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Materials. 'Real' leather vs PU vs suede?

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When shopping online, it's sometimes omitted as to what the shoes/boots are made of - that usually means either synthetic or PU.

PU meaning (as far as I know) polyurethane coating usually over 'split' leather. Synthetic can mean many things including PU, but usually a plastic of some form.

So to get to specifics, what are your (the experts) experiences with PU leather boots and shoes? I prefer 'real leather' but that is not an option for what otherwise seem to be good footwear.

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I'm not sure that 'PU' implies any leather base, as distinct from a wholly-synthetic material.   The construction you identify is usually (or should be) described as 'coated leather' or similar.

Like you, I prefer real leather for footwear (specifically the uppers) and have misgivings about many 'synthetic' products.   Especially the type where a plastic coating is applied to some form of textile base and tends to crack-off quite quickly (e.g. when a boot shaft is folded or creased).   Often, synthetics are very obvious from the lingering smell!

So many shoes and boots these days (especially women's) have a synthetic upper, regardless of price, and it can be quite hard to find affordable leather.   One type that does have merit, however, is 'faux suede', which can look very convincing and, whilst not necessarily hard-wearing, may require less maintenance than true (leather) suede.

There appears to be a potential trap when a shoe upper is described as 'patent'.   True 'patent leather' is indeed leather, but most 'patent' footwear these days seems to be PU - looks good and is easy to make, but not 'leather'!

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