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What is PU leather?

What is PU leather? All You Need to Know About

PU leather, or polyurethane leather, is a synthetic leather substitute crafted to emulate the look and feel of genuine leather. Its origins trace back to the mid-20th century, when the demand for a cost-effective and cruelty-free alternative to natural leather arose. If you are wondering what is PU leather, then keep reading. 

Unlike traditional leather, which is derived from animal hides, PU leather is composed of a polyurethane coating applied to a base material, often fabric. This process allows for a versatile range of textures and finishes, mimicking the aesthetic of various leather types. The base fabric provides durability and structure, while the polyurethane coating enhances the material’s resistance to wear, water, and fading.

The appeal of PU leather extends beyond ethical considerations. Its production is more environmentally friendly compared to traditional leather tanning processes, reducing the environmental impact associated with the latter. Additionally, PU leather offers a consistent quality and appearance, free from the natural variations found in genuine leather.

One notable aspect is its affordability, making it an accessible choice for individuals seeking a leather-like aesthetic without the higher price tag. PU leather has found applications in various industries, from fashion and upholstery to accessories and automotive interiors. As technology advances, the quality and authenticity of PU leather continue to improve, challenging preconceptions about synthetic materials and establishing its own place in the world of fashion and design.

Let us explore more about PU leather and understand its place in the realm of the leather industry.

What are the Advantages of PU Leather? 

  • Cost Effectiveness

One of the standout advantages of PU leather is its cost-effectiveness. In comparison to genuine leather, PU leather is significantly more affordable, making it an attractive option for individuals seeking a leather-like appearance on a budget. This accessibility opens up opportunities for a wider range of consumers to enjoy the aesthetic appeal of leather without the higher price tag, democratising stylish choices in fashion, furniture, and various other applications.

  • Easy Maintenance

PU leather boasts exceptional ease of maintenance, a practical advantage for busy lifestyles. Unlike genuine leather, PU leather is less susceptible to stains and requires minimal upkeep. Cleaning is straightforward; a gentle wipe with a damp cloth generally suffices to remove dirt or spills. This easy maintenance makes PU leather a preferred choice for those seeking a hassle-free and durable material. It retains its aesthetic appeal with minimal effort, ensuring that individuals can enjoy the look and feel of leather without the time-consuming care often associated with natural alternatives.

  • Vegan Accessory Option

People often skip buying a leather man bag because of its composition. However, PU leather serves as a compassionate choice for individuals embracing a vegan lifestyle. As a cruelty-free alternative to traditional leather, PU leather allows fashion enthusiasts to indulge in stylish accessories without compromising their ethical principles. 

Its synthetic composition aligns with sustainability goals, offering a guilt-free option for those who seek fashion that aligns with compassion for animals. This aspect enhances PU leather’s appeal, expanding its presence in the market as a conscientious and trendy alternative for the ethically minded consumer.

  • Diverse Range of Styles

PU leather stands out for its versatility in delivering a diverse range of styles. This synthetic material can be manufactured to mimic various types of natural leather, offering textures and finishes such as grain patterns, smooth surfaces, or distressed looks. The adaptability of PU leather enables the creation of accessories, furniture, and apparel with distinct aesthetics, catering to a broad spectrum of tastes. This flexibility in design and appearance ensures that PU leather remains a dynamic and fashionable choice for those seeking unique and personalised style statements.


Now that we have discussed the benefits of PU leather, let us focus on its disadvantages.

  • The Overall Look

While PU leather mimics the appearance of genuine leather, it may lack the authentic patina and depth that develop over time in natural materials. The synthetic nature of PU leather can result in a less nuanced and less rich visual texture. 

Over extended use, it might show signs of wear differently than natural leather, potentially appearing less gracefully aged. For those who appreciate the unique character that genuine leather develops, the aesthetic longevity of PU leather might not match the evolving charm found in traditional materials.

  • Lack of Breathability

One notable drawback of PU leather is its limited breathability compared to natural alternatives. The synthetic composition doesn’t allow air circulation as efficiently as genuine leather, making it less comfortable for prolonged use, especially in warmer climates. 

This reduced breathability may lead to a less ventilated and potentially warmer experience, particularly when used in items like clothing or accessories. Individuals who prioritise breathability and comfort may find this aspect of PU leather to be a notable disadvantage in certain applications.

  • Smell of Leather

Unlike genuine leather, PU leather lacks the distinctive, natural scent associated with authentic hides. The aroma of genuine leather contributes to the sensory experience, embodying a sense of luxury and authenticity. For those who appreciate the earthy and rich smell that comes with real leather, the absence of this characteristic fragrance in PU leather can be a notable disadvantage, as it misses out on one of the sensory pleasures often associated with high-quality leather products.

  • Short-Lasting Duration

One significant disadvantage of PU leather is its comparatively shorter lifespan when compared to genuine leather. While affordable and stylish, PU leather may not withstand wear and tear as robustly as its natural counterparts. Over time, it can show signs of deterioration, such as peeling or cracking, particularly with heavy use. 

This reduced durability means that items made with PU leather may need to be replaced more frequently, potentially offsetting the initial cost savings. For those seeking long-lasting investments, the shorter duration of pristine appearance can be a notable drawback of PU leather.

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How is PU leather different from Other Leather Types?

PU Leather vs. Real Leather

The primary distinction between PU leather and genuine leather lies in their composition. PU leather is a synthetic material crafted with a polyurethane coating applied to a fabric base, offering a more affordable and cruelty-free alternative. In contrast, genuine leather is derived from animal hides, ensuring a natural and authentic texture. 

While PU leather mimics the look and feel of real leather, it lacks the genuine material’s unique patina development over time. Genuine leather tends to be more breathable and, with proper care, can last significantly longer than PU leather, making the choice between the two a balance of aesthetics, ethics, and durability.

PU Leather vs. Faux Leather

The terms “PU leather” and “faux leather” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they refer to different materials. PU leather specifically stands for polyurethane leather, a type of synthetic leather made with a polyurethane coating on a fabric base. 

On the other hand, faux leather is a broader term encompassing various synthetic leather substitutes, including PU leather. While all PU leather is faux leather, not all faux leather is necessarily PU leather, as it can be made from other materials like PVC. The key difference is that PU leather is a specific subset of faux leather with distinct characteristics, offering a more environmentally friendly and versatile alternative.

PU Leather vs. Bonded Leather

PU leather and bonded leather are both synthetic alternatives, but they differ in composition. PU leather, or polyurethane leather, is crafted with a polyurethane coating on a fabric base, providing a cruelty-free and cost-effective alternative with a versatile range of styles.

Bonded leather, on the other hand, is made by bonding scraps of genuine leather onto a fabric backing, creating a material that contains some real leather but is less durable than genuine leather. While PU leather is entirely synthetic, bonded leather incorporates a small amount of genuine leather, but this may not necessarily enhance its overall quality or longevity.

Factors to consider when Buying PU Leather Accessories

There are several factors you should consider before buying any leather accessories. It is better to look for quality materials offered by professionals like Obi Pelle to ensure a satisfying and informed buying experience. Here are some factors to look for before investing in a PU leather accessory:

Quality of the PU Material

Inspect the quality of the polyurethane material. Look for a smooth and consistent surface, avoiding any signs of peeling or cracking.


Consider the intended use of the accessory, and choose a PU leather item that aligns with your durability expectations. Some PU leather products may withstand wear and tear better than others.

Appearance and Texture

Examine the aesthetic qualities. Assess the texture and finish to ensure they match your preferences and intended style.

Stitching and Construction

Evaluate the stitching and overall construction of the accessory. High-quality stitching contributes to durability and a polished appearance.

Brand Reputation

Research the reputation of the brand. Established brands with positive reviews often provide reliable and well-crafted PU leather accessories.

Ethical Considerations

For those choosing PU leather for ethical reasons, ensure the manufacturing process aligns with your values and principles.

Price Point

Consider your budget. While PU leather is generally more affordable than genuine leather, price variations exist based on factors like brand and design.

Care Instructions

Understand the care requirements as different PU leather items may have specific cleaning and maintenance needs.


This blog has all the answers to the question, ‘What is PU leather’? Choosing PU leather involves a careful balance of quality, aesthetics, and personal values. By considering factors such as material quality, durability, and brand reputation, you can confidently navigate the world of PU leather, ensuring that your accessories not only complement your style but also meet your ethical and practical expectations.

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