If you’re a generally avid shopper, you would’ve come across the term ‘genuine leather’ before. Almost every leather item has a description accompanying it to describe its quality - and ‘genuine leather’ is probably the most common.
Ever wondered about the quality of leather when you buy leather products marked as ‘genuine leather’? then the power of marketing has worked. Understandably, putting the words of ‘genuine’ and ‘leather’ together would evoke feelings of quality and satisfaction. ‘Genuine leather’ doesn’t mean quality most of the time - it could mean something completely different.
Have you seen this label before?
The Meaning of Genuine
The key to this marketing trick lies in the definition of ‘genuine’ - the word itself refers to something being true, real, actual, or authentic. No indication about the high quality of the leather itself, it only means that the leather you see is made out of real leather material or comprising 100% leather.
This means that the term ‘genuine leather’ could mean leather of any quality - good and bad. It is important to distinguish between leather grades (we will go into more detail in a future post) when it comes to understanding how the term manages to deceive shoppers. Arranged by quality, Full-grain, top-grain, and split leathers are generally considered as genuine leathers, whereby they are 100% made from natural leather. Bonded leather doesn’t fall under this category as synthetic binders are used.
Contrary to what other leather sites may say, ‘genuine leather’ doesn’t mean the worst leather grade, e.g. split leather. It is only a collective term that indicates a product is made out of real leather, the same way you would categorize a hawker stall and a restaurant as real food establishments. You may encounter items of the highest leather grade, e.g. full-grain, that is labelled as ‘genuine leather’.
However, because of its flexible meaning, fashion brands commonly take advantage of consumers’ lack of understanding regarding ‘genuine leather’ by labelling cheap split leathers as ‘genuine leather’, giving them the impression of quality and leaving them disappointed when they realize it isn’t.
How do I protect myself?
With a new understanding of what ‘genuine leather’ actually is, it might be beneficial for you, as a consumer, to do a bit more research on a leather product before actually deciding to purchase it - either by yourself or by asking a salesperson. It’s important to be clear on what quality of leather you’re going to get with your purchase.
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