Synthetic vs. Leather: Whats Your Pleather?

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Difference between Synthetic and Leather

Leather is a product made from the hide of animals. The process of creating leather from animal hide is called tanning and there are several techniques that can be employed to generate different looks. Tanning using tannin, this is found in vegetable products and tree bark for example. Chromium and chrome-free tanning are other methods of tanning animal hide.

Synthetic leather is a fabricated product that is created to look like leather, but it is less expensive and is made without the need of animal hide. Pleather is the most common type of synthetic leather and is made of plastic. Many varieties of pleather have the look and feel of genuine leather.



The cost of real leather is more than just the financial cost. For people with concerns for the ethical treatment of animals, leather is just as outrageous as fur. For this reason, synthetic leather is growing more popular with animal lovers everywhere. In addition, the high environmental costs of the dumping of the by-products of leather productions are making leather even less attractive.

The financial cost of leather is significantly higher than that of synthetic types of leather, but there are so many varieties of pleather, that you might have a hard time telling the difference!


Synthetic leather is easier to care for and can last reasonably long. Leather can last significantly longer than synthetic if cared for properly. When leather products will be exposed to long periods of wet conditions, it is suggested that synthetic products be substituted. Leather can be waterproofed to help reduce the damage of moisture to the leather, but the waterproofing process will need to be repeated regularly.

There are certain varieties of synthetic leathers that can even be sent through a commercial washing machine. Other types of pleather are considered breathable. Polyurethane does allow for some airflow, but PVC does not.


Most people seem to have a preference of leather over synthetic due to the status of owning genuine leather. Vinyl, pleather, and imitation leather all seem to have a negative connotation in some people's mind and it strikes them as a cheap alternative to real leather.

Due to the worry of environmentalist and animal protection groups, pleather-type products are growing in popularity. Many applications of synthetic leather are employed because of the worry of animal cruelty as well as because of the dangers of leather production waste.

Similarities and Differences

  • Synthetic leather is a worthy option for many products that were previously only available in genuine leather. For instance, massage chairs are typically covered in pleather-type fabric because the rollers actually work better with pleather than leather. Pleather also retains the heat from the heating mechanism, which helps increase the relaxation factor of the person using the chair.
  • While people will always have a personal preference, there are so many options in the synthetic leather market that consumers would be hard pressed to be able to tell the difference between the two. There are even vegan leather products available that look remarkably similar to actual leather products.

Which one is warmer?
  • Synthetic
  • Leather

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