I recently went shopping with my hubby and by touching a shoe I had a strong suspicion that it was in fact genuine leather. He challenged me and I was right 🙂 Because a woman is always right! Lol, just kidding, or not 😉 Jokes aside, there are ways to tell besides just reading the label.
Although leather comes in many different forms, I believe that when you say real leather, you are asking about the full-grain leather that has not been sanded, split, nor treated with any special compounds (not including the tanning process) that would detract from it’s original thickness, strength, or durability. As long as one cares for this leather, it will last a lifetime.
PU leather is split leather that has been overlaid with a polyurethane (PU) coating. It is used on furniture and in apparel. PU leather is cheaper to make and has a nice-looking finish, but is not as durable, strong nor thick as full-grain leather.
Breathability is one of the main benefits of purchasing full grain leather according to John Robertson (Veganline.com). He explains, as with raincoats, a non-breathable material keeps evaporated sweat inside, so the wearer gets damp. The sweat would otherwise evaporate in its warmer parts leaving cooler parts behind. It cannot; the wearer becomes hot as well as damp. If the PU leather is PU all the way through, or a thick layer of PU on canvas, then it’s probably fine for upholstery and wallets but no good for jackets and shoe uppers. Better to use microfibre, for comfort and all sorts of other reasons. If the PU leather is a thin film of PU over leather, then some films are breathable and others not.
In my online store, http://www.kitibella.co.za, you will find both PU and full-grain options and even a combination whereby the lining is leather but the upper not. The price is a big indicator. Personally, I wear both PU and genuine leather however if you’re looking for an everyday shoe then it’s best to go for durability, hence invest in full-grain leather. In the end, there’s a benefit to both. PU is more cost effective. Leather is more durable. You can look equally stunning in either one.
- John Robertson, Veganline.com