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Synthetic vs Genuine Leather

Photo taken by The Green Furnishing

Genuine or natural leather has been considered a luxury material for a long time. It is not surprising as it is durable and pleasing to the eyes. Typically sourced from animal skin, this means that genuine leather is hard to come by and is therefore more expensive. There are the synthetic alternatives like faux and bond leather which are much cheaper and more affordable.

To those who are new to leather, it can be hard to differentiate and recognise the differences between genuine and imitation leather. The two items may look very similar to one another, making it hard to tell this from that.

Genuine leather is made of animal leather, goes through some prep processes before it is usable to be made into furniture or accessories. There are 4 grades of genuine leather which have drastically different price points. They are in order from most expensive to least expensive and also how long they last when in use, full grain leather, top grain leather, split leather and lastly suede leather.

Full grain leather is formed from the top part of a cow’s hide and includes all the grains. Similarly the top grain leather is also formed from the top part of the hide but the very top layer is buffed and sanded down. The split leather is from the middle of the hide and is much softer to the touch as compared to full grain and top grain leather. Suede leather is formed from the bottom part of the hide and feels the softest to the touch among genuine leathers.


  • Natural and unique material

  • Flexible material, soft to the touch and able to mould with use

  • More durable and can last for a long time

  • Wears nicely with time

  • Treated leather used for furniture are usually easy to clean


  • More expensive

  • Requires care and maintenance more

  • Porous

  • Does not sit well with animal activists

Synthetic leather is man-made or artificial leather that looks like real leather. It is dyed and treated to mimic the texture and surface of genuine leather. Synthetic leather is less expensive and does not require real animal hide and hence is often used as a substitute for genuine leather.


  • More cheaper

  • Does not require real animal hide

  • Look and feel similar to low-grade genuine leather

  • Even, consistent colour throughout

  • Easy to clean


  • Less durable

Difference Between Synthetic and Genuine Leather to note.

1. Price

Price is a big tell-tale sign if it is genuine or not. The process of creating genuine leather is long and hard with many steps to take before reaching the final product. There are some regulations dealing with the processes behind retrieving the hide as well. More money and time spent to create the object, the more expensive it is.

2. Feel of it

The texture of leather is different. Genuine leather is thicker than the synthetic ones and they are often smoother to the touch, with grains. Genuine leather is also more elastic, when you run your hand through the surface of the leather, small wrinkles will appear and should go away as soon as you remove your hand. If it does not return to its previous state, it means that it is not legitimate.

3. Smell

The odour is another big sign. Synthetic leather will produce a plastic small which is not typical of genuine leather. Head down to our showroom at Paya Lebar (#02-14A Singapore 400845) or Woodlands (#05-05 Singapore 730900) to get a wift of how real leather smells like.


Have you gotten some tips and gained more knowledge about the differences between authentic and mimic leather? At The Green Furnishing, we mostly use thick top grain leather (genuine leather) for our sofas as we value quality. Click here to find out more about the types of leather.

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