Blog, Style Tips, Stylist 101, Sustainable Fashion

What is Faux Leather, Anyway?

woman wearing brown faux leather two piece set

February 13, 2023

I’m Abby!.
I'm a certified & published fashion stylist located in Silicon Valley with speciality in personal styling, color analysis and runway, commercial, and editorial styling.

Pleather was such a funny-sounding mystery to me growing up! It wasn’t until later when I had immediate access to the internet that I finally learned about the production process. Read more to find out about how it’s made, how to care for it, and what the benefits and tradeoffs are with buying faux leather.

woman side planking wearing faux brown leather

What faux leather is made of


You may have heard people use the phrases faux leather, vegan leather, pleather, etc… They’re all the same, and they’re all manufactured through a layering of various plastic materials over a base fabric. Polyurethane and PVC coatings give the leather its tough yet malleable quality, and the color and finish provides the signature shade and sheen. The plasticity makes it distinguishable from real leather in a number of different ways: vegan leather will feel completely smooth and cold to the touch, and is much more stiff when you try to stretch it. A slightly-foul chemical odor is also a dead giveaway of synthetic leather, which would otherwise have an organic, leathery (for lack of a better descriptor) smell. This is how pleather has been produced thus far, but there’s an exciting future for faux leather on the horizon: labs like Modern Meadow have been working to create a cruelty-free, collagen-based leather that replicates the soft, stretchy qualities of cow hide.

woman wearing black leather jacket

How to care for faux leather


Thankfully it’s a lot easier to maintain a faux leather jacket than it is to clean a real one. Unless the tag indicates “hand-wash only,” just turn your faux leather inside out, throw it into the washing machine with gentle detergent, adjust the settings for a delicate load with cold water, and press start! Do remember to air dry it though, or else you’ll risk having the plastic coating wear down quicker than expected — I recommend leaving your faux-leather pieces to hang-dry in the shower. If you do start to notice cracking or peeling, feel free to take a cloth with a little coconut oil to it, and wax it down to prolong the item’s sheen.


Benefits & tradeoffs of buying faux leather


There are so many benefits to choosing vegan leather over the real thing! Because there are no cows involved in the manufacturing process, it’s a much more ethical choice if you hold animal rights close to your heart. And since plastic is much, much cheaper, so are vegan leather products — a pleather jacket can cost you as little as $30.00, which would otherwise potentially sell for hundreds of dollars. However, for the same reason, it’s not nearly as durable as real leather — but again, there are ways to take good care of it until the wheels fall off.

woman wearing all-black leather outfit

I hope this article was informing, and helpful in your decision between faux and real leather! Vegan leather jackets or pants are an easy, affordable way to add a sophisticated edge to your everyday outfit. Click HERE to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to discuss how you can up-level your wardrobe today!

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