Is It Leather

Why “Vegan Leather” is Misleading Marketing

Table of contents

What is “Vegan Leather?”

“Vegan Leather” is an alternative synthetic material that mimics leather. It is often created from artificial plastics or other materials, as opposed to the hide of an animal.

Where is “Vegan Leather” Found?

“Vegan Leather” products have become commonplace in the automotive seating industry, the shoe industry, the fashion industry, the furniture industry, and more.

Why Is “Vegan Leather” Confusing?

The term “Vegan Leather” is misleading. For starters, the words “vegan” and “leather” are oxymorons as they are contradictory terms. Vegan means that something contains no animal products, while leather is a material made distinctly from the skin of an animal. Instead of calling products “vegan leather,” they should be called what they are… fake or synthetic! Fake Leather, Faux Leather, and imitation leather are much more accurate terms that at least convey the truth about the product. Marketers referring to fake leather alternative products as “Vegan Leather” or “Leatherette” or “PU Leather” is confusing to many consumers. This confusion is reflected by the data as well. According to an excellent article from, 30% of consumers believe that vegan leather is (at least partly) made from an animal hide while 55% of consumers believe “PU Leather” (Made from polyurethane plastic) is partly made from animal hide. Both figures represent a concerning trend, some consumers are likely buying products they believe to contain leather, when they are NOT actually made from leather. A big part of this problem likely stems from the unclear and confusing names of these alternative products.

Why Should You Care about “Vegan Leather”?

How would you feel if you bought your wife a beautiful diamond ring, and then later found that it was a fake (cubic zirconia) diamond? I would imagine that you would be pretty upset. This is how consumers should rightfully feel when they realize that the car, furniture, shoes, purse, or handbag, that they bought do not actually contain real leather. If you pay a premium price for a product, you deserve to have the confidence to know that you are receiving the high-quality product that you paid for. This is especially true when you consider the quality issues that have surfaced with fake leather products. Fake leather often looks nice at first, but is commonly reported to be less durable than real leather. This lack of durability, combined with the common usage of Polyurethane and Polyvinyl chloride, leaves many consumers feeling dissapointed when they realize that they unintentionally purchased fake leather.

What You Can Do about “Vegan Leather”?

It’s simple. When you are buying a new car, a new pair of shoes, a new piece of furniture, etc… Make sure that you make it clear you do NOT want fake leather. Communicate up front with your retailer that you are seeking real leather. Once you are presented with a product that appears to be leather, ask for proof by asking to see a real leather label or certificate that proves it is actually leather. You may also attempt to verify if the product is real leather by conducting your own basic test. Feel free to visit our “Real vs Fake” page on our website for guidance on how to do so. We hope you find this article helpful in getting the real leather you deserve!


Misleading leather labels and consumer confusion. (n.d.). One 4 Leather.

Meryl Siegman

Meryl Siegman

Meryl Siegman is a professional content writer with a rich background in the leather industry. As the owner of Cortina Leathers for over 30 years, she gained her knowledge of leather making in Arzignano, Italy, where she lived for three years as a leather purchaser. During her tenure at Cortina Leathers, she taught sales reps and clients about leather technology as a certified Continuing Education Unit (CEU) instructor and served as a guest lecturer at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Currently, she consults and writes content for a number of clients in various sectors of the leather industry, including furniture and accessories.

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