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What is Microfiber Leather?

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With improvements in synthetic fabrics and growing support for treating animals humanely, it might come as little surprise that the quality and quantity of leather alternatives are increasing. You might need a program to keep up with the different players.

One recent innovation is microfiber leather. It has a reputation for durability and a realistic feel. The question is whether that reputation is warranted; also, just where does microfiber fit alongside real leather and traditional alternatives.

We put together this guide to help answer those questions. We took a look at microfiber leather and what it’s made out of and compared it against the rest of the field.

What is microfiber leather and what is it made of?

For years, synthetic leathers have been something of a joke. You could tell they were fakes by just looking at them. They didn’t look, smell, or even feel like animal skin.

As demand for better synthetics grew, manufacturers figured out ways to improve those synthetics. Today, they have created microfiber leather, the best synthetic yet.

Other synthetics start by laying down strips of fabric and coating those with polyurethane resin. Microfiber leather starts with what is more accurately called a mat of synthetic fibers woven together and bound together with polyurethane.

That closely mimics the construction of real leather, which substitutes skin fibers for microfiber.

As good as it is, overall, be aware that some microfibers are better than others. Take a close look at both sides of the fabric if possible. The harder it is to distinguish it from leather, the higher quality it is.

How durable is microfiber leather?

various pieces of microfiber leather laid out on a table

Microfiber is more durable than are traditional synthetic layers because it is built as if it is animal skin. More traditional synthetics are simply sheets of material spray painted to look like leather and coated with polyurethane to protect its appearance.

Traditional synthetics are easily damaged. Microfiber leather has the strength of real leather and is the highest-grade of fake leather available today. The highest-quality microfiber leather also has some advantages over real leather. It doesn’t age as quickly and doesn’t peel.

Of course, the real answer depends on how well microfiber leather is maintained. If you don’t properly clean it and abuse it thinking that it’s indestructible you will quickly learn that you were wrong.

Is microfiber leather waterproof?

Real leather is good at resisting water in the same way that your skin resists water. Microfiber leather does a very good job of resisting water, even more so.

By itself, microfiber leather is considered water resistant. That means it will resist water, and microfiber’s small pores resist it very well.

The good news is that like other fabrics, you can make it effectively waterproof with the right products. There are plenty of spray-on products that can close up those pores and make microfiber even more resistant to water.

Is microfiber leather vegan?

Development of microfiber leather was driven to a large degree by concern for animal rights. In the last several years, animal skin alternatives have increased both in quantity and in quality. That includes microfiber leather. You can now find just about any consumer good made from leather made from microfiber leather.

That means it is available as footwear, car upholstery, backpacks, and even leather jackets. Just keep in mind that microfiber itself comes in a range of qualities. While most are pretty good, you’ll want to take a close look at that microfiber jacket you plan to wear on the town.

Microfiber leather consists of millions of nearly microscopic synthetic fibers tightly wound together, with the gaps filled in with polyurethane laminate. None of those include any kind of animal product. That means microfiber leather is vegan.

Microfiber leather vs bonded leather, polyurethane leather, and top grain and split grain leathers

Different pieces of leather put across a table including polyurethane, top grain, split grain and microfiber leather

While microfiber is a high-quality alternative to real leather, that doesn’t mean it’s always the right choice. Let’s stack it up against some of the other choices.

Microfiber is stronger and will last longer than bonded leather, which is mostly just bits and pieces of leather glued together and spraypainted to look like the real thing. It’s also more expensive than cheaply made bonded leather.

If you’re looking for something that looks kind of like leather but don’t want to spend real money on it, bonded isn’t a bad choice. Also, because bonded leather is comprised of a little bit of real leather, it’s not vegan leather.

In truth, microfiber leather is the latest generation of polyurethane leather. It’s of higher quality and not much more expensive. Microfiber is much stronger and less prone to damage and is closer to the appearance and feel of real leather. Traditional polyurethane leather is easily spotted as a fake. Both are considered vegan.

It stacks up well against top-and-full grain leathers, which are the highest quality of the real stuff. Not all microfibers are created equally, however, and some are just higher quality than others. The low-quality options are much cheaper in every respect.

Real leather has a better feel, look, and smell of real leather. When it comes to the good stuff, there’s no getting confused. It’s also a bit stronger and isn’t prone to attracting dust.

Microfiber leather resists water better, even more so if properly treated. It’s biggest appeal is that it isn’t made from animals. Its development was spurred by the fact that a lot of demand for leather alternatives came from people with extra money to spend.


Microfiber leather is a durable, high-quality faux leather. It isn’t just more durable than the other synthetics, it does the best among them at providing leather’s feel and appearance.

It starts with its construction of tightly-woven fibers. The other synthetics don’t have this. It finishes with a polyurethane coating to fill in the gaps and give it its almost-real look. With the right treatments, it can be nearly waterproof. It is also animal friendly.

We hope you found value in this guide. If you did, consider taking a moment to leave us a comment below or even just share this on your social media networks.

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