Fabric: The three amigos–Leather, Pleather and Vinyl

There is nothing quite like the feel of a lamb leather jacket or an aniline dyed leather sofa.  But there is also nothing like the expense involved in these items or the required cleaning methods that can be time consuming and expensive.  Fortunately for many of us there are affordable options.  But what is the difference between real leather, pleather and vinyl and which one is right for your project?


Leather is the hide of an animal thay may include cowhide, lamb, deer and many other animals. The hide is cleaned and the hair is removed before it is tanned.  This makes the leather smooth and flexible and ready to be used in fashion and upholstery. The leather can be dyed in several different colors.  Aniline dyed leather is considered the finest of leather and allows the dye to penetrae without affecting the grain of the hide.


Pleather is a slang term that describes a faux leather fabric.  It is made of polyurethane and resembles the look and feel of the real thing.  Originally thought to be a cheap imitation, many people today prefer pleather as it is animal friendly.  It is affordable, easy to clean and more supple than leather.  It can be used for casual upholstery jobs, clothing, costumes and crafts and comes in many fashionable colors.


Vinyl is another faux leather fabric that is made from a plastic resin.  It has been used for several years in many different applications.  Vinyl fabric can be used in home decorating projects to cover chair seats, create fun items like bean bag chairs and ottomans, colorful headboards for kid’s rooms, craft projects, boat and rv upholstery.  It is soil and stain resistant as well as moisture resistant and easy to clean and comes in many different colors and patterns.