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.