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What is Bonded Leather? A Genuine Leather Alternative

Written by José Max Lin
Last updated
June 20, 2022

When it comes to leather handbags, there is a lot of confusion about the available types of leather. Faux leather, genuine leather, and even bonded leather are all common terms, but what do they mean? Below, we'll take a closer look at some of the key characteristics of bonded leather.

What is bonded leather?

Bonded leather, also called reconstituted leather or blended leather, is a synthetic leather material made from lower-quality scraps that are shredded and combined with adhesives. It is a strong, durable, and flexible material used for various purposes, including handbags, furniture, clothing, and accessories.

So, is bonded leather real or fake? It is real because it is made from real leather, but it is not 100% pure leather (not more than 20% of real leather). Although the addition of polyurethane or a mix of other synthetics means that it does not meet the definition of pure or natural leather, bonded leather still has the appearance and smell of real leather.

bonded leather in china

Bonded leather VS Genuine leather

While it shares some similarities with genuine leather (also known as full-grain leather, the highest quality leather), there are also some important differences that you should be aware of before making a purchase.

  • Bonded leather is not as durable or long-lasting as genuine leather. It is also not as breathable, which means it can trap heat and moisture, making it uncomfortable to use in hot weather or for people who tend to sweat a lot.
  • Bonded leather also has a more synthetic appearance than genuine leather. It can be difficult to clean and is not as repairable if it becomes damaged.
  • Bonded handbags are less expensive than leather, so they're ideal for budget businesses.
bonded leather vs genuine leather

Bonded leather VS Faux leather

Many people are confused about the difference between bonded leather and faux leather when it comes to leather goods. Both are eco-friendly, but the first one is made from recycled leather waste that is shredded and reconstituted with adhesive. Unlike bonded leather, faux leather is an animal-friendly alternative made from PVC or polyurethane. As bonded leathers are a more sustainable option than synthetic faux leathers, there is quite a substantial difference in the price.

How durable are bonded leather handbags?

Due to the manufacturing process, bonded leather isn't so durable. With proper care and usage, handbags of this material can last from 2 to 3 years.

Does bonded leather crack and peel?

Yes! Bonded leather can crack and peel over time, especially if it is not properly cared for. Keep your bag out of direct sunlight for long periods and use leather conditioner regularly. If you notice cracks or peeling, leather fillers (known as leather repair kits) can help. However, if this does not solve the problem, you can visit a professional to get it repaired.

leather crack peel

Advantages of bonded leather

The main advantage of bonded leather is its price. This material costs significantly less than genuine leather, making it a budget-friendly option. Additionally, this type of leather is easier to work with than other types of leather. It's also resistant to stretching and tearing, making it a good choice for upholstery and other projects that require a durable material.

Bonded leather also has several aesthetic advantages. It can be dyed to achieve almost any color, and it takes stains and finishes well. This allows manufacturers to create a wide range of products in different colors and styles. Additionally, this type of leather has a smooth surface that feels pleasant to the touch.

Disadvantages of bonded leather

The most obvious disadvantage of owning a bonded leather handbag is its poor durability. Unlike full-grain or top-grain leather, which is exceptionally durable, this leather is made from lower-quality scraps of leather glued together. As a result, bonded leather handbags are much more likely to suffer from flaking, cracking, and peeling. In addition, they can be very difficult to repair if they become damaged.

Another disadvantage of bonded leather handbags is that you don't know what you are getting when purchasing one. The quality of this leather can vary greatly from one leather goods manufacturer to the next, so it can be hard to tell how long your handbag will last. In general, it's best to avoid bonded leather handbags altogether and opt for a bag made from full-grain or top-grain leather instead.

How to care for bonded leather handbags?

If you own a bonded leather handbag, you can do a few things to extend its lifespan.

  • Avoid exposing your bag to excessive sunlight or heat, as this can cause the leather to dry out and crack. If it does get wet, dry it off as soon as possible with a soft cloth.
  • Keep your bag away from water whenever possible, and if it does get wet, dry it off immediately with a soft cloth.
  • Use a mild leather cleaner or leather conditioner instead of harsh chemicals or cleaners on your bag to help keep it hydrated and prevent cracking. With proper care, your bonded leather handbag should last for several years.
handbag caring

Bottom line

Overall, if you are looking for vegan leather, bonded leather is a good choice for people looking for a budget-friendly alternative to genuine leather. However, it's important to remember that this material is not as durable or long-lasting as real leather. Additionally, bonded leather can be difficult to clean and is not as repairable if it becomes damaged.

Leather comes in many different varieties and styles. Knowing the differences between them can help you find the perfect type of leather for your needs!

HANDBAGIO product specialist
José Max Lin
I am product specialist and content marketing specialist for Handbagio. If you want to wholesale vegan handbags or vegan related products, feel free to ask me any questions.
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What is Bonded Leather? A Genuine Leather Alternative
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