PU leather, in simple terms, is an artificial leather that is generally used for making shoes, clothing, furniture, and other products. Also known as polyurethane leather, PU leather is made of thermoplastic polymer, and is completely artificial, and therefore it is classified as vegan, as opposed to its authentic counterpart.
PU leather can also be combined with real leather in order to create double-cast leather. Here a divided base of real leather is covered with a base of PU leather, however this means that the finished product is no longer considered vegan leather, and therefore vegan customers will be much less likely to purchase products made from this leather.
PU leather is commonly known simply as artificial leather, however there are many other names for it, such as bicast leather, split leather, bonded leather, reconstituted leather, and corrected grain leather. While products sold in stores and clothing outlets may have one or many of these names labelled on their products, they all effectively mean the product is made of PU leather, and not real leather.
Essentially, PU leather is an inferior alternative to real leather that customers may choose to purchase for many reasons, such as price, convenience, or simply the fact that it is vegan friendly.
Curious about real leather bags? Check out our carefully curated, premium quality collection.
Pros and Cons of PU Leather
There are many pros and cons to PU leather, and every customer will have their own personal preference. However, there are areas in which the benefits of PU leather can be seen, and alternatively, there are times when it is clear that real leather is a better choice.
Pros of PU Leather
One of the benefits of PU leather is the cheaper price. PU leather costs less to manufacture, and therefore it is sold for cheaper than real leather. This is a big incentive to purchase PU leather for customers who are willing to sacrifice on quality in order to save on price.
2. Ease of Clean
Another benefit of PU leather is its inability to absorb water. This makes PU leather products much easier to clean and additionally makes it much easier to dry these products when they do become wet.
Arguably the most important pro for PU leather for many customers is the fact that it is vegan. This means that vegan customers will find it acceptable to purchase products made from PU leather, while they may not want to purchase real leather products.
Another benefit of PU leather is the fact that it can be manufactured into a variety of colours and styles. This may add more attraction to PU leather products and make certain items more appealing to consumers.
Cons of PU Leather
1. The Look
One of the most important and visually clear cons of PU leather is that it can often look fake, synthetic, and even tacky. For customers who want to look good and feel confident in a piece of genuine real leather, the PU alternative is simply not an option.
Additionally, another disadvantage of PU leather is that unlike real leather, the PU alternative is not breathable. While a piece of genuine leather will feel light and airy, a product made from PU leather may feel stiff, stuffy, and constricting.
3. The Smell
Another major con of PU leather is the smell it produces. Often after purchasing a product made from PU leather, the customer will find that it has a plastic, or chemical-like smell, and one that can often be difficult to ignore, and in some cases even become overpowering. This is a stark contrast to the fresh, mild, and pleasant smell that comes from a product that is made from real, authentic leather.
4. Wears Out Easily
In addition to this, PU leather is also known to wear quite easily over time. While some products may not dry out, PU leather can crack, which will make it look unattractive and will put many customers off from wearing it. This essentially means that PU leather simply does not last as long as real leather, and hence if you are looking for a piece of leather that will withstand the test of time, then a piece of real, authentic leather is the right choice for you.
5. The Quality
Similarly, PU leather is simply unable to compete with the quality offered by real leather. While PU leather can easily tear or puncture, this is almost impossible with real leather. This is a simple example of the different levels of quality the two types of leather have, and it is clear to see that there is a huge gap in quality between the safety and reliability of real leather and the flimsy nature of the PU leather.
6. No Patina Development
Another major drawback when it comes to PU leather is the lack of the development of patina over time. The patina refers to the beautifully weathered look that appears on a piece of real leather after a period of time. This is a major element of the attractiveness of leather and is something that reflects the hard work and time it takes to produce a beautiful piece of real leather. This is something that is not seen in PU leather, as it does not develop over time the same way real leather does, and hence it is incredibly difficult for any piece of PU leather to match the beauty and visual appeal of a high-quality piece of real leather.
7. Environmental Impact
PU leather products are also not as eco-friendly as they may appear. Although these products may use fewer resources to manufacture and produce, they take much longer to decompose, and hence they are in actuality more harmful to the environment than real leather products.
PU Leather vs Faux Leather
The main difference between PU leather and faux leather is that PU leather is made entirely of polyurethane plastic, while faux leather is made up of a number of elements. These include wax, dye, and polyvinyl chloride, which, when combined create a fabric that mirrors the premium quality of real leather. Note that both types of leather are considered fake leather and not an effective substitute for real leather.
PU Leather vs Bonded Leather
Bonded leather refers to a mixture of both real leather and artificial or synthetic, PU leather. When manufacturing bonded leather, leftover pieces of real leather are combined with a polyurethane binder, before being bonded onto a paper backing. While this can give the finished product a more authentic look and feel, as well as making it of a higher quality than purely PU leather, it does mean that the product may not be deemed suitable for vegan customers due to the element of real leather included.
Additionally, bonded leather will not have anywhere near the same durability or lifetime as real leather.
PU Leather vs Real Leather
Here at The Real Leather Company, you might not be surprised to find out that we're big fans of real leather. We do really believe that when it comes to choosing between PU leather and real leather, there is only really one winner. Real leather is a much better choice for so many reasons.
In terms of quality, real leather is simply far greater than PU leather. Real leather is more durable, will last longer, and is much better equipped to withstand the test of time. In terms of visual appearance, real leather is also the clear winner. Over time, real leather develops a patina, or a weathered look that adds greatly to the attractiveness of the leather, while this does not happen with PU leather.
Why we Recommend Full Grain and Top Grain Leather for Bags
There are many reasons why we recommend customers to go for full grain and top grain leather when shopping for leather bags.
Firstly, full grain leather is highly strong and durable. This means that when buying a bag made from full grain leather, you are guaranteed that this bag will withstand the test of time.
Additionally, top grain leather has the high-quality, premium appearance that every customer looks for when purchasing a leather bag. Not only will a full grain leather bag do everything it is designed to do, but it will also look exceptional for years to come.
Our Favourite Real Leather Goods This Year
Here, we've broken the list down into our top three:
1. The Daily
The Daily is a high-quality, brown leather satchel sold by The Real Leather Company. The beauty of this bag is seen in its versatility. Whether you are a fresh-faced student looking to take on whatever the world has to throw at you, or an established businessman looking to take your work to the next level, this bag has everything you need. With its rugged yet sleek look, in combination with its practical and comfortable design, this is truly the only bag you need.
2. The Pilot
Living up to its name, the pilot will truly allow you to fly through your days and soar through any work you need to do in the most cool and casual way possible. Made from top grain water buffalo leather, this beautiful bag from The Real Leather Company is not only second to none in terms of quality, but it also looks spectacular and comes with four exterior pockets for easy access to anything you need throughout the day.
3. The Bifold
Every man needs a high-quality wallet made from real, genuine leather, and the Bifold is exactly that, and so much more. Not only does the slim design and ultra-premium leather make this product look exceptional, but it also does everything you could ask for from a wallet. With nine cardholder slots, an additional clear pocket for your ID, two inside left and right pockets, and two full width pockets at the top, this wallet truly has it all.
Feel like you just need a quality leather bag now? Check out our full collection of real leather bags.