Vegan Leather VS. Genuine Leather: All in One Spot

If you’ve shopped for leather goods, such as handbags, shoes, or clothes, you’ve probably noticed the variety of leathers available to you. It is difficult to tell the difference between these leathers or know what type of leather is.

When shopping for leather products, you’ll likely come across two main types of leather: genuine leather and vegan leather. Knowing the difference between these two types of leather will help you decide which is better for you.

In this article, you will find answers to your questions about them.

Vegan Leather

black vegan leather

What is vegan leather?

Vegan leather is an imitation leather that looks and feels like real leather but contains no animal skins, hence the name “vegan”.

Vegan leather is also known as faux leather, synthetic leather, faux leather, imitation leather, alternative leather, artificial leather, pleather, and more. All names will be used interchangeably in this article.

How vegan leather is made?

The most common way to make vegan leather is to put some chemical material on a fabric backing, most of which are polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Some vegan leather is made from recycled plastic or natural plants, such as pineapple leaves, apple peels, or cork.

Is vegan leather plastic?

Yes, we can say that vegan leather is plastic because most vegan leather is made of PU or PVC.

What does vegan leather smell like?

Vegan leather smells a special gasoline smell because PVC or PU contains petroleum components, and some people call this smell “fishy”. To remove these odors, just put the artificial leather products in a ventilated place and let them stand for 3-4 days to remove more than 90% of the odors.

How long does vegan leather last? Is it durable?

The lifespan of vegan leather is about 1.5-2.5 years, or 3-5 years if well kept.

Considering it’s much cheaper than genuine leather, we think it’s durable.

Does vegan leather look cheap? Does vegan leather look like genuine leather? Is vegan leather worth buying?

Not all vegan leather looks cheap. With the continuous advancement of technology, the quality of vegan leather is getting better and better, some are very similar to genuine leather.

So vegan leather is worth buying.

Maintain vegan leather.

  1. Keep away from fire.
  2. Keep away from sharp objects.
  3. Keep it dry and don’t put it in a humid environment for a long time.
  4. Don’t squeeze.
  5. Do not stack dark and light-colored products together.

Will vegan leather peel?

Vegan leather generally does not peel during its useful life, but it will peel past its useful life.

Can vegan leather be repaired?

Yes. Vegan leather can be repaired or patched. You can buy some faux leather repair kits online, and follow the instructions to repair them. It’s very easy.

Can vegan leather be washed?

Although vegan leather is waterproof, we still don’t recommend washing it. Because the faux leather products will be damaged if they are soaked in water for a long time, and the seams are not waterproof, and water will seep into them from there, thus damaging the imitation leather products.

Can vegan leather be stretched?

Vegan leather, while somewhat stretchy, isn’t as stretchy as real leather, so we wouldn’t recommend stretching it. Because this increases the risk of cracking the vegan leather, thus damaging it.

Can vegan leather be recycled?

Currently, vegan leather cannot be recycled. However, biodegradable vegan leather has been produced and sold for many years with a greatly reduced environmental impact.

In addition, there are some vegan leathers on the market that are made from recycled materials, such as RPET materials, which are reprocessed into vegan leathers with minimal impact on the environment.

Does vegan leather fade?

Vegan leather will fade slightly over time, but not extensively or severely. Because the quality requirements of vegan leather are very high, dry rubbing is greater than or equal to level 4, and wet rubbing is greater than or equal to level 3.

Can vegan leather be dyed?

Vegan leather can be dyed, but we don’t recommend it if you’re not a professional. Dyeing is irreversible, and the material used for dyeing may be seriously faded, affecting use.

Vegan leather environmental impact: earth’s friend or foe?

It is undeniable that when PU or PVC first came out, it did have a great impact on the environment: it is non-degradable, emits harmful gases, and contains toxic substances that have a major impact on human health, such as dioxins and phthalates.

However, with the continuation of the industrial revolution and the improvement of the level of science and technology, most of the harmful substances in vegan leather have been removed, and the emission of harmful gases has been reduced to an unprecedented level.

Coupled with the increasing maturity of biodegradable technology, vegan leather has been developed to unprecedented heights, and its impact on the planet is getting smaller and smaller.

At present, most vegan leather has greatly exceeded the environmental protection requirements of EU REACH and California 65 Prop, and the harm to human health is no longer as good as a few cigarettes.

What should I do if I am allergic to vegan leather?

The best thing to do is not to choose vegan leather products, but to use genuine leather products.

Vegan leather use

Vegan leather is widely used such as handbags, clothes, gloves, earrings, chairs, car seat covers, etc.

Where to buy vegan leather?

Shiling Town, Guangzhou, China has one of the largest vegan leather sales markets in the world, where you can buy different kinds of vegan leather.

If you need it, we, Uncle Nine Leather, can purchase vegan leather for you in the market and export them to designated countries.

Can vegan leather be tailored?

Yes. Vegan leather can be customized upon request. You can order different colors, patterns, or logos according to your needs. Feel free to discuss this with your supplier, the MOQ is usually not very high.

What is the HS code for vegan leather?

5903 is the commonly used 4-digit HS code for vegan leather, and 590320 is the commonly used 6-digit HS code. Each country may be slightly different, please consult your supplier or local customs for details.

Click and learn more about Vegan Leather HS code.

Which designers use vegan leather?

According to their official websites, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Tommy Hilfiger use vegan leather (which they might call faux leather) in their handbags, clothes, and shoes. So, we think that lot of designer brands are also using vegan leather.

Genuine Leather

brown genuine leather

What is genuine leather? real leather? natural leather?

Genuine leather is made by tanning animal skin in a special way, also known as real leather and natural leather.

What are the grades of genuine leather?

Generally speaking, genuine leather can be divided into two grades: the first layer leather (or top layer leather) and the second layer leather (or split leather).

Split leather is a type of genuine leather and is an umbrella term used to describe the second and sometimes third cut of the leather.

Of course, the quality of split leather is not as good as the first-layer leather. You can think of it as cheaper leather.

How genuine leather is made? Is genuine leather made from animals?

The workers firstly process the animal hide briefly, then tan it with hexavalent chromium (Cr6), and finally process the animal hide by coloring, polishing, printing, embossing, etc., forming the genuine leather with different patterns and colors that we see.

In addition to using Cr6 for tanning, an older and more environmentally friendly method is to use plants, such as bark, leaves, fruit peels, etc. to tan animal hides. Unfortunately, this method is so inefficient and costly that less than 20% of genuine leather on the market is processed through this method of tanning.

There is no doubt that genuine leather comes from animal hides. We must kill them and skin them. This is a very cruel process.

Common animal skins include cattle, buffalo, goat, snake, crocodile, and lizard skins.

How long does genuine leather last? Is genuine leather durable?

Genuine leather is very durable and with proper maintenance, its lifespan can reach more than ten years, or even longer.

Is top-grain leather real?

Of course, top-grain leather is real, which is just another word for top-layer leather.

Will genuine leather burn?

Genuine leather has heat-resistant and fire-resistant properties. That’s not to say genuine leather won’t burn out after prolonged exposure to flame, it just won’t melt as quickly as faux leather.

Will genuine leather peel?

Genuine leather will not peel but can be damaged if not cared for properly. Typically, peeling indicates that the polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coating on the faux leather has delaminated.

Is genuine leather waterproof? Can genuine leather be washed?

Genuine leather is not waterproof, let alone washed, otherwise, it will be damaged. So please don’t put the real leather product in a humid environment for a long time.

Maintain genuine leather.

  1. Keep away from moisture.
  2. Keep away from sources of fire or heat.
  3. Clean it regularly with a dry soft brush or cloth.
  4. Stay in a cool and ventilated place.
  5. Get it professionally cared for every 3-4 months.

Can vegans buy genuine leather goods?

If you are vegan, we strongly recommend that you choose vegan leather goods, but not real leather goods.



Through the above questions and answers, we have gained some knowledge about vegan leather and genuine leather.

So, which one is better? Let’s check.

Vegan leather vs genuine leather, which one is better?

 Vegan leatherGenuine leatherWho Win?
Animals CrueltyNo. All materials are not from animals.Yes. It has to kill animals and skin them.Vegan leather
Lifespan1.5 to 2.5 years.More than 10 years.Genuine leather
PriceMediumHighVegan leather
PerformanceWaterproof: good Fire resistance: bad Stretchability: badWaterproof: bad
Fire resistance: good
Stretchability: good
Genuine leather
Environmentally friendlyContains harmful substances and gases, degradableThe genuine leather itself is harmless and biodegradable.
However, a large part of the hexavalent chromium (Cr6) used in the leather tanning process is discarded as liquid or solid waste, which is very harmful to the environment and human beings.

By comparison, we cannot simply say that vegan leather is better than genuine leather or vice versa. It depends!

For example, replacing a vegan leather item every few years tends to have a greater environmental impact than buying a genuine leather item and using it for years.

So, the answer to the vegan leather vs. genuine leather debate depends on how the product was produced, how you use it, and what is most important to you personally.

From an ethical standpoint, vegan leather is a more logical choice than genuine leather. It is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

From a sustainability standpoint:

  • When choosing genuine leather, choose vegetable tanned, not hexavalent-tanned, and use it for years to come.
  • If you choose vegan leather, leather made from plants is the first choice, followed by PU, and consider degradability. Try not to choose PVC.

The amazing news is that plant-based leather has already been created. It is made of plants, can be completely degraded, and has zero pollution to the environment.

As this technology continues to evolve, we believe that the vegan leather vs. genuine leather debate will be settled for good shortly.

Click and learn about plant-based leather.

We, Uncle Nine Leather, are a professional handbag manufacturer providing one-stop service. Located in Shiling town, we offer a wide range of vegan leather or genuine leather handbags and backpacks to our customers. Small MOQ and fast delivery time. Welcome your inquiry and cooperate with us.


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