Four Signs That Your Leather Item is Fake

Leather backpack for men

With the begining of the school year around again, it’s time to invest in a good backpack. You cannot go wrong with leather backpacks. Leather backpacks are always in style. Nothing says, “this person knows what’s hip!” quite like leather backpacks. Genuine leather backpacks are durable and worth every penny they cost. However, what does not withstand the test of time are faux-leather backpacks.

A good scam artist can make faux leather look just like the real stuff, making it hard to know if the leather keychains, leather belts, and other leather goods are real or not. However, even an expert leather faker can’t imitate some qualities of genuine leather. Before forking over the dough for a leather backpack — or any leather good, for that matter — make sure you go through this checklist:

Four Ways to Know if a Leather Product is Fake

  1. Do the sniff test.

    No, we’re serious. Even the best fake leather can’t capture the essence of real leather. True leather has a musky smell that fills the soul with satisfaction. You know it; you’re picturing inhaling a lung-full of it right now.

    On the other hand, faux-leather is not made smell-inducing ingredient that genuine leather has in it (raw hide, that is). Faux leather is made of vinyl and other chemical-smelling chemicals. When inspecting a leather item, put it up to the ol’ sniff factory and give it a whiff. If it smells like a log cabin with a blazing fire in the fireplace, it’s real. If it smells like a plastic factory, it’s a giant fake.

  2. Look on the back.

    This might not be possible if the leather backpack you are inspecting has a lining (although if the entire backpack is entirely lined so that you cannot see the back of it at all, this might be a red flag that the manufacturer is trying to prevent you from performing this test). Genuine leather has a smooth, organic backside. You won’t see any threads or materials on the underside of real leather, because nothing but nature made it.

    Meanwhile, artificial leather has a fibrous backside due to the fabric base that leather is made of. Sometimes, this can be covered, but if you look very closely, you’ll see the hand of man (and not nature) on the underside.

  3. Fold it over.

    Leather is the skin of an animal. Animals walk and run and move freely (prior to contributing their leather to the betterment of mankind). Their skin folds back and forth as they move, and so leather also gracefully folds without leaving any crease or marks.

    When you’re dealing with fraudulent leather, however, it did not have the same upbringing that real leather had. The vinyl that faux leather is made of did not run and move freely before becoming a knockoff leather satchel. If you fold fake leather in half, it will resist, and then it will do a clumsy job of folding. It will probably leave a crease.

  4. If you can, put a flame to it.
    This is a very “read the room” kind of test, that is only appropriate in specific circumstances. If you are in a store, don’t do this. Setting unpaid merchandise on fire will get you into hot water (see what we did there?). But a tale-tell sign of real leather is the way it reacts to heat. If you put a lighter up to genuine leather, it has little to no reaction. Maybe it discolors a bit, depending on the sealant on it, which can be buffed out.

    Meanwhile, when you put a lighter up to the fake stuff, it seriously freaks out. If the fire leaves a giant singed hole in the product, and the overwhelming aroma burnt plastic reaches your nose, well kids, it’s a fake!

This school year, using a leather backpack is a killer move. You’ll be hip and cool looking. Your friends will want to be like you. Your books will be in good hands. Your backpack will look just as lovely on the last day of school that it did on the first day of school. As long as you invest in real leather. Make sure it’s real leather.

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