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Leather vs. Leatherette: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 24, 2023
Leather is a natural material made from animal hide, while leatherette is a synthetic, man-made material designed to mimic leather.

Key Differences

Leather, a well-known material, is derived from the hide of animals, typically cows, which is tanned to create a durable and flexible material. Leatherette, on the other hand, is an artificial substance, usually made from plastic materials, that's designed to resemble the look and feel of genuine leather.
Leather often has a unique texture, grain, and aroma that is associated with its natural origin. In contrast, leatherette provides a more uniform appearance and lacks the characteristic scent of genuine leather.
Many people value leather for its long-lasting nature, ability to age gracefully, and breathability. Leatherette, while not as breathable as genuine leather, has its own set of advantages, including resistance to moisture and stains, and often comes at a more affordable price point.
It's important to recognize that while leather requires specific care to maintain its appearance and prevent drying or cracking, leatherette tends to be more low-maintenance in its upkeep.

Comparison Chart


Natural from animal hides.
Synthetic, man-made.

Texture & Appearance

Unique grain and texture.
Uniform, consistent appearance.

Durability & Aging

Ages gracefully, can last years.
Less durable, might crack or peel over time.

Care & Maintenance

Requires special care and products.
Generally low-maintenance.


Typically more expensive.
More affordable than genuine leather.

Leather and Leatherette Definitions


Often used in fashion, furniture, and accessories.
The leather sofa added a touch of luxury to the living room.


A synthetic material mimicking the appearance of leather.
I was surprised to find out that my wallet was actually made of leatherette.


Recognizable by its unique grain and aroma.
Upon entering the shop, the scent of fresh leather was unmistakable.


Often crafted from plastic or other man-made substances.
This leatherette jacket is water-resistant and easy to clean.


A tanned material from the hide of animals.
My new jacket is made of genuine leather and feels incredibly soft.


Lacks the natural scent and grain of real leather.
Though the leatherette couch looked real, it lacked the distinct aroma of leather.


A natural product known for durability and flexibility.
She purchased a leather purse, expecting it to last for years.


Used as a cost-effective alternative to genuine leather.
For budget reasons, they opted for leatherette seats in their car.


Requires care to prevent drying or cracking.
I apply conditioner to my leather shoes to keep them looking new.


Typically more resistant to moisture and stains.
She spilled her drink, but the leatherette cover wiped clean easily.


The dressed or tanned hide of an animal.


Imitation leather.


A type of fabric, often plastic, made to imitate the appearance of leather.


A person who dresses in leather or imitation leather.


Fabric made to look like leather


Can leather breathe?

Yes, leather is a natural material that is breathable, unlike leatherette.

Which lasts longer, leather or leatherette?

Leather typically lasts longer and ages gracefully, while leatherette might deteriorate faster.

Why is leather more expensive than leatherette?

Leather's cost reflects its natural origin, processing, and quality, whereas leatherette is man-made and often cheaper to produce.

Can you tell leather and leatherette apart by touch?

Often, leather has a distinct texture and warmth, while leatherette might feel cooler and smoother.

Can leather be repaired if damaged?

Yes, leather can often be repaired or restored, depending on the type and extent of damage.

What is leather made from?

Leather is made from the tanned hide of animals, primarily cows.

Is leatherette vegan?

Yes, leatherette is a synthetic material and does not use animal products, making it vegan.

Is leatherette good for car seats?

Leatherette is often used in car seats due to its water and stain resistance and lower cost compared to leather.

Is leatherette the same as faux leather?

Yes, leatherette is a type of faux leather, a synthetic material designed to look like leather.

Is leatherette waterproof?

Leatherette is generally more water-resistant than genuine leather but may not be entirely waterproof.

How do you care for leather products?

Leather requires conditioners and protectants to prevent drying, cracking, and staining.

Does leatherette peel over time?

Yes, leatherette can peel or crack over time, especially with wear and exposure to the elements.

Can leatherette products be recycled?

Some leatherette products can be recycled, but it depends on the specific materials and local recycling facilities.

Are there different grades of leather?

Yes, leather comes in various grades, such as full-grain, top-grain, and bonded leather, reflecting quality and processing.

Can leather fade in the sun?

Yes, prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause leather to fade or discolor.

Why might someone choose leather over leatherette?

People might choose leather for its durability, unique texture, breathability, and natural origin.

How do I clean a leatherette product?

Leatherette can usually be wiped clean with a damp cloth and mild detergent.

Are there eco-friendly leather alternatives?

Yes, aside from traditional leatherette, there are eco-friendly alternatives made from mushrooms, pineapple fibers, and more.

Do leather products have a unique scent?

Yes, leather has a characteristic aroma, while leatherette lacks this natural scent.

How does humidity affect leather and leatherette?

Humidity can cause leather to mold or deteriorate, while leatherette might not be as affected but can still degrade over time.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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