When it comes to fashion, it is often said that an investment in a quality piece will pay you dividends over your lifetime whereas a low-quality garment will cost you more than it is worth.
As it comes to leather jackets, this is not only invariably true but is especially the case when it comes to true material versus faux iterations of that same thing.
Genuine leather, as opposed to PU leather or “faux” leather, has a range of benefits both from styling and quality-of-garment perspectives.
But most people aren’t aware of this and, in fact, are lured away from making a wise shopping decision by faux leather’s much cheaper prices.
We’re going to tell you why you should always choose a real leather jacket and how it is a superior option to fake leather in every case.
Faux Leather vs. Real Leather Jacket
Why is there such a division in the fashion world between fake and real leather?
It all has to do with price, and the rise of things like fast fashion. You see, you can’t really make a good leather jacket at a cheap price. You can easily do this with leatherette or PU leather. Not only can you make it cheaply, but you can also make it quick and in huge quantities.
More importantly for fast fashion, you can do things to it that you can’t do to real leather very easily such as non-traditional dyes, colors, embellishments, and other things. Even so, faux leather is a poor choice of material for a variety of reasons, not least among them being the fact that it is, by definition, fake.
What is PU Leather or Leatherette?
PU (polyurethane) leather is an artificially made material. As such, it is similar in texture or looks to real leather, but it doesn’t feel the same or wear the same as that material.
Always cheaper than real leather when it comes to most applications, leatherette is not without its uses. Some people prefer it as a material and it even has extensive (and understandable) use in things such as upholstery and cutting-edge fashion. At its core, PU leather is not about saving the environment or being animal friendly (though it is often construed as such).
Instead, it is intended as a cheaper alternative to real leather. Keeping this in mind helps situate PU leather more appropriately within the wider spectrum of jacket materials. Since it is intended as a substitute and works as a substitute, it is by necessity somewhat inferior to the real product. That’s not a knock on PU leather, that’s just where it stands in the market. Further, the idea that “vegan leather” or “pleather” is environmentally friendlier than real leather is not always true. It all depends on the treatment process used to create the final product.
Some PU leather manufacturing is extremely toxic and environmentally unfriendly whereas tanning real leather is something humans have done for thousands of years. Though we acknowledge there are some uses for leatherette, we are decidedly fans of genuine leather - and for good reason.
What is a Genuine Leather Jacket?
At its most basic level, a genuine leather jacket is a garment that is made out of real materials. This could be napa leather, sheepskin, or any other designation that notes the leather came from an animal originally.
A genuine leather jacket’s primary materials cannot be assembled in a lab or in a factory because they are sourced from animals. And, unlike fur, no cruelty is employed in getting leather from these animals. Cowhide, for example, is often the byproduct of beef cattle production, for example.
Because of their natural state, they are susceptible to the rigors of weathering and aging as well as the limitations this garment type puts on dying and treatments.
As we outlined earlier, you can do some pretty wild things with PU leather that you can’t do with real leather. But when it comes to a real, high-quality genuine leather jacket, there’s almost no competition.
Why genuine leather is better than faux leather for your leather jacket
We’ve not made it a secret that we prefer a genuine leather jacket over leatherette or any hybrid material. But now, we’re going to tell you why.
Before we do that, we’re going to give you a little bit of background on what it’s like to wear a genuine leather jacket as opposed to a faux leather jacket. For one, a real leather jacket learns how to move with your body. It is way more pliable and thus eases over time to accommodate natural movements.
A fake leather jacket never does this and, in fact, starts to fall apart rather than adjust to the natural motions your body makes. Fake leather jackets also retain a ton of heat which can make them very uncomfortable to wear. Aside from that, here are some other reasons why a genuine leather jacket is always a better option:
1# Lasts for a lifetime
The single best reason to own a real leather jacket is that, if treated properly, they will last the owner for a lifetime.
We’re talking about regular cleaning and conditioning as well as proper storage.
Few materials in the world of fashion have such permanence as leather does and it comes with responsibilities - and a price tag. If you’re looking for a jacket that you know you will want to wear for years, there’s no other choice other than a real leather jacket.
#2 Ages with grace
We love leather jackets because they last forever, but they also age gracefully during that eternity. Depending on how it is treated, leather jackets develop a patina of wear over time that gives them character. PU leather jackets fade and crack open after a while.
Genuine leather is also much easier to repair or patch than leatherette - not that you would want to do that.
The main point of a PU leather article is to give you something fashionable at a cheap price, not something that lasts. Real leather jackets age and get more beautiful with time whereas fake leather simply falls apart and looks terrible.
#3 Easier to Modify
One of the best things about a genuine leather jacket is that it is both easier to repair and simpler to modify if you choose to do so. No one puts a patch or any kind of embellishment on a faux leather jacket, nor should you.
If you want to make some changes or customize your jacket in any substantial way, then the only real option for you is to go on ahead and get a genuine leather garment.
#4 Higher Quality Materials Overall
Because leatherette is made to be affordable, it tends to accompany other similar materials that get the job done but aren’t the best out there.
Real leather jackets tend to have the best materials and hardware that the artisan can get. Since leather is a more expensive material, cheaper things tend to not work as well with it and thus some makers are forced to use better stuff by necessity.
Plus, if you’re asking someone to spend some serious money, companies don’t want the product falling apart a year or so after use. Genuine leather jackets have a much higher duty-of-care standard when it comes to their customers than fake products.
5# Superior Craftsmanship
Along with better materials, the craftsmanship behind genuine leather articles is often superior to that found in fake products. Leatherworking is a true art and using fake materials like PU leather is not much different than working with any other kind of fabric.
Purists who appreciate the art and history behind leather jacket creation know that the person who puts it together determines the jacket’s final quality as much as anything else and that’s what makes it special. Each genuine leather jacket takes time and effort that cannot be replicated by a factory process very easily.
Choosing between a genuine leather jacket and a fake leather option is really a matter of purpose and preference.
We’ve told you that one is better than the other by the fact that one is a copy of the other, but we’ve also told you about how one lasts for a lifetime and the other is more of a seasonal item.
Some of the common misconceptions about fake leather is that it is somehow better for the environment or less cruel to animals.
As we’ve discussed above, this is actually not the case.Genuine leather often uses processes honed over hundreds of years while the heavily-chemical-based manufacturing process used by leatherette can often have lasting and detrimental consequences for the environment. No matter what your considerations maybe, when it comes to fashion, style, and good economic sense, a genuine leather jacket is always the superior option.