When you go shopping for leather goods, do you ever wonder if you are looking at authentic leather? For the most part, real leather can be easily identified. However, I was rather dumbfounded recently when one of my customers at my trade show event, exclaimed “those can’t be real leather purses, nobody has products with real leather anymore. I can’t believe that it is real!” The experience inspired me to write an educational piece about leather.
It’s no secret that a lot of leather hides/products which are imported by various retailers from around the world are quite often very low quality. As well, unfortunately, there are some rather shady retailers who are selling synthetic leather goods as authentic. Italian leather goods are not easily sourced today as so many retailers are opting for cheaply sourced leather to make higher profit margins. Make no mistake about it, Italian leather products are best in the world and no one can compete with the quality of their leather goods.
Below you find some tips on how you can determine if a leather product is real or faux:
- If you are interested in a retail product and you have no idea if the product is real, one of the simplest methods to support this endeavor is to ask for help from a sales clerk. They are usually very knowledgeable, and they should know whether the product is real or faux. As well look at the product tags. For example, most Italian leather goods will have their products embossed with “Made in Italy” or tags that read “100% Authentic Italian Leather.” Make sure to look for any product labels and tags that indicate genuine leather descriptors.
- Although, it may not always be practical in a store (😊) you can conduct a water test on leather. If you drop of small drop of water on real leather it will be absorbed in seconds because real leather absorbs moisture. However, if it is fake, the water won’t be absorbed.
- Each piece of leather will have its own unique features and it will showcase slight imperfections. Any “leather” that appears too uniform/perfect, may be an indicator to inspect the product more closely.
- On any authentic leather product produced, you should be able to find an inside edge of the product and it should look not appear perfect. For example, check inside a purse for an imperfect edge (where a seam may not be sewn). If you find an open seam on a leather product and it is perfectly straight, this may be an indicator that the leather hide is not authentic and you should continue with some further investigation.
- If the price of your leather product appears too good to be true, it is likely that it is not genuine leather.
- Conduct the “sniff test.” Genuine leather has a distinct smell. If it smells more like chemicals as opposed to a natural aroma, it is unlikely that it is leather.
- Authentic leather is typically easy to bend and is flexible. Faux leather is much more rigid and has a “plastic” texture.
- Conduct the “press test.” Press on the piece of leather to see if it wrinkles. Faux leather will remain rigid and continue to hold its shape when you press on it.
- Extremely thin leather is not an indicator that a product is fake, but it is an indicator that the product may be very low quality and could potentially tear very easily. Although this leather may initially seem okay, make sure to very slightly stretch a small area of the product (if possible), to see if it will continue to hold its shape. There are some areas in the Florence, Italian leather market that deliberately sell poor quality products, knowing that people will not figure out how bad their product are until they return from their vacation. I recently watched a video of a poor woman spending hundreds of dollars on a coat, only to find when she wore it one time, it completely ripped in half!
I hope this article will help you with your shopping endeavors and it has armed you with some effective tips to spot real and faux leather. Rest assured that all of Belmore Boutique’s leather goods are made from 100% authentic, high quality, Italian leather. Stay tuned for my next journal entry about why Italian artisans have the best leather materials and are the best leather makers in the world.