Pictured above are two pair of leather baby shoes, found at a local thrift store. These are for two vintage dolls in my collection. The terms, “leather” and “PU” are in question today. In our modern tech world, there are many alternatives to genuine leather. These alternatives are often called man-made and synthetic. PU, polyurethane, is one such material. It is easy to care for, requiring no professional cleaning methods. Genuine leather, however, does require professional cleaning methods, thus can be costly. On the other hand, PU can crack and stretch considerably over time, where as leather usually does not [for many years, any way].

One way to determine the difference between the synthetics and genuine leather is to simply look at the back side. Genuine leather (animal skins) will have some blemishes and rougher surface due to being a material from nature. PU and other synthetics are usually smooth or lined with smooth fabrics. Many items on today’s market are actually leather/synthetic combinations.

For some items, a synthetic material might actually be a better choice due to the easier care and typically less cost to purchase. However, for heavier stressed items such as foot wear and belts, genuine leather would likely be a better choice. Leather usually lasts much longer than most synthetics. So, decide how much wear ‘n tear your item will be receiving. Also consider the use for the item. For example, a smart phone case- most people purchase a new smart phone every six to 12 months. Will the case fit the new smart phone? Likely not. In that situation, a synthetic material would be more cost effective. When purchasing items, if the content is not fully stated, ask the seller/clerk. Advertising and item as “leather PU”, after all, does sound a bit deceptive and inaccurate. It is always best to ask before purchasing instead of afterwards. Happy shopping to you all!