Faux Leather Fabric Uses

What Is Faux Leather?

Faux leather, also called imitation leather or “pleather,” is any type of man-made fabric intended to look and feel like real leather. It can be made from any material, but most of the time it is made with some type of thermoplastic polymer. Usually, it is created by attaching a sheet of flexible synthetic material to one or more layers of fabric backing (often polyester). The leather-like plastic is dyed and stamped to imitate a leather grain. It is much cheaper than hide leather, and in many cases, more eco-friendly to produce.

There are two main types of faux leather:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Leather
  • PU (Polyurethane) Leather

PVC Leather is a popular choice for furniture upholstery and shoes due to its strength. However, this material is also very stiff and non-breathable, and usually feels more like plastic than leather. PU leather is softer than PVC, making it popular in a wider range of products, including all types of clothing. It is more breathable and leather-like than PVC, and has less of an impact on the environment overall. However, it is slightly more prone to tearing and staining.

What Are the Most Popular Faux Leather Products?

Faux leather has gone through many changes and improvements over the last 70+ years. You can now use it to replace leather in just about any situation. It can even be hard to differentiate between a well-made faux leather product and one made with genuine leather. The only obvious difference may be the price tag.

Furniture and Auto Upholstery

Vehicle interiors and furniture are among the top faux leather products on the market. This is mostly thanks to low production costs. It takes a lot of leather just to upholster a sofa, not to mention every seat in a car, bus, or airplane. Using imitation leather can cut the cost to a fraction of what it would be, without losing the luxurious effect of beautiful leather seating.

Faux leather is also popular in commercial vehicles for its durability and hygienic properties. Leather seats are porous, difficult to clean, and expensive to replace. Faux leather upholstery, on the other hand, is waterproof and easy to sanitize or wash down with soap and water. Its color doesn’t fade from sun exposure, and when the time comes to replace it, doing so won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Bags and Accessories

Purses, satchels, backpacks, wallets, and accessories are also common faux leather products. PU leather is a frequent choice because it is flexible and can be stitched into complicated, fashionable styles. This isn’t the only reason faux leather works well for bags and wallets, though. Because it is water resistant (and often entirely waterproof) it can protect valuables and tech, such as phones or laptops, inside.


Clothing is another wildly popular application for faux leather. It can take on any color, texture, or shape, making it one of the easiest fabrics to work with. In many cases, designers no longer even care if their products look like “real” leather, embracing the vinyl plastic look instead. However, it can still be extremely convincing in cases where consumers want a genuine leather look and feel. PU leather, especially, can replicate the look and soft feel of hide leather clothing.

Popular clothing and fashion items that use faux leather include:

  • Shoes
  • Jackets (especially motorcycle jackets)
  • Belts
  • Leather skirts, trousers, dresses, and other clothing items

These are just a few well-known faux leather fabric uses. Cheaper, and even more environmentally-friendly than real leather, faux leather is continuing to prove one of the most versatile fabrics that any type of designer can work and create with.

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