Real leather cowboy boots are always our cup of tea at all times. We appreciate their durability, stylish and authentic look that brings up a great sense of courtesy and culture. I know some folks out there who think faux cowboy boots are indeed intolerant of them.
When technology imitates real leather from its structure, color, pattern, or even the distinct odors of real leather has been innovated to be more and more exquisite and intricate, you can easily be overtaken by a devious dealer.
It’s a pity if you paid too much for authentic-looking cowboy boots that are actually made of high-quality faux.
No worry, there are still good ways for you to spot real leather yourself with true knowledge.
I know this sounds quite a bit shallow, as you may believe that only connoisseurs of exotic leather can do that.
However, since faux is made from 100% industrial chemicals and no matter how much they are faked to look like the real thing, it’s not possible to turn them out to be the real thing.
Here are some fun tips with great knowledge for you to see if you have got real or faux leather cowboy boots.
- How can you tell if cowboy boots are real leather?
- Some last words…
How can you tell if cowboy boots are real leather?
Real leather contains properties completely different from faux by which you can distinguish them distinctly.
1. Soften over time and usage
While faux will usually remain at the same level of softness over time, real leather will tend to give a feeling of firmness the first time you touch it, and then it will soften over time as you wear it more often to stretch it out.
This is the most distinctive feature used to distinguish between the fake and the real. Every time you put them on, real leather becomes softer and they become more resilient and mold to your feet better every time.
Meanwhile, faux won’t mold as much as real leather does. However, you may need more than 3 weeks to really conclude whether your cowboy boots are real leather.
The method can be used to spot real leather, including exotic leather since this is the most common feature that happens to this kind of authentic material.
2. Leather hair pores using a magnifying glass
Real leather has pores, obviously, since it is indeed a dead animal’s skin and some of them will have hair all over their bodies, e.g., ostrich, elephant, or cowhide.
However, due to the tanning and surface treatment processes making the pores invisible to the naked eye, you may need a magnifying glass to be able to see these features more clearly on the surface of the material. Pores of real leather are arranged naturally in different sizes and shapes.
Meanwhile, faux has no pores (or very fake pores) since they are made from chemicals with industrial treatment only.
However, keep in mind that this method cannot be used for all skin types since some don’t come with pores (due to having no fur) on their bodies, for example, stingray skin, crocodile skin, snake skin, or lizard skin.
3. Wrinkle when pressing
If you press your fingers hard against your skin, you will see some wrinkles appear very naturally. If your skin ages to a certain extent, the settlement and wrinkles will remain visible on the surface for a period of time and then return to their original flat shape.
The same goes for real leather cowboy boots. If your cowboy boots haven’t been chemically treated to give them a tough and shiny look, you’ll notice wrinkles on the surface when pressed down, and they’ll return to their original shape after a few seconds. This is not the case with faux at all.
Some faux may have artificial wrinkles, but they will not be able to return to the original surface like real leather. This test method is normally only used on cow, pig, or goat skins because they are soft and highly elastic.
You probably won’t be able to apply it to some exotic leathers since their textures are so tough and stiff that it makes it difficult to press down your fingers.
4. The ability to absorb water
Since faux leather is mainly made from plastic in its construction, it tends to be good at water repellency (at least better than real leather). Meanwhile, real leather is made from real animal skin, which has pores and a porous construction.
To an extent, that allows the leather to absorb water naturally through pores. If you want to try this method on your leather cowboy boots, make sure you only pour a very small amount of water on the material, since soaking the boots under water can damage the quality of the boots very badly, causing unpleasant water stains.
Better yet, you should put water in a spray bottle and spray a thin layer of water on the boot shaft. This will also speed up the test results without causing water stains or damaging the texture of the material.
5. Smell distinctly
I love the smell of real leather so much. This kind of authentic material always has a very distinct odor naturally and can’t be faked.
They are drawn from the smell of sweat, food, and fat, as well as the smell of the plants used for tanning (often oak or bark plants according to traditional tanned leather methods). In general, real leather has a special scent with the fishiness and smelly characteristics of animal skin.
I truly believe that you will feel the fake and natural in this leather scent just by your ordinary sense of smell. Some lines of so-called patent leather may have fewer natural odors than other specialties since they are often polished by liqueur in the final step.
However, even if real leather is treated with chemicals to deodorize it, its natural characteristic smell will still be released over time and will almost never disappear.
6. Don’t get burned
This method can be a bit dangerous if, unfortunately, your cowboy boots are made of high-quality faux leather. They will burn black and emit a burning smell into the air.
Since faux plants are made of 100% industrial chemicals, they will quickly burn in the air when exposed to direct fire after only a few seconds and give off a burning smell of the chemical.
Meanwhile, real leather usually doesn’t burn immediately. After exposing real leather to fire for about 10 seconds, the material will only char instead of burning out quickly with black smoke all over the air.
But I don’t recommend using this method directly on your cowboy boots as they can leave unsightly discoloration marks. However, this is also an interesting way to distinguish real from fake leather materials.
7. Don’t crack when exposed to direct sunlight for a long time
This is what most of us hate about faux. They will crack after only a short time of use (usually 1-3 years of regular use).
This happens even faster when the material is exposed to direct sunlight for a long time. Faux is made from chemicals that are very resistant to water.
However, the hard and less elastic structure can be the cause of their rapid cracking after a period of use. Meanwhile, biologically speaking, real leather is the skin of real animals which is formed by connecting proteins together.
Accordingly, they have a better porous structure with great elasticity. As a result, real leather doesn’t crack over time. They can look squashed, dry, wrinkled from lack of moisture and not properly nourished.
But there will never be any large cracks on the surface of real leather.
8. Real leather is more breathable
Since faux fur is more water resistant due to its strong plastic construction, it lacks breathability quite a lot.
The water-resistant construction prevents air exchange through the layers of the material, causing them to often heat your feet in hot conditions and warm them up in cold conditions. Real leather has a porous structure and is extremely breathable.
Through the pores on the surface, the air is exchanged between the inside and outside, providing comfort to the wearer of cowboy boots in the summer.
However, this degree of breathability between exotic leather materials will also vary since it depends on the number of pores on the surface as well as on the biological characteristics of the animal when it is alive.
For example, snakes are warm-blooded animals, and they often lie in the sun to warm their bodies. Therefore, their skin will not have natural pores and is less likely to breathe well than cow leather (since cows are warm-blooded animals and have fur on the surface of their skin).
9. Much more pricey
Last but not least, sometimes you can confirm the difference between faux and real leather cowboy boots by their prices. There’s no doubt that real exotic leather can cost an arm and a leg, while faux leather is only 1/5 the price of real leather boots.
However, this method should only be applied if you buy cowboy boots from well-known and reputable manufacturers in the market.
They will not be able to lie to you about the authenticity of the leather used to make the boots since a lie can lose all the reputation of the brand that has been built up over decades and get out of the industry forever.
Some last words…
Real leather cowboy boots are really something worth investing in. They can last 10+ years, and if you’re tired of wearing them every day, you can turn them into beautiful planters to decorate your home—something faux leather boots just can’t do.
Also, think about where you’re going to buy cowboy boots. If you buy them from well-known and reputable brands that make cowboy boots, you’re less likely to come across fake ones than authentic ones.
If you have a particular passion for handmade cowboy boots made by skilled craftsmen, you can use some of the methods above to check if they are really fooling you about the true origin of the material leather or not.
Finally, life is too short to not wear real leather cowboy boots.
Howdy y’all, and welcome to From The Guest Room, your ultimate guide to all things Western! I’m Jay Gatz, a lifelong cowboy boot enthusiast with over 5 years of experience in the Western style world. I’m excited to share my knowledge with you and help you discover the perfect cowboy boots and western gear to elevate your style. Let’s explore the rich history and timeless appeal of Western fashion together!