Air leather, also known as leather air, is a kind of synthetic fabric that looks and feels like leather but is not. It is a micro-perforated polyurethane material and is priced far lower than genuine leather.
Since you cannot differentiate leather air and real leather easily, it is becoming trendy among residential furniture buyers. Leather air is said to have excellent quality and durability and is scratch-resistant.
Microscopic perforations facilitate the flow of air inside the furniture, balancing body temperature to the environment. Leather air was invented in the USA by Man Wah a couple of years ago through leather air fabric cover.
It is NOT bonded. Leather air is more rigid than vinyl, and it does not harden or peel off. As the price of genuine leather keeps increasing, the demand for faux leather is also increasing. This is why retailers are shifting to leather air.
As soon as leather air was unveiled in 2012, it became an instant hit. It was marketed as a fabric, and various manufacturers believe that the popularity of this breathable fabric will only grow.
Air leather looks stylish and inviting. It lies in between Bonded leather and genuine leather. It is an excellent alternative to the cracking of bonded leather and the cost of genuine leather.
Retailers have started embracing the fabric because budget-conscious customers, who may want the feel of leather, do not want to spend the money it requires. So, fabrics like leather air become an alternative. Retailers quickly achieve opening price points for their leather line-up.
There’s another problem with bonded leather. Bonded leather covers begin to crack and peel after just two to three years of use. A lot of people are refusing to use bonded leather. Since fabrics like leather air are not bonded and feel like leather, it is naturally the best alternative.
Some manufacturers are very rigid with furniture. They either want to manufacture pure leather or any fabric, but not bonded leather. Air leather is again the best alternative for such manufacturers, namely Flexsteel.
Some manufacturers do not want to confuse their customers. They never consider using bonded leather or leather-like fabrics as it is a form of risk to them. They are fashion-driven, not price-driven. One such company is Ekornes.
Even though air leather is not as durable as genuine leather, it has qualities that make it perfectly suitable for upholstery, like breathability and flexibility. Leather may make great shoes and saddles. But leather air might be a better option to make pillowcases. You do not want your pillowcases to be very expensive, too.
Air Leather Care and Maintenance
Out of all other fabrics available in the market, leather requires comparatively significantly less maintenance. The same is with fabrics that look like leather, leather air. If it is adequately maintained, the fabric can outdo any other fabric in terms of durability.
One of the significant leather destroyers’ air is body oil. It seeps inside the fabric and causes it to peel and crack. The oil penetrates the protective finish of the fabric.
Therefore, it is essential to clean the fabric weekly depending upon the situation and frequency of contact with the bare body. You are always advised to keep a spray bottle of water (preferably distilled) and clean clothes to wipe it off.
You can also use a leather conditioner once or twice a year. Do not soak the fabric with water. Rub it gently with a slightly wet cloth. You can also add a little amount of detergent if necessary. Warm water would work well too. Ensure leather air is dried as soon as possible.
How to Differentiate Between Genuine Leather and Faux/Air Leather?
Real leather has inconsistent pores, while faux or human-made leather will have consistently placed pores. Take a close look and examine the pores if you want to judge the leather.
Genuine leather has a unique smell. Any synthetic material cannot replicate that. You can smell real and faux leather to understand the smell. Another way could be to touch or feel the leather. If it feels very smooth and flexible, it is faux leather.
Genuine leather is always far more expensive than artificial leather. Faux leather is available in a wide variety of colors, while color options for genuine leather are limited. Real leather softens with time, but faux leather would not.
Authentic leather appears luxurious but faux leather may also look as good as the real one. Make sure you are aware of the distinctions before you purchase leather.
PU leather is another alternative for artificial leather. It is similar to leather air, as it is made up of Polyurethane or thermoplastic polymer that has a similar feel as leather. It is also known as bi-cast leather with a coating of PU on the top, and the rest is genuine leather. It is non-biodegradable, unlike real leather. It is considered vegan.
While shopping, you need to have a keen eye, leather radiates sophistication and luxury, but you can easily be fooled. PU leather has the same texture as real leather, i.e., it looks like animal skin. It also has a plastic-like or chemical smell in it, which genuine leather does not.
A water test is another tried-and-tested way to check authenticity. Genuine leather absorbs water, while PU leather does not. PU leather will have uniform patterns on it, while real leather is imperfect. That is where the beauty lies.
PU leather is often used for couches and chairs of cars or motorcycle seats. This is because it is resistant to sun rays. The difference between PU leather and air leather is that even though it is more breathable than other faux leather fabrics, it is not as breathable as real leather, but air leather is. If you are still a fan of real leather, that means you love the vintage look and things that last forever!
Leather air reviews
Leather air has mixed reviews. People who tend to be budget-conscious love the fabric, but people who cannot compromise on the luxurious feel and sophistication of genuine leather are gravely disappointed with the fabric. Here are some reviews:
“Air leather, also known as leather air, is a perfectly made fabric, it just looks like leather and just as strong, I would rather sit and lie comfortably on-air leather than real leather. Knowing that I’m not lying on dead rotting skin from an animal that has been treated with chemicals to last longer, I have a corner sofa that looks like a lazy boy, which costs £4000 and the one I got made in china that looks the same cost £650, air leather is perfect, the people commenting on here have not a clue what it is. People commenting on it here have never had air leather sofas because if you have, you will buy another.”
“My leather sofa /love seat is 20 years old and just started to look a bit shabby on the corners last year. That is a useful, reliable lifespan for a piece of furniture that is used heavily every single day. Taking the thought a step further: Some sofas have nice leather on the seats /fake leather on the back. That’s certainly something you want to avoid. They’ll never age evenly.
I’ll never own another sofa that isn’t leather, and I’ll never “cheap out” on it.”