The public perception of leather sofas has come a long way. Up until a few years ago, leather couches were seen as unaffordable, ultra-luxurious, and would set back the owner by several lakhs. Then the market got flooded with all sorts of low-cost sofas claiming to be leather - leaving people truly confused. In this article, we will take a look at the meaning of several terms like genuine leather, vegan leather, PU leather / leatherette, and a few others.
First, let’s make the distinction between real and fake leather. Real leather is an animal product - a hide that has been tanned to give it the longevity, durability and flexibility it needs. If taken care of properly, real leather will last you decades. It’s quite common for two generations of a family to grow up playing games on the same leather sofa.
On the other hand we have new age leather substitutes like PU leather, PVC leather, and vegan leather. PU (polyurethane) leather is nothing but plastic: a sheet of polyurethane is glued onto a backing of fabric and is then embossed with a skin-like pattern to make it look as if it’s real leather. PVC leather follows the same logic, they simply use PVC instead of PU. Both of these are plastic and are quite harmful to the environment - they are not biodegradable, they are nearly impossible to recycle and they may contain plenty of harmful chemicals like dioxins, phthalates, etc.
Vegan leather is an umbrella term for any product resembling leather but not made from animal products. PU and PVC leather are commonly sold under the guise of vegan leather. Vegan leather also covers various plant-based leather substitutes like mango leather, cactus leather etc. While these are surely a better alternative than PU or PVC leather, the problem is that plant fibres do not naturally form bonds - so a certain amount of polymer is added to the mix, just to make the material stable. In essence, there is no environment-friendly alternative to leather at the moment.
PU / PVC / Vegan leathers have a rather short lifespan. PU leather is known to crack and crumble in under five years. Most buyers are unaware of this at the time of purchase, and it becomes an additional headache to replace the product in such a short period of time.
With simple cleaning and maintenance procedures, real leather furniture can remain comfortable, attractive and last forever. That’s why at NeverEver we only use genuine leather across our entire range.