Faux Leathers are otherwise knows as leatherette, fake leather and artificial leather. We have a short article on their many benefits for interior designer <here>.
KOTHEA® are the UK’s leading producer of fine, performance faux leathers for the contract market.
We have some of the very highest performance faux leather fabrics with Martindale Rub Test results in excess of 200,000…some of the highest in Europe. You can specify this quality of product knowing that you can totally trust its abrasion resistance characteristics.
We have a broad range of collections covering the varied environmental needs of hospitality (spas, restaurants, hotels), marine (yachts), office and household (apartment, villa) usage. Our technical innovation gives the best fabrics and our designers the best patterns and extensive colour palettes.
Faux leather looks like leather. It is a fabric made out of materials other than leather. Faux is the French for ‘fake’. So it is fake leather. It is cheaper than natural leather and much easier to work with in many cases. As well as a fabric for interiors it is used in many industries: it could be in your car or could make the case covering your iPAD. In the interior design world you would use it for: upholstery and wall-covering but also to cover, doors, table-tops, bar stools, bars, etc.
Types of Faux Leather
There are two main chemical types of faux leather: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU). Both types are used in making clothing, upholstery, and product covers; typically KOTHEA use PVC For our faux leathers. We are able to obtain fine faux leathers with amazing properties as a fabric including extremely high Martindale Rub test scores in excess of 200,000 and extremely accurate animal hide pattern copies.
Compared to Real Leather
Sometimes you can’t tell the difference unless you know what to look for. Most obviously natural leather will not have any kind of repeatable pattern. Faux leather will have a degree of ‘repeat’ but might be sufficiently subtle that you do not notice it. Natural leather has visible and irregular pores and rough edges.
Natural leather tends to have a smoother feel whereas some faux leather may well feel like plastic BUT other faux leathers will feel very similar to the natural leather. The ‘smell’ may be chemically but this could be either the chemicals that have been used to treat the natural leather or the chemicals in the faux leather. A VERY chemically smell that sticks to your hand is probably a faux leather – although most faux leathers will not have this property.
Pros and Cons
Faux leather can generally be made to have very good consistency of colour across batches and in theory can be made to any required colour (in sufficient quantity). Similarly texture and pattern can be varied and/or reproduced much more easily than with a natural product.
Care and maintenance of faux leather is greatly superior to natural leather which requires conditioning. Faux leather can be bought by the metre whereas natural leather must necessarily be bought by ‘the hide’ and hence has join, length and width constraints not necessarily found in the faux alternative. Faux leather generally has superior light fastness and durability.
The animal lover will appreciate that faux leather does not require animals to die. But then again many animals die each year to support the meat industry and leather is an abundant by-product that, if used, you might argue avoids waste. KOTHEA do not sell natural leather.
There is certainly a kudos surrounding natural leather. It IS viewed a s a more desirable product. However I’m really not sure why; especially when you look at it logically.
Faux leather is much easier to work with; it is much better suited for any kind of long term interior design use – looking at durability and care & maintenance; it can look and feel the same as natural leather. It is made of chemicals but chemicals (often environmentally damaging ones) are used in the natural leather treatment process.
Whilst I might buy natural leather shoes I would only specify faux leather in a contract interior design situation and would probably also specify faux leather in my house with the possible exception of a statement sofa.
Faux Leather is great for upholstery. Here is a time lapse video of the full process if you want to know how it is done. We would be happy to point you to a local upholsterer but please remember that we only sell the faux leather upholstery fabric. If you would like samples please drop us an email request <here> (trade only). We have several collections of faux leather in most colourways including base colours (black, brown, green, blue, red, yellow, gold) muted neutrals and metallic finishes.
Recently we have had some detailed enquiries about how to upholster with the fine upholstery faux leather that we sell. KOTHEA are certainly NOT expert upholsterers and those questions should be aimed at your professional upholsterer.
Having said that here is a video (below) by Christopher Nejman showing some techniques for faux leather upholstery.
For more information about our faux leather products and colours click <here> or use the links on the right.