What is Pu leather? - Is it a vegan leather?
Can’t get a straight answer about this on the internet? Read on...
PU leather or Bicast leather is not vegan-friendly. High-quality Leather usually uses the “top” layer of the hide, PU Leather or Bicast leather uses the inner splits of the hide. It is still derived from the hides of animals. PU leather is then usually finished with a polyurethane coating, which is why sometimes it is called artificial leather because of this plastic-like coating, however, make no mistake, it still comes from animal hides. Making it is about as vegan-friendly as “Genuine Leather.”
How to spot Pu leather?
If you have a label handy, you would think it would be easy to spot a PU leather, think again, in an attempt to create as much confusion around what it is PU leather isn't always described as such.
Also look out for :
- Bycast Leather or BiCast Leather
- Bonded Leather
- Split Leather
- Corrected Grain Leather
- Reconstituted Leather
What if there is no label?
If your product doesn't happen to have a label handy, you can also look out for these signs to see if it is genuine leather...
There is chemical or plastic smell from the product, especially if its straight our the packaging, the polyurethane coating gives a plastic-like smell to it
It's cheaper, because of its lack of quality it's often a fraction of the price. If you're thinking its too good to be true when it comes to leather it probably is.
It wears badly over time, Genuine leather like a fine wine gets better over time, developing marks and patinas giving it that vintage feel. PU Leather has that plastic coating, which wears, cracks and reveals the fabric underneath.
It doesn't look genuine if your thinking there is something odd about this leather it's probably PU or Bicast leather which always looks second grade.
Why use PU Leather?
This leather is often an effective alternative to “high-quality leathers” because they are more cost-effective, often costing a fraction of the price it’s easy for people to buy who want that leather look but don't want to pay as much as good quality leather costs, however it usually isn't as cost effective as you might think. For furniture that is used daily, it’s often perfect because it’s easy to clean spills as the leather is coated with a polyurethane coating to make it water resistant.
Combine this with the fact that it can be advertised both as leather and synthetic leather and you have yourself a product that is ideal for “mass Consumers” or those looking for vegan alternatives to leather.
Is it as good as "Genuine" leathers or leather alternatives?
As with most cheaper alternatives, it's price has an impact and almost direct correlation on the quality and longevity of the product. PU leather, unlike real leather, is not breathable so ideally is not great for use in clothes, however, it does seem like a cheaper alternative.
Although the initial outlay is less expensive PU Leather often doesn't wear as well, in fact, genuine leather develops mark and patinas overtime creating that vintage look whereas Faux, PU and Bicast often crack revealing the inferior fabric underneath.
So What vegan leathers can I use? What is a good alternative to leather?
Looking for something that is just as durable, waterproof and ages like a fine wine over time?
Try out waxed canvas, a material that is quickly gaining traction in vegan communities as a more eco-friendly alternative to leathers
Developed by Scottish sailors, over 200 years ago, it was bespoken to withstand the harsh Atlantic ocean whilst being waterproof; it has stood the test of time and is now one of the oldest, still in use materials in the world. Whilst being durable, rugged and long-lasting it also ages beautifully, like leather, developing distinguished mark and patinas over time to give it a unique vintage look. Take a look...