What is PU Leather? Is it Vegan? - All about PU Leather
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What PU leather is, how PU leather is made, and how it's used.
What is PU Leather? Is it Vegan? - All about PU Leather
PU Leather Bags, Backpacks, Duffel Bags - Looking for a type of leather that is affordable, cruelty-free, and comes in lots of colors and patterns?
If so, PU leather is certainly the go-to option for you! While real leather is precious and requires lots of maintenance, this type of leather is easy to take care of and lasts as long as real leather. Every real leather article is possible to manufacture from PU leather as well.
So, why not go for an animal-friendly, cheaper option? Still, you may need more information on this type of leather! Take it easy, because this read is to provide you with enough and more information about PU leather. Here we go!
The only PU Leather blog you'll ever need to read!
PU leather, in full form, means polyurethane leather, and it is an artificial leather made of a synthetic polymer called polyurethane.
Further, it is a cheaper and cruelty-free substitute for genuine leather. While genuine leather makes use of animal hide (mostly cowhide), this type of leather is 100% synthetic, with only chemicals and plasticizers in its composition.
Moreover, this type of leather feels like real leather in almost every aspect, but unlike real leather, it’s lighter and comes in vivid colors. Besides, PU leather or pleather can be used to make a range of different products, including shoes, coats, wallets, belts, bags, car seats, insulation, etc. Also, this leather type is great at providing resistance against sunlight, which makes it the ideal candidate for automobile parts.
Is PU leather vegan?
PU leather is 100% synthetic, and therefore 100% vegan.
Vegan leather does not use any animal matter in its production process. While vegan leather can be completely artificial, there is natural vegan leather, such as pineapple leather, cork leather, and kelp leather. However, PU leather is artificial vegan leather. But the question is, are all PU leather 100% vegan? - The answer is no.
There is bicast leather, or double-cast leather, that has real leather and only a polyurethane coat on top of the real leather.
Bicast leather uses the fibrous portion of the cowhide and for this reason, it is not vegan. Even PU leather uses petroleum in the manufacturing process.
Petroleum is made from fossils which are dead bodies of animals who died millions of years ago. It is still debatable whether petroleum is vegan or not. So, if you consider petroleum to be vegan, then this type of leather is 100% cruelty-free leather that you should be looking for to buy!
So how to tell if it’s PU leather or bi-cast leather? - This should be an obvious question that you have! If you are purchasing a product, careful examination of the tag or product description will tell you between the two. If it’s PU leather, it will have 100% synthetic or 100% vegan on the label. Usually, this type of leather will have a complete description of its composition. And yes, this makes you easily buy that desired animal-friendly product.
How is PU leather made?
The main component of PU leather is polyurethane, with a plasticizer and UV light stabilizer to provide resistance to sunlight. However, the production process of this type of leather is mind-blowing and simple to understand. First, a base fabric is chosen considering the end product. For example, if the leather is to be used for manufacturing furniture, the thick fabric will be used to keep the robustness that it requires. If the leather is for something like leather bags or wallets, a thinner and lighter fabric will be used. Technically, leather is built on this fabric. Then machines will apply a plastic coating on the base fabric. The plastic coat consists of polyurethane, plasticizer, and other materials. Next, a second coat of plastic is applied to the first coat. The second coat covers any imperfections that were left by the first coat. Color dyes are coated on the base fabric through the second coat. Finally, the double-coated base fabric is pressed with release papers. The release paper is a thick and heavy paper with leathery patterns carved into it. After the manufacturing process, PU leather sheets are cut and shaped into their value-added end product.
Vegan Leather Backpack made from PU Leather - GENTCREATE.
Is PU leather a durable type of leather?
Yes, High-quality PU leather resembles real leather in durability, quality, and appearance.
Since polyurethane is hard, durable, and scratch-resistant, it does not tear or wear down easily. But in the market, there is low-quality leather, which is likely to peel, tear and chap over time. Besides, this type of leather is better than most faux leather substitutes.
The only downside of PU leather is that it does not retain moisture. Owing to this reason, after a few years of use, it’s likely to crack and tear. While real leather develops a patina as it ages, this leather will not. It will continue to maintain its rigidity.
How to maintain PU leather?
Now, PU leather is prone to wear. Still, with the right maintenance, these leather goods can last for several years.
Begin with not placing your PU leather goods in direct sunlight.
Even though this type of leather is sunlight resistant, too much of it for prolonged time periods can harm the material. For everyday care, use a dry non-abrasive, lint-free cloth to clear off any dust and dirt.
You can soak a cloth or a sponge in warm water and gently clean the surface of your PU leather sofa or bag. This type of leather does not absorb water. Therefore, it is indeed easy to clean and maintain. Since this leather is non-porous, unlike real leather, stains tend to remain on the surface.
You can't use just anything to get rid of the stain. Bleaching is a huge no! Chemicals in bleachers will dry out this leather. Owing to these reasons, you should use a mild, unscented bar of soap or liquid soap and rub on the stain and wipe it with a wet cloth. If it’s a clothing item, then let it hang in the air to dry. If it’s furniture, avoid touching or sitting on it, until it’s completely dry.
While this type of leather is likely to tear, chip and scratch, deep scratches are difficult to deal with. So better use it with care. However, heating with a hairdryer may help in removing mild scratches.
If you are keen on looking after your PU leather goods for a long time, use leather conditioners from time to time. Leather conditioners will add a moistening layer on the top of the leather and keep your leather in mint condition for a long time.
Does PU leather smell?
Yes, PU leather has a characteristic smell that may linger on for quite some time.
The reason for the distinct odor or as some may call “plastic smell” is various chemicals that are used at various stages of the production of this leather. It could be the dyes that color the leather or glues that assemble the product together or sometimes oils used in the manufacturing process. However, the smell is not there to stay, it will usually dissipate within five to six weeks.
The smell reeking from PU leather is not toxic unlike the smell coming from PVC leather. PVC leather releases toxic dioxins which are harmful when breathed in. To get rid of the plastic odor faster, you can place your leather goods where they get enough ventilation and adequate airflow.
Avoid spraying any perfume or cosmetics altogether, because it could make the smell last longer rather than getting rid of. Make sure you do not store your new PU leather bag or coat in a damp and tight place where there is high humidity. This will absorb the smell further and deeper into leather.
Is PU leather better than real leather?
Undoubtedly real leather is better than PU leather. Nevertheless, this type of leather has some fine features to offer that are absent in real leather.
The main reason people are electing PU leather over real leather is that it’s nonviolent and doesn’t involve the torture of animals. This leather is easy to mass-produce and as a result, it’s a cheaper alternative to real leather.
After all, who doesn’t want to own something as grand as leather at two-thirds of the original price? Besides, PU leather is lighter than real leather and easy to clean and maintain because it is waterproof. The UV-resistant property of this leather guarantees that it does not fade away or crack when exposed to sunlight.
Unlike real leather, this leather does not dry out with time. This type of leather comes in a bevy of colors and patterns, so there are lots of options to choose from.
Real leather needs tanning before making anything useful out of it. Tanning requires the use of ammonia and chromium, two harmful pollutants. Real leather develops a patina as time passes.
PU leather does not age finely like real leather. Since this leather does not have pores like in real leather, it is much less breathable. Because of that, it is uncomfortable to wear PU leather. While it doesn’t involve animal torture, PU leather is not biodegradable, because it is made of plastics and polymers.
How to identify PU leather?
There are few ways to distinguish between PU leather and real leather.
Basically, looking at the product label will tell you if it’s real leather or PU leather. But if you want to double-check, you can easily identify this type of leather by its smell.
Real leather has an animal hide smell (obviously because it is made from the animal hide) whereas this leather will have a plastic-y smell. Also, you can tell apart between real leather and this leather by careful examination of the texture.
This type of leather has regular and perfect patterns whereas real leather consists of irregular patterns and full- grain. When you press on to the leather sofa or chair you are purchasing and if it depresses and returns to its original shape and maintains its robustness, then it is PU leather. Real leather will wrinkle under pressure.
So, this would also help you identify this type of leather. Although it is not advisable to perform a water test on products that you don't own, it will discriminate between real and PU leather.
This leather is waterproof, therefore upon spraying water, it will not absorb water. Real leather will absorb water. Another easy method to identify PU leather is it's perfectly even edges which real leather will lack thereof. Besides, real leather is expensive. So, if you find a bag or a jacket that is “unbelievably cheap” then it has to be this leather.
What is a PU leather bag?
PU leather bag is a bag made from PU leather or bicast leather. This type of a leather bag has a texture and feels similar to real leather and you can own one at a cheaper cost than a real leather bag.
Since this type of leather comes in many different color and pattern choices, there are lots of varieties to choose from. PU leather bags are made in all styles of bags. Sachet bags, frame bags, doctor bags, saddle bags, backpacks, tote bags, and barrel bags are only some among many others.
Your PU bag will last as long as a real leather bag, or even longer depending on how well you take care of it. Due to all these factors, the demand for PU bags is on the rise? Can you think of anybody who would not go for a much beneficial product? No, right?
Everyone would like to go for the most productive and beneficial product that is available on the market. And in terms of bags, and especially leather bags, PU leather bags seems to be a better choice when we consider all the factors in general. All the same, this is not just for now.
The demand will keep increasing. And the production of PU bags will remain ascendant. Hence, in the future, we can expect more and more PU bags to be on the market than they are right now.
What are the other applications of PU leather?
In the previous section, we discussed how PU leather plays a significant role in the manufacturing of bags. But it is not for bags that this type of leather is in use.
In the main, apart from the production of bags, there are many other uses of this leather. Of course, it is possible to use this type of leather in many industries that typically use leather.
When it comes to the production of belts, footwear, and garments, it is possible to use this type of leather instead of general leather. In the previous parts of this article, we have discussed how this leather resembles authentic leather and sometimes becomes much better than it.
So, all those features are readily applicable for the products that manufacturers manufacture with the use of this type of leather. In addition, even in the production of furniture, this leather is widely in use. If you shift to using PU leather furniture, you can genuinely be happy that you have not taken part in doing any harm to any animal in order to equip your living room. No doubt, PU leather furniture can add the same vividness and elegance authentic leather furniture can add.
There is hardly any difference. Further, certain car manufacturers use authentic leather for the leather seats of the vehicles that they manufacture. And doubtless, using this leather is a great alternative for them. Perhaps, they can use it as a value-adding activity for their sales. There is a high chance that they can increase their sales by making use of the fact that their leather seats are vegan. Undoubtedly, this would be a type of leather that would turn out to be kind of a publicity stunt as well.
What is oil-waxed PU leather?
Alright. Now it is about oil-waxed PU leather. What is oil-waxed PU leather? Of course, the name itself explains it. On this type of leather, an oily, greasy, and waxy finish has been applied.
Pulled-up, oiled, or waxed leather is a type of sanded leather on top of which, grease or wax layer is sprayed.
As you might already know, it’s a centuries-old practice to spray wax, grease, or oil on smoothed-out leather surfaces to get a vintage look. Because of that, oiled, waxed, or pulled-up leather is collectively known as vintage leather. Vintage leather is not artificial leather, it’s just real leather with a wax coat on top of it.
Spraying wax or oil makes the leather more water-resistant. Due to the scratch-sensitive nature of wax, this type of leather tends to develop a patina rather quickly. While applying a wax or oil layer seems protective for leather, it is not the case most of the time. Waxed leather is harder to clean and is not as durable as real leather.
Bottom line about PU Leather
Conclusively, it is a must to mention that PU leather is one of the most affordable, cruelty-free, and high- quality types of leather options for you.
And perhaps, this is the leather of the future decades. It is only with the use of this leather that we can pave the path for sustainability keeping the elegance of authenticity alive. Eventually, there will be a beautiful world for all of us. So, let us hope that the world’s majority will move toward the use of PU leather soon!
Written with love and care by the Gentcreate Team.
Our three best-selling vegan Backpacks & Bags
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