Real Leather vs. Faux Leather: 4 ways to tell the difference

Real Leather vs. Faux Leather: 4 ways to tell the difference


How do I tell real leather bag from a fake?  The truth is it’s getting harder and harder to tell with the new imitations.  That is, until you’ve owned the bag for a short time and the fake one begins to stretch, crack, flake and come apart.  Then you know for sure! 

Here are a few things that will help determine whether a bag is fake or real leather at the time of purchase.  These rules can also apply to belts, jackets, furniture, or anything else leather.

  1. Smell. Real leather should have a distinct smell.  It is hard to describe unless you are familiar with it, but I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like the smell.  Imitations are plastic and petroleum based and would likely not have a noticeable smell.
  2. Back and edges of the leather. It is easy to tell from the back of the leather because imitation leather has a fabric back and is layered.  The back of real leather (the flesh side) is soft like fleece and has no pattern to it and is always similar in color to the front (smooth side).  However, bag manufacturers almost never leave anything exposed, so this is not always a great way to tell.
  3. Price. Real leather is typically at least double the price of imitation leather, and rightfully so, because real leather will last much more than twice as long as imitation.  
  4. ASK.This should be your EASIEST way to tell.  Look at the product description or ask the person you are buying it from.  They have a legal (and hopefully a moral) obligation to tell you what the product is made of.  However, the person may not know if you are buying from someone second hand.  

So next time you shop for a bag or belt or other leather products, take a second, look it over, smell it, and ask the seller.  Soon you'll be able to tell the real thing from the imitation like an expert!  Check out our handbags at for a look at the real thing!

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