How to Tell if Something Is Real Leather: An Easy Guide

Published March 16, 2021
Real leather how to tell

You can discover how to tell if something is real leather. A few quick tips can help you distinguish between faux leather instead of real leather.

How to Tell if Something Is Real Leather

Your sense of smell is the first way to tell if something is real leather. The leather scent has a memorable and very unique smell. The smell of leather is earthy and pleasant. It isn't an overwhelming smell, but it is one you'll instantly recognize after the first time you smell it. Some people report that real leather has a sweet undertone scent, while others describe it as having an old oak aroma.

Faux Leather vs. Real Leather

In addition to your sense of smell, your sense of sight can aid you in determining if your bag is faux leather or real leather. The different types of leather can help you determine if the bag you're considering is real leather. For example, a purse advertised as full grain leather should have visible pores. Since full grain leather is an animal hide, these pores will be readily recognizable. Some full grain leather hides will also have hair follicles; these are usually visible when using a magnifying glass.

Customer with leather bag

Other Types of Leather

Not all leather bags are full grain leather or have visible pores. However, imperfections are common in many leather finishes. There are other ways you can tell if a bag is authentic leather when you employ another sense.

Difference Between Real and Faux Leather

Your sense of touch can assist you in determining the authenticity of a leather bag. When you compare real leather and faux leather, you'll notice that both materials can be soft, coarse, or textured. However, the texture of real leather is grainy in comparison to the sleek plastic perfect look of faux leather.

Grain Consistency of Real Leather

Another way you can compare real leather to faux leather is the grain of the hide. A real leather bag will have a random grain pattern. A faux leather bag will have a consistent grain from the pattern imprinted onto it. This pattern uniformity is a giveaway that you are examining a faux leather bag. Many real leather bags will often have imperfections, discolorations, and other types of blemishes. Faux leather has no blemishes or imperfections since it is manufactured and not tanned leather.

Flexibility of Real Leather

If you're having difficulty distinguishing real leather from faux leather, you want to test how flexible the bag material is. Real leather is very flexible and can be slightly stretched. If you hold the walls of the purse and tug on them, the leather will give slightly. However, faux leather isn't flexible. There will be no give in the material when you gently pull on the walls of a faux leather purse. This is one more telltale sign you can cross off your list when determining if a handbag is real leather or faux leather.

Warmth of Real Leather

Faux leather is cool to the touch. In comparison, real leather will feel slightly warmer. Under the right conditions, such as exposure to sunlight or a heat source, leather will absorb heat since it is a natural material. Faux leather cannot absorb heat, only reflect it.

Bag Label

The most obvious way to determine if a purse is real leather or faux leather is the label. If the handbag label states man-made materials, you can be assured that the bag is not leather. When you examine a real leather handbag, you will usually find the label identifies it as real leather. Manufacturers of real leather purses want to advertise the true value of their product so customers will know the bag they are purchasing is authentic leather.

Woman in shop looking at leather bag

Conduct a Thorough Examination of Handbag

If the purse doesn't have a label, then the handbag can easily be a faux leather. However, you should thoroughly examine the purse for the various differences between a real leather bag and a faux leather bag.

Price Tag of Real Leather

Another way that is usually a good test for faux leather vs real leather is the price tag. Real leather is a far more expensive product than faux leather. If the bag you are browsing has a very inexpensive price tag that seems too good to be true, it most likely is faux leather.

How to Tell if Something Is Real Leather

You can learn how to tell if something is real leather by following an easy guide to examine and test the material. Each test you conduct can either authenticate or discredit the handbag as real leather.

How to Tell if Something Is Real Leather: An Easy Guide