What is “Leatherette”? And Why Does it Make Great Gifts?

By Carolyn Mitchell

Many synthetic materials have recently appeared on the market to compete against natural leather. Leatherette is the most common. It’s a flat textile strikingly similar to processed, genuine leather.

It typically consists of a polymer covering and a carrier layer. Fabric, non-woven material, cotton or synthetic fibers, or paper can make up the carrier layer. For decades, leatherette has been a go-to choice for simplifying production, keeping costs down, and giving consumers ample options when buying gifts and goods.

How is Leatherette Made?

When you cover fabric in a polymer layer, you get leatherette. The textile layer gives leatherette its softness and flexibility, while the polymer (plastic) layers make it tough and durable. Some plastic polymers in leatherette are air-permeable, but most are air and water-resistant. After drying and ironing, leatherette is dyed to resemble natural leather.

High-quality leather imitations are more and more common. Most are made using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques that create non-woven fabrics from microfibers. The result is almost identical to natural leather and feels softer to the touch than “pleather” made with more outdated methods. Non-woven microfibers enable air and moisture to flow through, but not water. That’s what makes modern leatherette clothing cooling and comfortable.

What is "Leatherette"? A leather purse
Photo by Merry Six on Unsplash

Leather and Leatherette: What’s the Difference?

Real leather is processed animal skin from sheep, goats, cows, and pigs. Animal skins give natural leather with varying thickness, elasticity, and texture depending on their age. This makes their coloring slightly more varied than leatherette, which is often manufactured in uniform colors and textures. Since leatherette is produced in rolls rather than uneven pieces, it’s easier to work with and has fewer imperfections. And, of course, no animals are harmed when making leatherette.

Why Leatherette?

Leatherette has been a popular replacement for natural leather for decades. Here’s why more and more people choose leatherette:

  • It’s elegant and sophisticated, just like real leather, but doesn’t harm animals to produce.
  • It’s available in a wide range of sizes and colors.
  • So many items can be made in leatherette, and the costs to purchase those products are usually much lower than genuine leather.
  • Leatherette is an extremely flexible material with excellent elastic properties.
  • It’s scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and breathable.
  • It has high resistance to the sun but also excellent resistance to freezing.

Leatherette products are amazing gifts because you can be confident you’re giving someone a high-quality gift, without going over budget or against your conscience. Many gifts can be personalized with meaningful names, dates, initials, or other inscriptions. With personalized leatherette gifts, your loved one gets the joy of receiving something just as beautiful as laser-engraved leather without any animals being harmed in the process. Here are some of our favorite leatherette products for any occasion.

Leatherette Care for Gifts Made to Last

As a courtesy, make sure whoever is receiving their personalized gift knows how to care for leatherette. Here are the basics:

A damp cloth is all they need to remove any stains from leatherette. If a dirty spot appears, it can be easily wiped clean with a little water on a soft, microfiber cloth. A 1:1 rubbing alcohol: water solution is ideal if water alone doesn’t remove stains. There are also products available to treat leatherette to make it more stain-resistant.

Your loved one should use cleaning methods recommended by the manufacturer for any significant stains. If the gift shipped to them has already been stained or damaged, they should contact the seller right away for an exchange.

What is "Leatherette"? Leather shoes and a wallet.
Photo by Marcin Kempa on Unsplash

9 Cruelty-Free Leatherette Gifts They’ll Love

  1. Wallets

A high-quality leatherette wallet is a stylish gift that will last a long time. They’re available in a variety of styles, colors, sizes, and shapes, so you can find one for every taste. Adding a monogram on the front, or an inscription on the inside is a great way to personalize something practical.

  1. Journals and Notebooks

Leatherette journals and notebooks make thoughtful presents for the creative, executive, or brainstormer in your life. Help your favorite superhero do it all by tracking all their activities, projects, and goals in one place. These portable presents are great for anyone you know who is about to graduate, start a new job, or take on a new challenge.

  1. Drink Coasters

Leatherette drink coasters are a chic home accessory that protects your most valuable home furnishings while enhancing your decor. Their non-slip backs prevent spills, so your favorite host can focus on entertaining rather than cleanup. Leatherette coasters are great gifts anytime but are especially appreciated as housewarming or host gifts.

  1. Passport Covers

It’s a good idea to protect the passport with a stylish case that keeps it from getting confused with other travelers’ documents. Leatherette passport covers are perfect for anyone who enjoys traveling and likes to keep everything in its place when it’s time for their next adventure. If your loved one is leaving home for the first time, adding an engraved message of love and support to the passport cover is a wonderful personal touch.

  1. Bags

Since the polyurethane in leatherette has excellent wear resistance, bags made from leatherette are durable and beautiful. Leatherette material is characterized by its malleability, so you can find a leatherette bag in whatever style or shape your loved one likes best. With proper care, a leatherette bag will last just as long as leather, so it can be carried and admired for years to come.

  1. Luggage tags

Like passport covers, leatherette luggage tags are a fantastic gift for the jet-setter in your life. They may be small, but without them, even a short trip could become extremely stressful and complicated. With the leatherette tags, you can quickly and easily identify your luggage in any situation, making your trip easy and stress-free. Numerous elegant, long-lasting leatherette luggage tags can be laser engraved for a bit more personalization. And unlike those flimsy paper tags, they’ll stay put in transit, so your loved one won’t be delayed looking for their luggage at their final destination.

  1. Flask Covers

Leatherette flask covers give a timeless feel to this classic accessory. Flasks make great gifts for bridesmaids, groomsmen, or any group of friends you want to show appreciation for. Because they’re compact, it’s easy for loved ones who had to travel to take their flask back home. Adding initials to leatherette flasks is a great way to give them a personal touch so they don’t get lost or misplaced during a busy gathering or big event.

  1. Shoes

Leatherette shoes are plentiful, and there’s a near-infinite variety of styles and colors to choose from. Boots, pumps, or dress shoes, your loved one can be ready for their next date night or interview with a little something special from you. Leatherette shoes are “breathable” and do not allow moisture to permeate, so feet stay cool and dry, even on a long day. Caring for leatherette shoes is simple, and they don’t require the complicated upkeep some genuine leather shoes might.

  1. Armchairs

Leatherette armchairs may seem like an expensive gift idea, but they’re much more affordable than genuine leather armchairs. The cost of leatherette is 2 times lower than real leather. It can be useful for outdoor furniture, even in warmer, more humid environments. Their durable material will remain resilient with only minor upkeep and maintenance. And it’s easy to find a style and color that accents any room decor. For newlyweds, graduates, or first-time homeowners, leatherette armchairs are a thoughtful gift that will make a great impression on your friends and their guests.

What is "Leatherette"? A leather wallet pouch
Photo by Konstantin Evdokimov on Unsplash

Choosing the Right Leatherette Gift

With so many options to choose from, finding the right leatherette gift might seem daunting. To find the best fit, think about your loved one, and keep your budget in mind. Here are some points to consider before making a purchase:

  • What are their interests? Do they love fashion and design? Are they constantly looking for their next big idea? Thinking through their passions and talents can help you find a leatherette gift that will get lots of use and lots of love.
  • What are their future plans? If a move or a big trip is in their future, it may make more sense to get them a small, portable leatherette gift they’ll have with them while taking those next steps. If they’re looking to put down roots, a larger gift might be more appropriate.
  • Are you buying gifts for a group of friends? Personalizing a batch of otherwise identical leatherette gifts is a practical, affordable way to make everyone feel special without overspending.
  • Do you feel good about the seller? Do they prioritize sustainability and ethical practices including, and beyond, making vegan leather gifts? If so, you can feel good about supporting them.

The great thing about leatherette is its incredible flexibility and versatility. There’s something for every interest, and you can find high-quality gifts at a range of price points. Whatever you decide on, your loved ones can rest assured that the leatherette gifts they receive are a cruelty-free alternative to genuine leather that doesn’t sacrifice any of the beauty, quality, or durability people have come to expect from leather goods.