7 ways to tell a genuine leather jacket from a fake
Almost half of Brits have bought counterfeit goods in the last 12 months with ¼ of those admitting they knew the items were fake. Even so, if you did or you didn’t know you weren’t buying a genuine item, the point is, would you be able to distinguish a genuine product from a fake? Because there are some really great fake items readily available, it can be tough to actually spot counterfeit goods.
So if you’ve got your eye on a leather jacket that you think is at a price that is too good to be true, the chances are you’ve made your first fake discovery. So what other ways are there that can help you distinguish between the real deal and a replica special?
Here are 7 ways to tell a genuine leather jacket from a fake.
1. Read the label.
Real leather wants to let the world know that it’s real leather, that’s part of what makes it unique and warrants the price for it. Real leather will tell you on the label that it’s real leather, 100 % leather, full grain leather, made with animal products, you get the gist.
For ‘man made materials’ read synthetic leather. If the label is conspicuously absent, or is a little sketchy on the details, the manufacturer isn’t forgetful, they are hiding something. Put it back. It ain’t a genuine leather jacket.
2. Check the price tag.
We all love to snare a bargain, it’s imprinted on our DNA to sniff out a discount at 100 yards, but if you see a ‘genuine leather jacket’ being sold for a song, you know that you’re either in a charity shop, in which case, you might actually be getting a bargain (carry out the rest of your genuine leather jacket checks just in case), or you’re looking at a knock off.
In short, if the price seems too good to be true, the leather jacket is a fake.
3. Go in close.
Genuine leather, just like the skin on our bodies, is riddled with flaws and imperfections. In fact, that is what makes it so wonderful. It is a landscape of pores and creases. No two pieces of leather are the same because of these differences.
So if you have come face to face with a wall of perfect, identikit leather jackets, odds are, they ain’t genuine leather. In fact, if the surface of the ‘leather’ is incredibly regular, you are probably looking at a machine made piece of leather, most likely bonded leather*.
4. Get touchy feely.
Don’t be afraid to touch the leather jacket, in fact, work it between your fingers. Genuine leather reacts like our skin does when you pinch it together, it gets a little wrinkly and then stretches out when you pull it apart. Fake leather on the other hand won’t budge.
Fake leather will remain smooth and perfect whatever you do to manipulate it. In fact, press your fingers into it: real leather will react the same way as your skin does when you press into it, with a ripple of wrinkles, fake leather will just depress down whilst retaining its shape.
5. Sniff it.
No, genuinely, sniff it.
If you’ve ever smelled real leather, you’ll instantly recognise that distinct, musty, tangy, leather smell. A naturally occuring, organic quality that is yet to be reproduced accurately. Your nose won’t let you down.
If your jacket has an aroma akin to chemicals, you have in your hands a bonafide fake. Put it down and walk away. Real leather will smell of real leather, fake leather will smell of shame and plastic.
6. Burn it.
OK, maybe only do this once you own the jacket, but a great way to test whether you have a genuine leather jacket or fake leather jacket, if you are truly flummoxed, is with a flame.
Genuine leather is skin and will char on being burned, producing that familiar burnt hair smell. Fake leather will catch light and smell like burning chemicals and plastic.
7. Do the water test.
Sprinkle a few drops of water on the leather, if it absorbs them in a matter of seconds, you have genuine leather in your hands. If the water pools on top of the fabric, you’re looking at an imitation.
Of course, like the burning test, only do this on a section of the jacket that is hidden like under the collar or on the inside of a cuff. You don’t want to ruin your genuine leather jacket, if that is what you have.
*What is bonded leather?
If you ever come across a product called bonded leather, run. Don’t be lured in by that too good to miss bargain of a leather jacket, yes it may contain some leather, but don’t be fooled, that jacket is about as genuine as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Bonded leather is the scrag ends of leather production. The mechanically recovered meat of the leather goods world.
It is essentially the scrap pieces of leather melded together, ground down and reconstituted into a piece of material and bound together on a fibre sheet with polyurethane or latex to form ‘leather’. It’s the equivalent of eating a McDonald’s chicken nugget in comparison to chowing down on Tom Kerridge’s roast chicken. Don’t be suckered in with this cheap impersonator, it is not the real deal.