Faking it

Whole I admit I have an exceptional love for leather, sometimes its unjustifiable to splurge a triple figure sum on a luxe shoe or perhaps disagree with the use of animal products. So let’s start by playing a game, take a look at the pictures below, can you tell which is the real deal which is the imitation stuff.

A few shoes that haven’t been on the blog, can you tell which of these are real animal skin? Answers below. Hint: two are real animal skin

You can see that if you’re careful it’s actually really hard to tell them apart. Of course leather is going to feel different when you’re wearing them but visually some of the fake leather look better than the real deal.

Below are a few tips for getting realistic imitation leather as good as some of the examples above. Patent finishes are virtually undistinguishable from the real thing, likewise a material such as Alcantara is arguably superior to it’s suede counterpart, although almost just as expensive. Cheaper imitation suede still looks almost as good, unless you really stick your nose in it.

  • Only buy imitation patent or suede
  • Avoid embossed finishes
  • Boots look best in fake suede
  • Bright colours look better
  • Consider satin, velvet finishes and other fabric finishes
  • Admire Stella McCartney’s leather free leather

When you have great swathes of imitation leather (left) it just simply doesn’t look good. It never ages, and creases like the real stuff, and eventually becomes rubbery. On the other hand with the right finish and used with care (right) it doesn’t look fake at all.

With both real and fake patent finishes, even the expensive stuff will eventually crack, they’re impervious to treatments so all you can do is keep it clean. Fake suede on the other hand should be treated like the real stuff, you can use the same type of suede brushes, and water repellant spray on these, but the best part of the fake stuff is that it doesn’t mind getting wet!

This is probably my favourite deployment of synthetic materials, it’s impossible to tell that it’s not the real stuff, especially the woven section which is fantastic

To end here is the bizarre situation where the real stuff actually looks fake, I don’t understand how it’s humanly possible to make a piece of leather look this bad, but somehow this disaster happened. I impulse bought these, but really they’re a bit of a joke, and honestly I would rather get a good looking fake suede than this.

Quiz answers, clockwise from top left: Polished leather (Rupert Sanderson), embossed imitation leather (Red Herring), imitation suede and woven imitation suede (Zara), python skin (Coach), imitation suede and imitation leather (Primark), sythetic snake print (Lipsy).

Thanks for reading! Let me know how you get on with hunting down nice imitation materials.



  1. I might have guessed the Rupert Sanderson but I’ve have also gone for the Primark ones! Thanks for all the tips about making fakes look good, I love a cheapo version of something I can’t afford.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! There are definitely some things where the cheapo version definitely makes sense. I should also add sandals and peep toes look a lot more expensive from the budget shops.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of my most expensive looking shoes are from Primark! And I have seen some designer shoes that just look cheap! Like you I find patent and suede esque fabrics are pretty indistinguishable when you look at them a lot of the time.
    Another thing that I find can mask a good fake is the colour. If the “fake” shoe is an unusual colour like baby blue, pink, orange etc then they tend to be harder to detect than the natural colours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Worst is when you spend hundreds on shoes only to find they not only look cheap but are made cheaply! Which is why I don’t buy online much anymore Fallen victim a few times though before learning the lesson.


      1. O god that is annoying. I like trying on in person because of that and (as my favourite shoe seller says) if a shoe doesn’t fit properly then it automatically looks cheap! My one exception is ASOS because I have their next day delivery and free returns

        Liked by 1 person

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