Objects made of leather are a class apart from any synthetic fiber due to their natural, rich and elegant finish. If you are planning to buy a top-quality leather bag, which is quite expensive, you must be able to tell leather from synthetic on your own.
1. Check the surface grain, the little "pebbles" and pores, for imperfections and uniqueness that signal genuine leather. Imperfections, in leather, are actually a good thing. Remember, real leather is made from animal skin, and thus each piece is as random and unique as the animal it came from. Very regular, even, and similar grains often indicate a machine-made piece. Real leather might have scratches, creases, and wrinkles -- this is a good thing!
2. Press into the leather, looking for creases and wrinkles. Real leather will wrinkle under the tough, just like real skin. Synthetic materials usually just depress down under your finger, retaining rigidity and shape.
3. Smell the leather, searching for a natural, musty smell instead of plastic-like or chemical-y. Remember, leather is just worked with animal skin. Faux leather is made of plastic. It seems obvious, but real leather will smell like skin and fake will smell like plastic.
4. Use the fire test. Hold a flame up to the area for 5-10 seconds to test it out:
- Real leather is not easy to ignite, only grey powder remains have no agglomeration after completely burning, and smell a bit like burnt hair.
- Faux leather can ignite quickly, and when completely burned, there will be black lumps and smells like burning plastic.
5. Ignore color, as even colored leathers can be genuine. A bright blue piece of leather furniture may not look natural, but this doesn't mean it isn't made of real leather. Colors and dyes can be added to both synthetics and natural leathers, so ignore color and stick to feel, smell, and texture when searching for real or faux leather.
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