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What is Synthetic Leather, Anyway?

Updated on October 16, 2009
synthetic leather is often found as a covering material on massage chairs, car seats, and handbags.
synthetic leather is often found as a covering material on massage chairs, car seats, and handbags.

Synthetic leather is not the plastic looking, tacky material that it was in the past. Today’s synthetic leather is made much better than the early versions. Synthetic leather is realistic and used in many different products that once used only real leather. Robotic massage chairs are a popular item that uses synthetic leather since the properties of synthetic leather actually enhance the perform of the chair.

A robotic massage chair can do a better job when it is made of synthetic leather. The leather will hold heat and allow the rollers to work more smoothly than real leather. Many products, just not massage chairs, are now offered in synthetic leather and consumers are loving this new trend.

The Definition of Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather is a man made fabric that looks like leather. It has a leather-like surface and is dyed and treated to make it have the look and feel of real leather. It is often used as a substitute for real leather because it is less expensive and it does not require using a real animal hide to create.

Artificial leather can be dyed a variety of colors. It is durable and stain resistant, as well. Artificial leather can be created to look like any type of leather desired. Many consider it superior to real leather because of its diversity in looks and use.

Types of Synthetic Leather

There are a range of different types of synthetic leather. The type of synthetic leather is usually defined by what materials the leather is made of. The most common type of synthetic leather is pleather. Pleather or plastic leather, is made from plastic. It is very light weight, comes in a range of styles and textures and is easy to clean. Many of the pleather materials on the market are soft and have the feel of real leather.

example of poromeric imitation leather as seen on a massage chair
example of poromeric imitation leather as seen on a massage chair

Poromeric imitation leather is usually a polyester base covered in a plastic coating that is made to resemble leather. It is very durable and easy to clean. It is often criticized for being too stiff, though, and today in mainly used in the making of shoes. Leatherette is made using a cloth base with a PVC cover layer. It is used in many different products. It is almost maintenance free and will never crack or fade. Some other common types of artificial leather include those made of plant materials, such as vegan leather, blended materials made of acrylic and fiber blends and vinyl or PVC artificial leather.

Synthetic Leather Massage Chairs

Synthetic leather is used often in furniture, car seat coverings and clothing. Massage chairs are often made using synthetic leather, especially robotic massage chairs. As mentioned earlier, the massage mechanisms of the chair can work much better with synthetic leather than with real leather because the synthetic material will stretch and give against the rollers of the chair. Additionally, it retains the heat so you get the added benefit of a warm massage, which leads to additional relaxation.

Artificial leather is often chosen for use when there are concerns that consumers may not like the use of real leather. There has been a lot of attention on the cruelty to animals that is caused in the retention of real leather. With the advancements and options in artificial leather, it is possible to get the same look and feel of real leather through an artificial material. Many consumes now actually prefer to buy artificial leather products over real leather products.


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    • profile image

      Barbwire 2 years ago

      Can you use Sentry Home Flea Free Breeze on a synthetic sofa??

    • Lucille Collins profile image

      Lucille Collins 3 years ago from Brampton, Ontario

      Well in my on opinion it is a good that we have alternatives for leathers which is artificial leather. A fabric intended to substitute for leather in fields such as upholstery, clothing, and fabrics, and other uses where a leather-like finish is required but the actual material is cost-prohibitive, unsuitable, or unusable for ethical reasons. This help us to lessen of killing cows and other animals who are source of leathers.

    • profile image

      comebacknader 4 years ago

      With the amount of cows that are killed in inhumane conditions, it seems that switching to faux leather may be the best alternative. If you go on PETA and see their reports on this, it's unreal. Stella McCartney has an all-faux collection and she has a great video on Youtube talking about it. There's a great site that has all faux leather products: look up

    • profile image

      5 years ago

      i'd rather use synthetic leather than have animals suffer.

    • profile image

      Beamer 5 years ago

      So its a cheap product that fools people when not advertized properly like on eBay etc...

      Its the new rip off of today...nice contribution to suckers of the world.

      What is amazing about the article is that people who manufactures/sell etc... this product usually write AMAZING on their junk.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      Oh how i laughed u cant realy think this article is amazing. How boring!!

    • profile image

      natalie 6 years ago


    • profile image

      Richard Burnish 6 years ago

      Synthetic Leather is also used in medium and lower end boxing gloves!

    • profile image

      klsjas 7 years ago

      this is so amazing! synthetic leather is also sometimes used on the outer surface of volleyballs

    • profile image

      abhishek kumar 7 years ago

      its a real amazing for our life & shows comfortability in case of real pure leather.

    • profile image

      kaazaaaa 7 years ago

      i love this article its fab

    • profile image

      lily  7 years ago

      taiwan fairsound enterprise co,.ltd handle in synthetic leather.if you need ,feel free contact with me .

    • relica profile image

      relica 7 years ago from California

      Great information about manmade leather. It reminds me how much things improve with time. Some things are worth reconsidering. Nice hub!

    • profile image

      Sara 7 years ago

      What are the auctal properties of Pleather in terms of strength,preambility etc.,

    • profile image

      Cowhide Argentina 8 years ago

      cowhide argentina, we manufacture cowhide rugs, cowhide and leather products, online store, wholesale and retail sale, natural cowhides, patchwork rugs, dyed cowhide, we ship worldwide, home interior decorating, animal printed rugs, zebra cowhide rugs, leopard cowhide rugs, giraffe cowhide rugs, tigre cowhiderugs, sells cowhide rugs, argentine cowhides, argentinean cowskins