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Can't decide between a real or vegan-leather bag?

February 23, 2021 3 min read

Can't decide between a real or vegan-leather bag?

We’ve all been there. Hovering over the checkout button unsure if you’ve chosen the perfect item. 

Choosing between an animal and a vegan leather bag can be a hard decision. This article isn’t aimed to turn anyone off or onto either leather from any political standpoint. It is intended to help you make the right decision for you and what you want from a bag. 

We make premium bags and wallets in many leather options so hopefully the following info will help make this choice an easier one:


Real leather can be made from a plethora of animal hides, though She Lion animal leather bags are made exclusively from ethically sourced, full-grain, premium cowhide. 

The Innovator and The Sharpshooter Premium Leather Bags


Both supple and strong, animal leather is widely used in furniture, shoes, belts, bags and fashion because it can last for decades upon decades without perishing. It is a densely fibrous, natural material that breathes and is surprisingly strong, which is why even some of our  PU bags have leather handles for durability and load capacity. 

There are limited man-made leather options that can match the strength of animal leather, other than those grown in a lab (unlikely available to bag manufacturers).


Animal leather ages beautifully and lasts a lifetime. Natural leather products will all show an ageing effect called ‘patina’ over time. Like the wrinkles on our own faces, the natural wear and tear and marks that occur from day to day can add character and a life-story to your bag. 


Quality PU leather is exceptional in how far it has come in recent years, however it cannot ever feel (or smell) the same as the premium cowhide leather we use. The butter soft feel of the Italian leather used in our  Maven and  Sharpshooter totes cannot be mimicked by any vegan leather, no matter how far and wide we source (and we only source the best).


You’re probably already thinking of the divine smell that high-quality leather possesses. Other than the durability, it’s another reason so many shoes are made from real-leather, the smell endures over the top of other smells you’d rather didn’t!


Vegan leather, also known as polyurethane, leatherette, faux leather and pleather comes in many shapes and forms and often has an artificial grain imposed to imitate animal leather. Ultimately it is entirely man-made.

The Electric Blue Risk-Taker PU Tote


Vegan-leather is almost always going to be a cheaper option than real-leather. Not necessarily due to the quality of the material but in how much faster it is to manufacture and in larger quantities. For example: Our  Futurist Tote is made entirely of vegan-leather and is priced at $299RRP where a real-leather counterpart would cost $599+. 


A benefit of creating “leather” through the chemical bonding of plastic to a fabric backing is that you can have almost any colour your heart desires. It would be difficult for our  electric blue Risk Taker Tote or  gold sparkle High-Roller to be as dazzling in animal leather and we’re always looking to add more eye-catching, bold colours to the collection.


While real-leather is water resistant to a point, vegan-leather is easy to clean with harsher chemicals that would otherwise destroy it’s animal counterpart.Wipe-proof and waterproof, vegan-leather is a dream to clean. Though you do want to keep it sunsafe as PU cannot absorb conditioning creams so are more likely to dry out and crack if left in the sun for extended periods. 

Ultimately, we create premium quality work bags in both real leather and vegan leather as, you can see, there are pros and cons to each. 

When it comes to  sustainability things are never perfectly black and white. The Good Trade has written an excellent article to help you make an informed decision with the environment in mind that we encourage you to check out if you’d like to research further.  Read The Good Trade article.

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