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How Can You Tell Real Buffalo Leather?

How can you tell real buffalo leather apart from synthetic materials? Learn how to spot a fake buffalo leather item when you see one.

How Can You Tell Real Buffalo Leather?

Ah, the buffalo. So majestic with natural beauty, and those buffalo leather goods scream vintage Americana.

While tons of companies in the leather industry use this image to sell their products, many are selling bonded leather. This can get confusing. 

It's tough to tell the difference between high-quality leather and fake leather in a market full of faux leather. We've outlined some useful tips below to make it easier for you.

How to Identify Genuine Leather

The best way to identify real leather is to look at the back of the material. If you see a piece of fabric, it is likely fake leather.

A second option is to conduct a burn test. Real leather goods will not produce any smell and turn into white ash. In contrast, faux leather will have a plastic-like smell and not turn into ash when burned.

You can also conduct a water test by dropping a small amount of water on the bonded leather. High-quality leather will absorb moisture, while faux leather will be wet and shiny after the droplet has dried up.

Genuine or natural leather comes from the animal skin of Asian Water Buffalo or African Cape Buffalo that is treated with specific chemicals to preserve them while processing finished buffalo leather products such as cow leather. The leather quality is quite sturdy and durable, but it is also expensive because it takes longer to produce than other animal leather products.

Top grain leather comes in many forms and different qualities. You'll find it used for everything from the seats in your car to the leather jacket on your back or your day-to-day bag. Real leather comes from animal hides, and you can treat it in different ways to produce a finished product, for example, split leather or English saddle leather that's smooth and soft with fine grain or one that is rough and rigid.

Tips to Identify Real Leather

The following are some tips to help you identify real leather.

  • Check to see if the material has a leather smell. Real leather should have a strong aroma that is natural and not overwhelming.
  • Check the grain of the leather material. Genuine full-grain buffalo leather should be free of blemishes, such as lines or wrinkles, and show grainy texture.
  • Rub your fingers across the material to check for smoothness or roughness. Genuine buffalo leather will feel smooth and rough on the other side.
  • Bend the material slightly to check for brittleness or stiffness. Genuine leather will bend without breaking, but it will remain stiff when turned somewhat.
  • Look for a tag that reads "100% real leather" or "all leather."
  • Examine the material. Genuine leather feels soft and supple and develops a patina that improves its appearance over time. Natural leather also has unique markings and imperfections, whereas fake leather might not have any markings at all.

The most significant tell-tale sign of a genuine leather product is its texture; genuine top grain buffalo leather feels smooth and soft to the touch and develops a patina over time, making each item unique.

All You Need to Know About Buffalo Leather

Real leather is the type of leather made from the skin of a buffalo. The tanning process of this skin to make it into a durable material makes it "real" leather.

Many animal skins are used to make leather, but buffalo leather has become a popular choice due to its strength and durability. The most widely used leather is Asian water buffalo hide, making both full-grain and top-grain leather.

Full-grain buffalo leather has not been buffed or sanded to remove imperfections on its surface, while top-grain buffalo leather has been done to look smoother and more consistent.

Italian buffalo leather offers excellent strength and resistance to water damage, mildew, mold, abrasion, tearing, and leather stamping tools. This makes it ideal for outdoor clothing and wallets, belts, and bags.

While buffalo leather's main uses are manufacturing products related to outdoor living, you can also use them for office furniture, upholstery, and car interiors.

Another reason why natural buffalo leather is popular is that the skin of a water buffalo produces much more usable space than cowhides do. The average size of cowhide is around 50 square feet. This makes it excellent for creative projects requiring sewing. Learn more in our guide, How to Sew Leather.

A Comprehensive Guide for Buying the Best Leather

If you are searching for the best place to buy leather, you must know about the material. Once you know the material well, it is easy to pick the best source.

To get the best deal and buy genuine leather products, you need to know how to spot synthetic leather. Here is how to tell the difference between fake leather and real leather.

How do you tell real buffalo leather? The term 'leather' or 'genuine leather' is used broadly. It refers to any hide that has been tanned and used up for making a product. It could be any tanned hide or imported hides; therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between top-grain and full-grain leather.

Top-Grain Leather:

This type of leather is from the top layer. The underside layer has been removed. Also, this layer may be sanded or buffed to make the surface smooth before being colored or dyed.

Full-Grain Leather:

This type of leather is from the top layer of a hide without removing its underside layer; it offers excellent durability and strength. The markings on full-grain leather are unique as they are derived from its natural grain surface, making it distinct from other types of genuine leather.


Is Buffalo Leather Real Leather?

Buffalo leather, also known as water buffalo leather, is a leather product that's been in existence for hundreds of years. It is famous worldwide and especially in Asia. Buffalo leather makes clothing, wallets, shoes, furniture, and even car seats.

So, is buffalo leather natural leather? Buffalo hides are raw animal hides from the water buffalo, bred for meat production. The hides are a byproduct of the meat industry.

Water buffalo hides have a very distinctive look and have been used worldwide to make everything from furniture to jackets.

The most significant difference between cow leather and buffalo hides is durability and longevity. Bison hide will last longer than cow leather because of the structure of the hide itself – it is much more demanding than cow leather yet remains pliable and soft to the touch.