genuine leather products can last for decades, becoming heirloom pieces that can be passed down through generations. Leather covered fabric may not have the same longevity and may require more frequent replacement.

While leather covered fabric may be a more affordable alternative, it may not provide the same durability and longevity as genuine leather.

Understanding Leather Covered Fabric

When choosing a material for your furniture, it’s important to understand the characteristics and limitations of leather covered fabric. Leather covered fabric, also known as leatherette or faux leather, is a popular alternative to genuine leather. It is made by bonding a layer of polyurethane or vinyl to a fabric backing, giving it the appearance of leather. While it may not have the same luxurious feel or aging process as genuine leather, it does offer some advantages.

One of the main advantages of leather covered fabric is its durability. It is resistant to stains, scratches, and fading, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas or households with children and pets. Additionally, it is easier to clean and maintain compared to genuine leather. A simple wipe with a damp cloth is usually enough to remove any spills or dirt.

However, it’s important to note that leather covered fabric is not as breathable as genuine leather. It can trap heat and moisture, leading to discomfort, especially in warmer climates. It also lacks the natural patina and aging characteristics that genuine leather develops over time.

To help you understand the differences between leather covered fabric and genuine leather, here is a comparison table:

Characteristic Leather Covered Fabric Genuine Leather
Durability High High
Breathability Low High
Aging Process None Develops patina
Maintenance Easy Requires upkeep
Cost Affordable Expensive

Exploring the Characteristics of Real Leather

If you’re looking for a material that ages beautifully and has a natural patina, genuine leather is the perfect choice. Here are some characteristics and properties of real leather that make it a sought-after material:

  • Durability: Leather is known for its strength and durability, making it a long-lasting material that can withstand daily wear and tear.
  • Breathability: Unlike synthetic materials, leather allows air to pass through, making it comfortable to wear in all seasons.
  • Flexibility: Leather has a unique ability to stretch and mold to your body over time, providing a custom fit and enhanced comfort.
  • Natural variations: Each piece of leather has its own natural markings and grain patterns, making it a unique and distinctive material.

These properties make genuine leather a popular choice for a variety of products, including clothing, footwear, accessories, and upholstery.

It’s important to note that not all leather products are created equal, as there are different types and grades of leather available. Full-grain leather, for example, is considered the highest quality and retains the natural characteristics of the hide. Top-grain leather, on the other hand, has been sanded or buffed to remove imperfections.

Pros and Cons of Leather Covered Fabric

One advantage of using leather covered fabric is its durability, as it can withstand daily wear and tear. Leather covered fabric combines the luxurious look and feel of leather with the practicality and affordability of fabric. It offers a range of benefits, but it also has its downsides.

One of the main pros of leather covered fabric is its durability. This material is designed to last, making it perfect for high-traffic areas such as living rooms or offices. It can withstand spills, scratches, and fading, making it a great choice for families with children or pets. Additionally, leather covered fabric is relatively easy to clean and maintain. Regular dusting and occasional spot cleaning are usually sufficient to keep it looking fresh and new.

However, there are also some cons to consider. Leather covered fabric may not have the same luxurious look and feel as genuine leather. While it can imitate the appearance, it lacks the natural patina and aging process that real leather develops over time. Additionally, leather covered fabric may not be as breathable or comfortable as genuine leather, as it is often made with synthetic materials.

How to Identify Real Leather

When trying to identify real leather, there are several key points to consider.

First, examine the texture and smell of the material. Real leather will have a unique grainy texture and a distinct, earthy smell.

Additionally, look for natural grain patterns on the surface of the leather, as these are a telltale sign of authenticity.

Texture and Smell

You can easily tell if the leather is genuine by feeling its texture and smelling its distinct scent.

Genuine leather has a unique texture that is both smooth and slightly grainy. When you run your fingers across it, you can feel the natural imperfections and variations in the surface. It should not feel too smooth or synthetic.

Additionally, genuine leather has a distinct smell that is often described as a rich, earthy aroma. This scent comes from the tanning process and cannot be replicated in synthetic materials.

If the leather you are examining does not have these characteristics, it is likely not genuine.

Texture analysis and scent evaluation are reliable methods to determine the authenticity of leather products.

Natural Grain Patterns

The natural grain patterns of genuine leather create a unique and distinct look. When it comes to leather, the texture is one of its defining characteristics. The natural texture of leather is rich and varied, with each piece exhibiting its own unique pattern. This natural texture adds to the beauty and appeal of leather products.

In addition to its aesthetic qualities, leather is also known for its durability and longevity. Here are four reasons why leather is a durable and long-lasting material:

  1. Leather is resistant to wear and tear, making it less likely to show signs of aging or damage.
  2. Leather is a strong material that can withstand everyday use and remain intact.
  3. Leather has natural oils that help to maintain its flexibility and prevent cracking or splitting.
  4. Leather can be easily repaired, allowing it to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Overall, the natural grain patterns of genuine leather, along with its durability and longevity, make it a popular choice for various products, from furniture to accessories.

Burning Test Method

To determine the authenticity of a material, simply perform the burning test method.

When testing for the burn, remember that genuine leather will not catch fire easily and will only emit a smell similar to burnt hair or skin.

If the material catches fire quickly and smells like plastic or chemicals, it is likely an alternative material.

This burn test is a reliable way to differentiate between real leather and imitation materials such as bonded leather or leather-covered fabric.

Bonded leather, for instance, is made by gluing leather scraps onto a fabric backing, while leather-covered fabric is a fabric material coated with a thin layer of leather.

Making an Informed Decision: Choosing Between Leather and Leather Covered Fabric

When deciding between leather and leather-covered fabric, it’s important to make an informed decision. Here are three key factors to consider:

  • Durability: Leather is known for its durability and longevity. It can withstand wear and tear, making it a great choice for furniture and accessories that will be used frequently. On the other hand, leather-covered fabric may not be as durable and may show signs of wear more quickly.

  • Maintenance: Leather requires regular maintenance to keep it looking its best. It may need to be conditioned and cleaned periodically to prevent drying out and cracking. Leather-covered fabric, on the other hand, may be easier to maintain and clean, as it can often be machine washed or spot cleaned.

  • Choosing alternatives: If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option or have ethical concerns about using real leather, leather-covered fabric can be a good alternative. It can mimic the look and feel of leather while offering a more affordable and sustainable choice.

Ultimately, the decision between leather and leather-covered fabric depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as durability, maintenance, and alternatives to make the best choice for your situation.


In conclusion, leather covered fabric is not considered real leather. While it may have a similar appearance, it is important to understand the differences between the two.

Real leather is made from animal hides and has unique characteristics such as durability and natural imperfections. Leather covered fabric, on the other hand, is a synthetic material that is coated with a layer of synthetic leather. It may offer a more affordable alternative, but it lacks the authenticity and quality of real leather.

When making a decision, it is crucial to consider your preferences and needs.