What is PU leather? Pros and Cons for a Leather Alternative

Written by José Max Lin
Last updated
July 29, 2022

There are many types of artificial leather, including PU leather.

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It can be hard to determine the difference between real leather and fake leather when sourcing leather. Some people may be looking for real leather, but others may want to take the cheaper route and go with artificial leather.

What is PU Leather?

PU leather is the most common artificial leather type, but what is it? This leather, also known as polyurethane leather, is an artificial leather made of thermoplastic polymer. It is mostly used to make handbags, furniture, shoes, etc.

100% PU leather is artificial and is considered vegan. There are some types of artificial leather, like bi-cast leather, that uses genuine leather but puts a layer of polyurethane over it. This type of artificial leather uses the fibrous parts of cowhide leftover from making genuine leather and then puts a layer of polyurethane over it.

PU Leather can also go by a few different names. When looking at tags, you may see things such as:

  • Bi-cast Leather
  • Split Leather
  • Bonded Leather
  • Reconstituted Leather
  • Corrected Grain Leather
Real leather vs. PU leather

Manufacturing Process

The manufacture of pu leather often involves the use of a variety of chemicals and petroleum products. The entire process can be broken down into four simple steps:

1. Starting with the base fabric
2. Application of polyurethane coating
3. Coloring it by adding an extra layer of color
4. Final texture for finish gets added

Pros & Cons of PU Leather

If you are indecisive about using artificial leather over genuine leather, you may want to know at first the pros and cons of artificial leather.

The Pros:

Starting with the pros, PU leather:

  • cost less and is easy to manufacture.
  • better for sustainability.
  • does not absorb water and is easy to clean.
  • 100% PU leather is a vegan alternative.
  • Variety of colors and styles.
  • Does not dry out over time.
  • Uses fewer resources to make.

The Cons:

PU leather also comes with a list of cons:

  • Can look fake and synthetic.
  • Is not breathable as genuine leather.
  • Can smell of chemicals and plastic.
  • Wears over time and can crack.
  • Puncture or tear easier than genuine leather.
  • No lustre or patina as real leather.
  • Not all PU Leathers are vegan, as some contain genuine leathers in them.
  • Plastics do not decompose.

Differences between PU Leather and Real Leather

If you are indecisive about using artificial leather over genuine leather, you may want to know at first the pros and cons of artificial leather.

The main difference you'll find is going to be the cost. PU leather is cheaper than genuine leather as it is easier to produce.

PU leather will also have a distinct smell to it. Fake leathers will smell like plastic or chemicals, which genuine leather does not.

Doing a water test is another easy way to determine whether it is real or fake leather. While doing the water test isn't typically advised on products you don't own, genuine leather will absorb the water, while fake leather will not.

If you are aware of these materials and have a keen eye, you may be able to notice the difference between both materials just by looking at them.

Conclusion

For a less expensive option, something vegan that comes in various colors, PU leather will be a great option for your business. If you are looking for real leather, this artificial leather will be something you'll want to avoid. There are numerous ways to tell the differences between genuine leather and fake leather to help you buy the handbag.

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 PU leather? Pros and Cons for a Leather Alternative

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