Top 10 advantages of real leather

Leather has been in use for centuries and its durability versatility and attractive appearance means it is still in demand today for clothing, accessories, furniture and car upholstery.

Around 500,000 tons of leather is produced every year, equivalent to about 1.5 billion square metres. There are also many imitators – modern production methods have made it possible to manufacture synthetic lookalikes.

But they don’t have the properties of the real thing. Leather offers so many advantages over its substitutes. This is our top 10.

Classic Car leather

1. Durability

Did you know that leather fibres are so fine and so tightly intertwined that one gram contains up to 300 square metres of interior surface? This is what makes leather so durable and resistant to tearing, stretching and bending. It can also withstand extreme temperatures.

2. Flexibility

Of course, durability doesn’t mean rock hard – although some leathers can be made that way. With wear, leather becomes more flexible and sometimes softer, while maintaining its shape and strength.

3. Diversity

Leather can be made into a wide variety of different types, from the butter soft aniline, suede and nubuck to pigmented and hardened varieties. You can also flatten it, carve motifs into it or emboss it.

4. Breathability

Substitute materials just can’t compete with leather’s ability to absorb moisture and then expel it as vapour. This is a great advantage, especially for footwear. You will always sweat more in shoes and boots made from synthetic materials. It’s the same with car upholstery and furniture. 

5. Style

The practical properties of leather are matched by its beauty. Whatever the colour or leather type, it will always exude quality. Stand a leather handbag next to synthetic one and see the difference.

6. It’s natural

Leather is a natural fabric and, like other natural fibres, such as cotton and silk, it is much more comfortable against the skin. Many synthetic fibres can be scratchy and uncomfortable. In extreme cases, they can make you itch.

7. Environmentally-friendly

OK, yes leather is a by-product of slaughtering animals for food. But it has greener credentials than synthetic fibres which are chemically manufactured. Although some chemicals are used to treat the hides, this is much less than the industrial quantities used in synthetic manufacture, which contributes to air pollution. Also leather is bio-degradable.

8. Timelessness

Leather is a timeless fabric – it’s never out of fashion. Styles may change, but leather will always be seen as a mark of quality for shoes, bags and other accessories, as well as furniture and high-end car upholstery.

9. Cost

Pricing leather goods involves a ‘how long is a piece of string’ scenario. Basically it depends what you are buying and if it’s from a high-end retailer, designer label or discount store. But, overall, leather is generally affordable. What’s more, it lasts longer than synthetic alternatives, so you get real value for your money.

10. Attractive smell

Last, but not least, real leather smells so good – and it’s natural.