FRANKFURT (dpa) – It is very difficult for the average person to distinguish between synthetic and genuine leather, so there is no embarrassment in asking a merchant if a bag is made of real leather, a German expert says.
“Synthetic leather is so well made that you cannot tell if it’s real or not at first glance,” explains Thomas Schroeer from a trade association, the German Leather Federation.
In most cases smell and touch are not a reliable guide. Not every type of leather has the typical odour associated with the material. The absence of that smell is no indication that the material is an imitation.
Only very cheaply produced synthetic leather feels like plastic to the touch.
Products sometimes carry a “genuine leather” label to show they are from cowhide and other skins. Otherwise, asking your retailer can be the best guide to whether a product is made from an animal or is chemical-factory leather.
Buying leather goods on a flea market means you cannot be 100-per-cent sure you will get a bag or pair of shoes made from real leather or not.