Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Is your item made from real leather or fake leather? How to tell if leather is real or fake takes detective work.
Contrary to popular belief, smell isn't a 100% confirmation of an item being real leather or "fake" leather. This is only true if the item is brand new AND is manufactured with leather fresh from a tannery or wholesale leather supplier.
If the leather item has been sitting on a retailer’s shelf for an extended period of time, is used from a second hand shop, made from reclaimed leather, or wrapped in a newspaper like material that naturally absorbs the smell - like all things in nature - the smell will deteriorate with time.
Also contrary to popular belief, the "Made in Italy" and “Italian Leather” stamps are not full confirmations of genuine leather. Superior quality genuine leather has been manufactured in the United States since the 1800s by skilled tradesmen from all over the world, from some of which companies still exist today.
Real leather may be treated with Neatsfoot conditioning oils or leather waterproofing that mask the original tannery dyes and chemicals that result in that signature aromatic, leather smell.
Being that there are hundreds of types of animal skins used, grains, finishes, colors, styles, thicknesses, sourcing locations, etc., - your best bet is a visit to your local leather supply shop. This is where we learned the most about the vast variety of leather types within the leather market trade through touch, sight, notating the varieties side-by-side.
When we were starting out, we were only offering reclaimed, handmade, 100% genuine leather fanny packs and personalized gifts. Back then, we sourced our leather from local furniture company scrap donations.
Detective work in trying to smell, pinch, rub, compare each piece of leather we found was a challenging feat. The most surprising discovery was red rot leather flaking. Flaking does not mean that the item is made from "fake" leather. In fact, all leather must be maintained or the supple, full grain finish will flake and decompose like vinyl or bonded leather.
Now, wiser and presently offering 100% genuine, reclaimed (only the Umber leather color option) and brand new Pelt And Post signature leather bags and custom gifts - armed with this info - we gladly share it with you.
For information on the vast variety of leather types out there, visit this detailed leather information guide.
If you have any questions, contact us and we will reply within 1 - 2 business days.