Imitation Fabrics Are the Real Deal!

pu leather fabric purse

The twentieth century updated countless age-old traditions. The graceful Sunday stroll was streamlined into a Sunday ride. The timeless art of letter writing was honed to a quick email or IM chat. Even the archaic book was shown the light of progress in a new, sleeker Kindle. Nevertheless, in the age of technological leaps and bounds, oftentimes progress doesn’t worry about practicality or productivity—its wild-eyed inventors are too strictly concerned with the latest (and not so much the greatest). Enter the faux franchise!  This new line of materials seems to be all the fuss and fab, without any of the muss and gab.

Pleather, a term coined in the 1970’s (combining “plastic” and “leather”) is at the center of the faux fabric world. Faux leather has been produced in the United States since the 1940’s and is used in many different products, in addition to jackets and upholstery. Some other uses are shoes, automobile interiors, toys for children, and airplane wings (not actually in the pleather form).

However, Imitation leather really is a very misleading idiom. Imitation leather is comprised of many different materials, products and processes. Some of which were discovered as far back as the 19th century, while others are as contemporary as a hair cut. The various materials range from matte vinyl, to 100% polyester products, and even some that are just a coat of treatment on cotton or canvas.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC for short) and Polyurethane are the two most common compounds, the former being the original. PVC is created by replacing one of the hydrogen atoms in vinyl groups with a chloride group. The resulting product is then blended with other chemicals to create the form of plastic known today for its durability and easy maintenance.

While PVC enjoyed much success in the manufacturing world, as a fabric imitation leather was criticized as “artificial-feeling” and “too adhesive” under warmer conditions. In response to this complaint, the DuPont Company engineered a form of fake leather with pores in it. This idea would change fabric history forever. Adding pores allowed the fake leather to “breathe,” which in turn made it much more comfortable against skin. Faux leather was now a viable alternative to traditional fabric.

Today, Polyurethane is the most common form of imitation leather. What is so notable about this fabric is that, in spite of the microfiber pores, it is not absorbent. This allows it to be resistant to stains and very easy to clean. In addition, fake leather is slower to fade than traditional fabrics, even in direct sunlight! It also holds its shape and texture longer than organic blends. These days millions of people are enjoying the many features of fake leather in their living rooms and their lives.

Pictured above is a very interesting faux leather bench seat. With its blend of art deco and timeless style, this chair would fit nicely along a wall or a furniture arrangement. The neutral dark brown and smooth feel of this seat allows it to complement many different-themed rooms, from earth tone to brighter hues. This piece would also suit a stately foyer. The secret to its versatility is the fake leather. With Pleather the possibilities are boundless.

In spite of this, imitation leather has only recently received the respect it has long deserved. From a house in the Hamptons to a home in Harlem, this flexible fabric can match and improve almost any setting, limited only by the designer. So many people are enjoying the features of matte vinyl in their living rooms and their lives, don’t you think it’s time you tried fake leather on faux yourself?

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