Real Leather Vs Genuine Leather Vs Faux Vegan Leather Upholstery: A Comprehensive Guide

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When it comes to choosing upholstery for your furniture, the wide variety of options available can be overwhelming. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in sustainable and animal-friendly materials, leading to the rise in popularity of faux vegan leather. However, traditional leather options such as real leather and genuine leather still hold their own in terms of durability and elegance. In this article, we will explore the key differences between real leather, genuine leather, and faux vegan leather upholstery to help you make an informed decision for your furniture.

What is Real Leather?

Real leather, also known as full-grain leather, is the highest quality leather available. It is made from the top layer of the animal hide, which is the most durable and strong part. Real leather retains the natural markings and imperfections of the animal, giving it a unique and authentic appearance. Due to its superior quality, real leather is long-lasting and develops a beautiful patina over time, making it a favorite choice for high-end furniture.

What is Genuine Leather?

Genuine leather is a term that is often misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, genuine leather is not the highest quality leather. It is made from the remaining layers of the hide after the top layer has been removed for real leather. While genuine leather is still made from real animal hide, it is less durable and prone to wear and tear. It lacks the natural markings and unique characteristics of real leather, resulting in a more uniform and less luxurious appearance.

What is Faux Vegan Leather?

Faux vegan leather, also known as synthetic leather or pleather, is a man-made material designed to mimic the look and feel of real leather. It is typically made from a combination of plastic and fabric, with polyurethane being the most common choice. Faux vegan leather is cruelty-free and does not involve the use of animal products. It offers a more affordable alternative to real leather, while still providing a similar aesthetic appeal.

Key Differences

1. Durability

Real leather is known for its exceptional durability and longevity. It can withstand years of use without showing significant signs of wear and tear. Genuine leather, on the other hand, is less durable and may require more frequent maintenance and care. Faux vegan leather, although not as durable as real leather, can still offer good longevity with proper care.

2. Appearance

Real leather has a natural and luxurious appearance that is hard to replicate. Its unique markings and patina give it a timeless and sophisticated look. Genuine leather has a more uniform appearance and lacks the character of real leather. Faux vegan leather can mimic the appearance of real leather to some extent, but it may lack the same level of authenticity.

3. Price

Real leather is the most expensive option due to its high quality and durability. Genuine leather is relatively more affordable but still falls within the mid-range price bracket. Faux vegan leather is the most budget-friendly option, making it a popular choice for those on a tighter budget.

4. Maintenance

Real leather requires regular maintenance to keep it looking its best. It needs to be cleaned and conditioned with specialized leather care products to prevent drying and cracking. Genuine leather also requires similar maintenance but may not be as demanding as real leather. Faux vegan leather is relatively low-maintenance and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth.

5. Sustainability

Faux vegan leather is the most sustainable option as it does not involve the use of animal products. It reduces the demand for animal hide and helps protect animal rights. Real leather and genuine leather, being made from animal hide, have a larger environmental impact due to the processes involved in their production.


Choosing the right upholstery for your furniture is a decision that depends on your personal preferences, budget, and ethical considerations. Real leather offers unmatched durability and a timeless appeal, while genuine leather provides a more affordable option with a slightly lower quality. Faux vegan leather, on the other hand, is a sustainable and budget-friendly alternative that closely resembles the look and feel of real leather. Consider your priorities and make an informed decision to find the perfect upholstery for your furniture.

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