Leather versus synthetics – five ways leather beats manmade products

Leather Vs Synthetics

Leather versus synthetics – five ways leather beats manmade products

20th July 2021

We may be biased, but we’re also know we’re right! We look at the ways leather beats its manmade competitors



Looked after properly, a leather product can last a lifetime or longer. Synthetic alternatives are chiefly used by the fast fashion industry, which relies on a high volume of sales of cheaply made low quality clothes which are then discarded and replaced.

Leather can also be refurbished and repurposed. Other than being cleaned, synthetics can’t be refurbished and, because they are flimsier than most leather, it is difficult to repurpose them.



When leather products are finally discarded, it takes between 25 and 50 years for them to compost. Synthetic products take up to 500 years – at least ten times as long. Many of them also shed harmful microplastics throughout their lifetimes and during their extended biodegradation.


Carbon footprint

As hides are a waste product, they have no direct carbon footprint until the tanning process.  It has been suggested that using leather, rather than sending to landfill to biodegrade, holds carbon in the system.

Leather’s long lifespan, and the fact it needs very little care, means that once manufactured the carbon footprint of leather clothing is much smaller than alternative materials. The carbon footprint of leather production has been steadily reduced over the last 30 years, and the industry is still striving to make further reductions.

Synthetic alternatives to leather are mostly produced using petroleum-based plastics. Production of synthetic alternatives also produces toxic compounds that remain in the environment for many years.



Depending on how it is treated, leather can be used to make anything from the most solid of constructions, like moulded furniture or homeware, to the most delicate, like the daintiest of gloves.

While plastics come in many different forms, leather alternatives are much less adaptable, tending to be uniform in thickness and much more susceptible to damage. Leather becomes more supple with use, synthetics do not.


Look and feel

Some people may prefer the uniform look and cold feel of synthetic leather alternatives. We think there is nothing to beat the natural look and feel of the real thing!


For more on leather facts and figures don’t for get to check out our Resources page!