Guide to spot a fake leather

How to spot a fake leather with 3 simple steps


Leather is a durable material created by tanning animal rawhide and skins. However, there are two main types of leather in the market as real leather and faux leather/vegan leather. Pure leather or real leather is made from animal hides while vegan leather is made from synthetic materials like plastics. When you are buying leather products, make sure to pay attention to the grade of leather. Be careful- being deceived is an instant. For these reasons, we at Florence leather market have listed a series of points that you can use as a starting point to understand if it is real leather or not. 

Martina MG  

Read, always read 

Real leather: It seems obvious but read the tag or label. If it’s real leather, it will proudly say so. If you see “100% leather,” “full-grain leather,” “top grain leather,” or “genuine leather,” you’re headed in the right direction. (Learn more about the different types of leather).

Bonded leather: If the label doesn’t say anything at all about the material, it’s probably bonded leather (or even faux leather, which is completely synthetic). Full or top-grain leather and even genuine leather are always proudly noted, like in each description of our leather messenger bags. Also, check the price tag. We love a deal as much as the next guy, but real quality leather, particularly full-grain leather, is much more expensive to work with than bonded leather, so if the price seems too good to be true – it probably is.


Real leather: Remember again, real leather is a natural material. So, when you run your fingers across it, it doesn’t feel perfectly smooth. Press your finger into the leather – the surface will stretch and wrinkle a bit, like skin. This is especially true of full-grain leather, and may also be noticed in top grain leather. Genuine leather may not pass this test.

Bonded leather: When you run your fingers across bonded leather, it feels cold and unnaturally even. Also, when you press your finger into the surface, it doesn’t act like skin. Rather than stretching or wrinkling, the bonded leather simply depresses under your finger while still retaining its shape.


Real leather: If you’ve smelled real leather before, you know it has a distinctive “leathery” smell – it has a natural, organic, skin scent that cannot be accurately manufactured.

Bonded leather: There is no reliable way to fake the smell of real quality leather. Because it’s just the pulp of leather scraps mixed with chemicals, bonded leather will have varying degrees of a plasticky, chemical odor (if any odor at all). 

Suffice it to say, if you want real leather, you don’t want bonded leather. And if you want real, quality leather, you probably don’t want “genuine leather” either. (Okay, if you’re buying a leather-bound Bible, it’s probably bonded leather—that’s not a big deal. God will forgive you.) But, when you’re buying a leather briefcase or leather jacket, be sure you know what you’re getting.


These are just a few tips that can help you with your purchase. To become a leather expert, keep following us on our blog and on our social channels