Faux Leather Jacket

An Iconic Legend

The leather jacket has been an iconic symbol throughout the world for decades. It symbolizes rebellion, leadership, strength, power, success, and most of all, fashion.

Celebrities have made the leather jacket popular in so many ways. James Dean, in “Rebel Without a Cause”, Henry Winkler as the Fonz in “Happy Days”, Tom Cruise as Maverick in “Top Gun”, Elvis Presley wore leather jackets in many of his films, Michael Jackson’s infamous Red Leather Jacket in “Thriller”, John Travolta as Danny Zucko in “Grease”, and let’s not forget that famous jacket that every man wanted to wear as soon as the most unforgettable film was released, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.

With all the fashion demands and desires of the leather jacket, it was soon evident that not everyone could or would ever be able to afford one as part of their wardrobe. With that in mind, fashion designers soon learned that everyone did not have the deep pockets filled with money and began to look for alternative ways to make the leather jacket more affordable. Hence, the “Faux” leather jacket emerged onto the fashion scene with enthusiasm and a promise to look, feel and wear as close to the real McCoy as possible.

Depending on the designer’s name, a faux leather jacket can be anywhere from very expensive to the very affordable. However, no matter where you buy your faux leather jacket, it will always be less expensive then the genuine leather jacket.

The Definition of Faux

Throughout America and Europe, the term “faux” means something false that is socially acceptable.

Perfect examples of “faux” products are as follows:

  • Faux Pearls (Costume jewelry): The benefits of buying faux pearls are that they are less expensive than real pearls which can make them very affordable as well as widely available throughout the world.
  • Faux Diamonds (Cubic Zirconia): Simulated diamonds that when mounted on real gold or silver can give the wearer the same look as if wearing a thousand dollar piece of jewelry for pennies on the dollar.
  • Faux Fur is a perfect way to have the look and feel of your favorite animal print without the threat of endangering the animal to achieve that look.

More commonly known as “artificial leather”, faux leather was originally created as an alternative leather substitute for upholstery. The process was very intricate and time consuming as most of the faux leathers were made with either woven calico or knit fabrics that were then completely coated with linseed oil that had been boiled and mixed with pigments to create different shades. The fabrics were then layered and spread over cotton and pressed with heavy rollers. The final stage was to pass the leather through “embossing rollers” which would give the leather a specific grain.

Faux Leather Jacket and the “Pleathers”

Pleather derives from the slang term “plastic leather” (synthetic leather made of plastic).
When working for the New York based company, Millis Clothing, employee Amy Bach needed a way to advertise this “new” product line of plastic leather to their customers without calling it plastic. Thus, the new phrase “Pleather” was coined and their main focus was on the cost-cutting substitute for genuine hide, as well as Pleather being preferred because it is lighter than leather as well as it being an alternative to real leather citing reasons of animal cruelty. In addition, because Pleather was made of plastic, it would not decompose as quickly as genuine leather.

One of the more popular “Pleathers” used for the faux leather jackets is “leatherette.” A form of artificial leather, leatherette is created by covering fabric base with plastic. The fabric base can be either a natural fiber or a synthetic fiber. The fabric base is then covered with a layer of soft PVC.

There are however, disadvantages of “plastic leatherette”:

  • Leatherette is not porous, therefore not allowing any kind of airflow, resulting in sweat accumulation if worn as clothing, used as car seat covers, etc.
  • If in a fire, leatherette can cause burns far more serious as it will burn faster and more vigorously than genuine leather.

The advantage for using leatherette is that it does not crack or fade easily and the care is by far easier to maintain in comparison to genuine leather.

Another artificial leather used for jackets is an American brand of “Pleather” called “Naugahyde” or sometimes more commonly known as “Nauga.” This particular brand of Pleather is composed of a knit fabric backing with a PVC coating. Naugahyde was developed by Rubber Company in the United States and is now manufactured and sold by the Uniroyal Engineered Products Division of Michelin. Uniroyal has always asserted that Naugahyde is one of the most popular premium Pleathers. First used as a trademark in the mid 1930’s, it’s name comes from the Borough of Naugatuck, Connecticut, where it was first produced. Now, Naugahyde is produced and manufactured in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

With a few more types of Pleathers used for wear, the faux leather jacket has become just as iconic as the genuine leather jacket itself. From fashion to film, for the rich and the poor, and everything in between, you can be certain that the Faux leather jacket is as popular today as it was when it first emerged onto the fashion scene.








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