What is artificial leather and what is it made of

Despite the abundance of goods made from genuine leather, their artificial substitute is no less popular among men and women. Manufacturers offer a wide range of bags, shoes and clothes of various colors and qualities.

Artificial Leather Definition

Leatherette is a polymeric material used instead of genuine leather. Examples of leatherette are: dermatin, polyvinyl chloride, tarpaulin, polyurethane, etc.

What are they made of?

There are several manufacturing techniques. The simplest method is the direct and calender method, when a coating and a texture pattern are applied to the base.

A more sophisticated technique is used for the manufacture of leatherette using the portable method. Here, vinyl layers are applied to a preparatory paper base having a relief structure, and then a textile backing.

Next, the paper web is removed from the workpiece and placed in a special drying machine, where all layers are finally bonded to each other.

Reference! Other production methods are also used: lamination and lamination.

How to do it yourself?

Selection of the basis (fleecy part)

The inner layer of leatherette determines the characteristics of the future product. When choosing clothes, shoes or accessories, you should pay attention to the wrong surface of the product.


Leatherette and at the same time durable are leather substitutes made on a knitted substrate. They have heat-shielding properties. Such artificial leather is often used in the manufacture of gloves or outerwear.

the cloth

Durable and dense materials are used for the production of fabric-based leather substitutes. They are quite expensive and have low extensibility. In the manufacturing process, the risk of marriage is likely to occur, which affects the quality of the product during wear.

Non woven backing

As part of such a fabric, like fabrics, there are threads. Only they are not intertwined, but are connected by special protective impregnations. Such a canvas is most often used in the manufacture of leatherette.


Such a material will have low strength, lack of extensibility and high wettability.

Selection of the upper polymer layer (depending on the purpose of the skin)

Among leatherette products, there are abbreviations in the form of “PU” (polyurethane) and “PVC” (polyvinyl chloride). The structure, mechanical properties of the material directly depend on the type of polymers that are used to create the leatherette.

Polyurethane (PU)

This polymer gives the product strength characteristics and increased ductility. PU has high resistance to high and low temperatures, as well as hygroscopicity.

It is very difficult to distinguish polyurethane from other non-natural materials. Externally, PU is very similar to genuine leather and does not have a smell, unlike PVC.

Polyvinyl chloride

It is obtained as a result of the synthesis of vinyl chloride. It is not hygroscopic and not frost-resistant, has an unpleasant odor. The positive properties include:

  • resistance to chemical compounds (acids, alkalis, solvents);
  • does not burn when interacting with air;
  • low cost.

IMPORTANT! Many manufacturers make multi-layer leatherette. If the seller proves that you have polyurethane, but the product smells unpleasant, you can be sure that there is a polyvinyl chloride sheet under the PU layer.

Finishing, fastening

The last step in the manufacture of leatherette is the processing of the last layer. If the product is made by a simple method, the surface is ground, embossed or painted. If it is made by hand, the external coating is laid at the first stage of production using the texture of the paper layer.

Reference! Using various dyes, they achieve any shades that imitate animal skins. The result is a plain or multi-color canvas.


Thanks to artificial substitutes, mankind has solved the problem of a shortage of natural materials. Complex technological processes, various additives eliminate various imperfections in leatherette, increase their strength and softness. Things from them turn out practical and universal in the process of wearing.