Seven Tips to Finding Real Leather in Florence

Looking for the best leather in Florence? Wondering how to tell if it is real leather or not? Look no further. Here are 7 tips for telling genuine/real leather from fake leather in Florence:

Are low leather prices an indicator of fake leather?

Inside the San Lorenzo Leather Market it is easy to be swept into a small booth and offered a leather bag or jacket for a price that seems too good to be true. While the low prices and overall experience of the San Lorenzo Market might be what you are looking for, be cautious: the small stands might not be offering you the best quality leather in Florence or even real leather.

If it smells like leather is it real leather?

Before journeying to the markets of San Lorenzo or any leather shop in Florence, remember this, just because it smells like leather, it doesn’t mean it is real leather! When smelling leather, you are actually smelling the chemicals used to treat the real leather, these same chemicals are used to produce fake leather as well.

If it looks like leather, is it real leather?

Just because a bag or jacket looks like leather doesn’t mean that it’s real leather. On the smooth side of leather, the texture, flexibility, and grain can be identical to fake leather, even an expert might not be able to tell them apart. While the glossy side of the leather is hard to differentiate from fake leather, some real leather and even the best leather in Florence might have blemishes such as scars.

The best way to tell if leather is real or fake is by looking at the bag from the suede side. It is possible to make fake suede however, it can be more expensive than using real leather! To feel for suede on a lined jacket, bag, or wallet, pull up on the lining and through the lining rub your thumb on the jacket, if you feel the lining catch or if there is a texture, it is most likely real suede. If it is smooth or makes a sound like the swishing of gym shorts, it is probably fake. You can also apply pressure to the leather with a finger, if the surface wrinkles this is another sign that you have found real leather!

Is it Genuine leather just because it says it is?

If the back panel of a jacket has a label that says genuine leather that could mean that only the back panel is genuine. So do the suede test through the lining of other areas of the jacket or apply pressure to each panel to find the wrinkles that will appear on real leather.

If it seems too good to be true, is it?

If a merchant is offering you extreme deals on leather it is probably not the best leather in Florence or it may not be genuine.

Scam leather tests

During your stroll through the leather market and in some shops the vendors may try to prove that their leather is in fact genuine, but watch out because many of these tricks are fake! For example, there is no such thing as a flame test or a leather test. In the end, leather is skin and it would burn if their flame was not continuously moving over the leather’s surface. There is also no such thing as a leather scratch test.

Ask lots of questions

While it might not be possible to know the answers to these questions without being an expert, ask the vendor: “What kind of leather is it?” “How was it made?” “What is the quality of the leather, is it lamb skin, calve skin, deer skin?” 

You may also ask where the leather is from. If the vendor says that the leather is from Tuscany it is probably not real as Tuscany does not have a big cattle industry. However,  if they say Argentina or Australia it is more probable that they are telling the truth. (This pertains to where the leather is from not where the leather was handcrafted).

A vendor of genuine leather will know the answers to the above questions. If the vendor is is unable to answer these questions, the leather is probably not (completely) genuine. 

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