PU Leather vs Genuine Leather

What is the Difference?

With so many materials out there, it's hard to keep track of what’s what. In the realm of shoes and accessories, you’ve probably seen the terms genuine leather and PU leather before, but do you know the difference? Both are distinct materials with various pros and cons. Read below for the full breakdown, where we make it easy to understand so you can choose the best product for you.

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What is PU Leather?

PU leather, full-name polyurethane leather, is a synthetic leather imitation. You may also find it under names such as faux leather or vegan leather. PU leather is made of thermoplastic polymer, so it doesn’t come from animals.

Pros

  • Affordable
    PU leather is easier to manufacture, which means PU leather shoes, bags, and accessories cost less than their genuine leather counterparts.
  • Easy to Clean
    Unlike genuine leather, PU leather does not absorb water, which means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain.
  • Low Maintenance
    As opposed to genuine leather, PU leather does not dry out, which means you do not have to condition it regularly with leather creams, waxes, or polishes.

Cons

  • Less Durable
    PU leather can wear and crack over time, making it less durable than genuine leather. Unlike genuine leather, it can also get punctured and torn, so be careful of sharp or abrasive surfaces.
  • Not Breathable
    Since PU leather is not a natural material, it does not breathe as genuine leather does.
  • Does Not Soften Over Time
    Being a skin, genuine leather becomes softer with prolonged wear. PU leather is synthetic and thus does not alter in texture or shape.

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What is Genuine Leather?

Genuine leather is animal hide. While most leather is derived from cowhide, any animal skin textile is considered leather.

Pros

  • Durable
    When properly maintained, genuine leather can last a lifetime. It’s incredibly resistant to everyday wear and subtle imperfections in the grain are part of its charm.
  • Softens with Use
    Genuine leather only looks better with time. The skin will soften the more you use it, giving older leather a suppleness that’s impossible to replicate.
  • Moulds to Fit
    Since leather is a skin, it will stretch with use. This is a significant advantage with leather footwear, as your shoes will gradually mould around the shape of your foot for a one-of-a-kind fit.

Cons

  • Costs More
    Genuine leather comes with a higher price tag.
  • Requires Regular Maintenance
    Genuine leather products require regular maintenance to maintain their durability and finish. Periodic conditioning and polishing can go a long way to keep leather looking its best.
  • Not Waterproof
    Genuine leather will absorb water, which can make it a little higher maintenance than other materials. Proper conditioning and waterproofing waxes can help with this, but it’s still best to keep leather products away from water and direct heat.

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Which Leather is Right for You?

The leather that is right for you depends on the product you’re looking for, how you intend to use it, and your budget. There are many high-quality PU leather products available for those who may not want to spend as much on shoes, belts, or other accessories. If regular maintenance isn’t appealing to you, a high-quality PU leather material is an excellent substitute. If you’re looking for something more durable that will last multiple seasons, investing in a genuine leather product, and caring for it properly, will mean that you can enjoy it for years to come.

 

Check out our latest fall arrivals for high-quality genuine leather and PU leather accessories to complete your seasonal wardrobe.

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