Before we get into it, let's address the elephant in the room.
How to pronounce "Faux Leather".
This one trips up a lot of people, with the most commonly heard version being "Fox Leather". It should be correctly pronounced as "Fo Leather" - "Faux" being French, meaning "false", or "fake".
Quality, Craftsmanship and Design
At TORRO we pride ourselves on the quality and craftsmanship of our products achieved from working with genuine leather. Most of our leathers are aniline leathers which are regarded within the leather industry as one of the highest quality leathers. They are also some of the most expensive leathers to produce given that only the very best condition raw hides are graded as suitable to produce aniline leathers.
What are the different types of leathers?
Leathers which use the top grain layer can be categorised as following:
Aniline – This is a leather with minimal treatment in the tanning process which would alter the natural appearance and finish other than colouring. It would be expected to have more natural imperfections and varying consistency. As a consequence, this is the most expensive top grain leather.
Semi aniline – This leather is commonly treated to add extra properties such as water proofing or adding a gloss patent finish in order to add to the aesthetic or durability.
Pigmented – This is heavily treated leather to make it as durable and consistent in appearance as possible. This is generally for heavy usage products such as sofas.
Nubuck – This is where the grain layer has been sanded to remove all imperfections and has a suede feel, the leather is only gently sanded to remove the very top layer to expose this softer finish which is generally as deep as the bottom of the grain.
Suede – This is a higher quality leather than a nubuck where the top layer has been sanded all the way down to the thicker fibres of the corium to expose a super soft luxurious feeling surface.
Napa or Nappa – Napa is commonly confused as simply a goat leather, napa is any soft and thin leather which has a grain. It is common that these leathers are corrected further with light sanding to remove blemishes and improve the consistency rate which is demanded by consumerism who expect perfect and consistent finishes to goods. There is however nothing better than a leather in its most natural form.
Why we think leather is a superior textile material
There are three key aspects to leather which make it such a superior material. Firstly, there is the strength properties which naturally make it far superior to any man-made alternatives. Secondly the material has a tactile feel which actually can trigger positive brain signals when touched which correspond to how the brain reacts when human skin is touched. Finally, the aesthetic value has resulted in leather products being a staple part of the fashion industry since its inception.
Strength – Leathers are made up of a complex weave, bound together triple helix collagen structure. The actual surface grain of leather is generally the weakest part and it is the corium layer which is tightly packed with this 3D fibrous structure. In this technological age, even 3D printers are unable to replicate the structures and pack them as tight as a natural collagen leather.
An unsplit hide can be very thick and impossible to tear with human strength, think of the equestrian industry and heavy leather saddles and stirrups leathers. Most leathers are split a few times as these thinner layers can be used in various industries from bags to shoe soles and maintain this incredible strength even at much thinner splits.
Tactile – The simple touch of human skin sends the brain signals into overdrive. An MRI scan of a human brain touching their own skin, not to mention another will light up the brain activity like an aerial view of a city at night. The top grain of a leather has shown to replicate some of this activity which helps explain why it is such a sought-after material for accessories like phone covers or bags.
Aesthetic – Leather has been used in the fashion industry since its inception, from jackets to bags to trousers in the 80s. Even before fashion was a thing, our ancestors would use the material for prehistoric apparel. The fashion industry even has a huge volume of faux leathers to satisfy the demand. It appears to be in our DNA to value the appearance of leather in the fashion products we use.
Since leather is a natural product, another sought after property is when the leather develops a unique patina, every leather product begins to tell its only story and wears with the user. Like a pair of worn in jeans the owner of a leather product will be able to spot their product like their own child. With the natural ability to wear and take on unique markings, leather products are a joy to own.
Spotting the difference
On the contrasting side of things, you will find that many companies sell faux leather goods made from synthetic man-made materials that seek to mimic the appearance of genuine leather. Given that faux leather and its synthetic properties are mass produced, you will often find that faux leather goods are considerably cheaper than genuine leather goods.
Despite working with only high-quality leather at TORRO, we do so with accessibility in mind and ensure that TORRO products are priced at an accessible level so that both our products and genuine high-quality leather can be enjoyed and appreciated by as many people as possible.
Of course, with that said the fundamental difference between the two is that genuine leather will be made from animal hides (cowhides are used in TORRO cases and accessories) while faux leather is made from a plastic base and is then subject to treatment with wax and dye in order to create a leather-like like appearance. You will find that genuine leather is truly unique, often featuring natural pores or marks in the leather which undoubtedly adds a deep sense of character and elegance to the product itself. Faux leather, while attempting to appear natural will seem more uniform with any pores or marks created synthetically and will lack the same level of character that you experience with genuine leather.
Being a natural material, genuine leather feels and behaves just like one. It is both breathable and flexible while also generally retaining a strong level of malleability. On the other hand, faux leather has a tendency to remain more rigid and does not feature the same level of give that genuine leather provides. Genuine leather remains durable over time and can last years without getting damaged. If anything, the natural look and patina of genuine leather will improve over time and become more refined and visually distinctive on the surface. Faux leather is not as durable as genuine leather and is more prone to crack or peel with use over time.
An additional characteristic that faux leather will never be able to replicate is that of smell. You will find that genuine leather has very distinctive natural smell, while faux leather will feature a more plastic-like manufactured aroma. Also keep in mind that lesser quality leather and an inferior tanning process can also produce a less pleasant odour. At TORRO we ensure only the highest quality of methods are used, enabling our leather products to maintain the distinctive natural smell you would expect from genuine leather.
Leather Testing & Authenticity
Since 2014, TORRO have been members of the BLC Leather Technology Centre. As members we regularly have our leathers tested and certified as well as testing for durability. We also have the plastics in our inner frames regularly tested.
Caring for your leather
There is nothing quite like the feel, smell and look of genuine leather products, however they do need to be taken care of and will always benefit from occasional maintenance with a nourishing leather balm to help prevent the leather from drying out and micro splits occurring.
Luxury products that don't break the bank!
TORRO provides accessibly priced products to those who settle for nothing less than genuine leather. Check out our phone cases, iPad cases and accessories to satisfy your desire for high quality leather goods and experience genuine leather at its best.