Faux leather is an artificial leather and it comes either in the form of a fabric or finish intended to substitute natural leather in fields of furniture, clothing and upholstery and other such uses where leather can be replaced. This material is prepared in various ways but the most common variety consists of a web of calico coated with boiled linseed oil mixed with dyers and lampblack or other pigments. All these materials are then mixed, compressed and smoothed on a cotton surface by passing them through metal rollers and once the desired material is obtained, to give it a glossy appearance a coat of Copal varnish is applied. To obtain a grained surface, embossed rollers are used.
This is sometimes confused with plastic leather also commonly known as Pleather which is made from plastic. There are various types of faux leather. Some commonly known ones are –
Poromeric imitation leather
Poromeric imitation leather is a fibrous base layer coated with a group of synthetics. Its basic advantage over leather is that it can be cleaned easily with a damp cloth and has a high gloss finish.
However this type remains stiff even after multiple uses.
Koskin is a leather type commonly seen in laptop covers, wallets and other such consumer goods. This is a Swedish product and is made out of cow’s skin.
Another type of artificial leather is Leatherette which is basically made out of fabric base which can either be natural or synthetic and it is covered with a PVC coat. This type is commonly seen on bound book covers and lingerie as well. Like every type of leather, even this has its own merits and demerits. This type is generally seen in low maintenance car seat covers as they do not fade or crack easily like original leather. However, since this material is non-porous it is not advisable to be used for making clothes. Also, if this type catches fire, it can cause severe skin damage.
Pros and cons of Faux Leather
Polyurethane [not PVC] products are recognized as environmental friendly synthetic materials. As no animals are harmed while making this material, this is a viable option for Vegans and Eco-friendly people. This material comes in all kinds of colours and patterns unlike original leather. And unlike original leather, this is durable and does not fade easily. High gloss finishes can be achieved easily. This leather can be cleaned with a damp cloth and requires little maintenance. It does not crack and it is UV fade resistant.
The cons of this material are that it is not breathable and does not develop the same luster and patina as real leather. Original leather is environmentally wasteful as it is the byproduct of the cows that are slaughtered for their meat. It is also softer than faux leather and thus can be torn or punctured easily.
Some international brands that make lifestyle products such as jackets, vests, skirts, handbags of Faux leather are Burberry, Tote, Dolce & Gabbana etc. Faux leather is widely used in interiors as well. They are widely used in furniture making and wall cladding. The Faux leather painting technique is very popular on walls. This technique works well when the lower half of the wall is dark coloured, contrasting with a lighter color top half of the wall. Tips on painting and cleaning or maintaining faux leather are easily available over the internet.