PU Leather - Better than the real thing?
PU leather is fast becoming the material of choice in the apparel industry... but is it better than the real thing??
PU leather, also known as bicast leather or split-leather is a man-made material made with a split leather backing covered with a layer of PU (polyurethane) that is applied to the surface and then embossed. Leather is used in part for the backing and is not generally visible in the finish. PU Leather is used for glossy shoes and handbags because the resulting product has a consistent texture that is easier to work with and is easier to clean and maintain. PU leather can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth. Treating leather with polyurethane gives a uniform shine and a long-lasting "like new" appearance. It is more resistant to scuffing and marking.
Unlike Genuine Animal Leather, PU Leather will not stretch, deteriorate or fade over time. On the flip-side, PU leather will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise "improve with age" that some people favour. New PU leather surfaces can have a slight chemical smell, but this typically dissipates after a short time exposed to air.
There are also the obvious ethical (animal cruelty) reasons why consumers favour PU leather over “Real” leather. Lower grades of leather can be used during the manufacturing process, and thus endangered animals or animals bred for their leather hides are not necessarily used in the manufacture of PU leather.
But the main benefit of PU leather is its price. There is a growing trend for manufacturers to use PU leather because they can produce high quality luxury items at reasonable prices. The end result is a cost-saving passed directly to the customer who can then afford to purchase and own a greater range of luxury items. A customer can thus own several pairs of shoes and several handbags in a range of colours and styles rather than one high –priced real leather alternative.
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