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Friend or Faux? How to Tell if That Leather is Real or Not

Thinking leather might be better? Keep in mind it’s not all created equal. The difference in quality between genuine, bonded, and flat-out fake leather is huge, and there are some easy tricks to spotting the good stuff.

1. Labels: The Very Best Place to Start

OK, duh. But the label is going to say more than just “real” or “fake!" Here are some terms you might see:

  • Genuine: This basically means it’s the real thing. Genuine leather may be labeled with the following terms to describe how it’s been processed or treated.

  • Pure Aniline: The most natural of genuine leathers: no treatments, dyes or pigments here.

  • Semi-Aniline: Dyed and treated with a topcoat, this leather will exhibit some natural markings but is more durable than pure aniline genuine leather.

  • Pigmented: Super-durable, pigmented genuine leather is usually dyed, buffed to erase any imperfections, and given a topcoat for heavy protection.

  • Nubuck & Suede: You’re probably familiar with both, but what’s the difference? Nubuck is genuine leather that has been buffed on the outer (more durable) side of the hide for a fuzzy feel. Suede is the opposite—the inside of the hide is buffed, resulting in a superfine, velvety texture. READ MORE

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