Expert advice


Real leather is a strong, flexible and durable material obtained from the tanning or chemical treatment, of animal skins and hides to prevent decay. The most common leathers come from cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, pigs and hogs, and aquatic animals such as seals and alligators.

Faux leather (also referred to as leatherette or vegan leather) is artificial or synthetic leather.

There are three primary types of faux leather: Polyurethane (PU), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and Silicone.

These leathers are used in making clothing, upholstery and product covers but each is better for certain applications than others.

PU leather which is the most realistic imitation to genuine leather in regards to surface feel and overall appearance. PU leather is softer, more flexible and breathable hence commonly used for making high-wear products such as clothing and furniture upholstery that come into direct contact with the skin.

PVC or Vinyl leather is not breathable as PU leather therefore it is ideal for products that need to repel moisture such as book bindings or cases for electronic devices. 

Silicone which is the newest innovation of the three leather constructions and is suitable for virtually any application since it possesses the advantages offered by both PU and vinyl. It is also the most environmentally friendly in terms of production process.


  1. Economical – Faux leather is typically cheaper than real leather
  2. Durability – High quality faux leather is very durable and will last a long time, it can also withstand scratches and scrapes that would mar genuine leather. It is also not prone to cracks like real leather and does not fade easily in UV light.
  3. Low maintenance – Faux leather is stain resistant and easy to wipe with a rag and warm water. Also, unlike real leather it does not retain moisture therefore will not become warped or cracked
  4. Fashion – vegan leather can easily be printed on, providing an enormous variety of textures and patterns. In addition, it is easier to cut and sew than genuine leather and needle marks are usually less noticeable as the threads blend seamlessly with faux leather.


Vegan leather has a lot more variance than real leather. Some vegan leather is high quality and durable, however this comes at a high price. The cheaper variant does not last as long and cracks after a few years of use.

Faux leather does not age as well as real leather. Genuine leather develops an attractive luster or patina over time. 

Faux leather is not puncture proof or tear resistant like real leather.


  1. For real leather look for tags that say, real leather, genuine leather, top/full grain leather or made from animal products. If it is labelled “man-made material” it is definitely synthetic leather. But if it doesn’t say anything at all, chances are good the manufacturer wants to conceal the fact that it isn’t real leather. Of course, used goods may have lost their tags
  2. Check the surface grain, the little “pebbles” and pores, for imperfections and uniqueness that signal genuine leather.
  3. Press into the leather looking for color change and wrinkles, real leather will wrinkle and change color slightly while faux leather will just depress down under your finger, retaining rigidity and shape upon release.
  4. Smell the leather. Real leather has a natural musty smell while synthetic leather has plastic-like smell. If you’re still unsure about the smell you can hold a flame up to a small hard-to-see area of the leather product for 5-10 seconds. Genuine leather will char slightly and smell like burnt hair while synthetic leather will actually catch the flame and smells like burnt plastic  
  5. Drop a small amount of water on the leather. Real leather will absorb the water droplets in a few seconds, fake leather will simply puddle up on top.

About Victoria Furnitures

Victoria Furnitures Ltd is one of the leading suppliers of high quality furniture in East Africa. We are a pioneer in the industry offering the market greater choice, innovative and ergonomic designs as well as environmentally friendly furniture.