PU leather, or polyurethane leather, is an artificial textile that is often used in place of genuine leather in clothing and
upholstery. PU leathers can be made purely from thermosoftening plastic polymers, or from a combination of plastics and genuine leather, with the former considered vegan.
There is an opinion that 100% PU leather can be a convincing substitute for the real thing but while genuine leather does require upkeep and maintenance to keep looking its best, this is also its strength. Over time, it will develop a unique and distinct patina, growing more distinguished and beautiful over years of continued use. Pure PU leather cannot imitate this natural process, and will not last for years the way well-kept leather does. In fact, pure PU leather has a comparatively short lifespan next to genuine leather, wearing out and cracking over time. And while it might be vegan, given its shorter lifespan and how unlike leather it is not biodegradable, PU leathers are generally considered to actually be a far less eco-friendly choice than genuine leather.
Another approach is bicast leathers, where natural by-products of leathermaking are combined with polyurethane plastics to create a hybrid of organic and artificial leathers. Given that they contain animal products, bicast leathers cannot be considered vegan, but by finding a creative solution to repurpose otherwise unused products, they make the leather manufacturing process even more efficient. On the whole, PU and bicast leathers are cheaper to make than genuine leather, but they are unlikely to last as long as genuine leather products, and are unable to replicate the natural transformation leather products undergo over years of use.
When picking out leather goods for yourself, always check the label and be aware of the type of material the goods are
made from. 100% PU leather, hybrids, and genuine leathers all have their own benefits and shortfalls, so select the products that best suit your needs and treat them accordingly.