Japanese brands rarely release items with real leather, so most purses and shoes are made from polyurethane backed in fabric, often referred to as pleather, vegan leather, or just PU. PU leather doesn’t act quite the same way as leather does and requires some additional consideration to keep it looking good.
Not all pleather is created equal, but in general, PU will not hold up as well as leather items. The best way to increase its lifespan is to limit its exposure to the sun. UV rays will break down the plastic, creating cracks and flaking on the surface. When your items aren’t in use, try to store them in a place where they won’t be exposed to excess sun. Shoes can be stored in shoe boxes and dust cloths can be used protect purses (or old clothing bags). Dust cloths can also be used to prevent color transfer onto lighter colored bags.
In general, pleather should be cleaned with a soft cloth, water, and mild soap if necessary. In the case of scuffs or color transfer, a very light abrasive substance, like a Magic Eraser, can be used to get rid of stubborn stains. Keep in mind that because they are abrasive, they may slightly damage the surface of the pleather. When in doubt, test it in an inconspicuous place first.
Despite your best efforts, your pleather items may crack or flake. If you find the damage early, you can take some steps to repair the damage. Get a glue for pleather or vinyl (shoe goo is a brand that is often recommended) and apply it to the fabric backing for the PU. Gently stretch the flaking piece over the glue and press for a firm hold. If the fabric is still visible between the cracks, you can try matching the color with a vinyl repair kit, or paint at home (leather paint will work well for larger areas, nail polish will do for smaller areas in a pinch).
With a little care, your pleather items will serve you well for years to come.
By day, Jenna is a legal professional living in Los Angeles, California. By night (and weekends), she is a frill wearing monster who loves Innocent World and lolita indie brands. When she isn’t taking mirror selfies of her coordinates, she enjoys reading comic books, playing board games, and snuggling with her pup, Lily. You can see her mirror selfies on her instagram @lovelylaceandlies and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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