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A Guide To Pleather: Faux Leather Care

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Pleather: A New York City Fashion Staple

Faux leather, or "Pleather" is fantastic. A favorite from rocker girls, to hipsters, to NYU & FIT fashionistas, pleather is everywhere. It's less expensive than real leather, feels and looks almost exactly the same, and is best of all, ethically sourced. An added benefit? Faux leather is much easier to clean and care for than its natural counterpart!

Image via Vogue

Image via Vogue

History Of Faux Leather

Under the name artificial leather, faux leather was originally  designed as an alternative leather substitue for upholstery. Some early faux leathers were made with a web of  “calico” fabric, coated with boiled linseed oil and mixed with pigments. These were then layered, and spread over cotton and pressed with rollers. It then was passed through  various embossing rollers to give it a specific grain.

Faux Leather Can Sometimes Be Truly Indistinguishable

Faux Leather Can Sometimes Be Truly Indistinguishable

Types Of Faux Leather

Poromeric Imitation Leather

Sometimes referred to as poromerics, poromeric imitation leather are a group of synthetic “breathable” leather substitutes made from plastic coating ( usually polyurethane) on a fibrous base layer ( typically polyester). The term “Poromeric” was coined by DuPont . The first Poromeric material was DuPont’s discontinued  Corfam which was introduced in 1963. Corfam’s advantages over natural leather were its durability, high gloss finish and ease of clean. Its disadvantages were its lack of breathability, stiffness and confusion with other faux leathers. Corfam is still used today on many materials after it was sold to a Polish company in 1971.


Koskin is the material that is most widely used on a variety of CD/DVD sleeve cases, and laptop carrying bags.


Leatherette is a form of artificial leather, usually made by covering a fabric base with plastic. The fabric can be made of a natural or a synthetic fibre which is then covered with a soft PVC layer.

Leatherette is one of the more popular materials for faux leather jackets, faux leather goth and nightclub wear, faux leather leggings, faux leather pants, bags, shoes and much more.

A disadvantage of plastic “leatherette” is that it is not porous and does not allow air to pass through it; thus, sweat can accumulate if it is used for clothing, car seat coverings, etc. One of its primary advantages, especially in cars, is that it requires little maintenance in comparison to leather, and does not crack or fade as easily.

During a fire, leatherette may cause serious skin damage, because it burns more vigorously than leather and can melt.

Image via

Image via

Faux Leather Care

Faux leather is great because it is pretty easy to clean with just water and detergent. I would always test on a small area before you go ahead with the rest of the piece.

1. You can mix up some liquid dish detergent with warm water in a bucket and use a soft bristle brush to scrub your garment and then rinse with cold water. You may want to check if your garment can be machine washed. I would probably stay away from machine washing as it can start to wear on the finish. If you're afraid to clean it yourself, you can always call some professionals who can take great care of it for you.

2. Hang drying is the most important step! This is a crucial step because faux leather is made of PVC or some other kind of synthetic fabric and will either shrink and distort or melt. You could end up ruining other clothes by getting melted pieces of PVC on them.

3. Even though this material is not real leather, it can definitely crack and distort. I would find some PVC moisturizer and use that in small areas. You are going to want to make sure you keep your “Faux Leather” garments clean and not wash them too often. Over time the finish of the material can start to become brittle and flake right off. I personally have had this happen to shoes I wore only after a month.

Meurice is a family-owned garment care specialist. We've been cleaning and restoring designer attire for over 50 years and we're passionate about quality craftsmanship and enjoy sharing our knowledge with our readers. 

Lynn Luong