Synthetic Leather Market: Popular Applications

Synthetic Leather Market - Inkwood Research

Leather-making is an art practiced for over 7,000 years. During ancient times, fresh skins were dried in the sun, softened by pounding in animal brains and fats, and preserved by smoking and salting. However, with the changing times, easy to manufacture, maintain, cost-effective, and the vegan option of animal-based leather has increased in demand globally. As a result, synthetic leather has gained traction in industries, including footwear, clothing, furniture, and automotive. There is increasing use of synthetic leather in jackets, coats, handbags, purses, belts, etc. Moreover, there is also a high demand for synthetic leather in the footwear industry. According to Inkwood Research, the global synthetic leather market is anticipated to propel with a 7.11% CAGR in terms of revenue and 6.89% CAGR in terms of volume during the assessment years 2023-2032.

Genuine/Real Leather vs. Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather resembles real leather, whereas genuine leather is a strong and durable material obtained from tanning or chemical treatment of animal skins and hide. Manufacturers obtain real leather from the skins of animals like buffaloes, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, seals, and alligators. Leather is useful in producing clothing, handbags, footwear, sports equipment, and furniture.

On the other hand, synthetic leather is not as strong, durable, or flexible as real leather. However, the manufacturing process of synthetic leather is much simpler and tends to be less expensive than leather. Also, products made with synthetic leather are usually much easier to care for as they are usually made from plastics, especially polyurethane (PU), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and epoxy resins.

Synthetic Leather Market: Popular Applications

  • Bags & Wallets

Briefcases, athletic bags, duffel bags, shoulder bags, purses and wallets, coin purses, business card holders, commuter pass holders, cigarette cases, and fashion bags are all made of synthetic leather. Companies like Baggit, Solo, Zara, Lavie, and Reaction Kenneth Cole utilize synthetic leather to meet the demands for elegant bags with synthetic leather. The demand for synthetic leather in bags and wallets is mostly driven by shifting lifestyles, recreational habits, and increased urbanization. The demand for the product in this application is further boosted by expanding commercial operations and increasing travel and tourism. The growing popularity of gym and other casual bags among students and working professionals alike are also anticipated to drive the segment over the forecast period.

  • Automotive

Businesses, including Mazda and Honda, use synthetic leather for seat backs, head restraints, and side bolsters. Nissan’s armrests are covered in synthetic leather. The Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motor Corporation, Jaguar Land Rover Limited, General Motors Company, Toyota Motor Corporation, and various other luxury car brands frequently use synthetic leather in their more affordable automobile models. The growth of the automotive segment is attributed to rising economic conditions and the need for a comfortable commute. With the appreciating market for passenger vehicles, the usage of synthetic leather for the automotive seat is bound to increase.

  • Clothing

Synthetic leather is used in various garments, including jackets, skirts, belts, lingerie, costumes, tops, and bottoms. The market for imitation leather clothes is rising as the vegan population grows worldwide, especially in affluent nations like the United States, Japan, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Sweden, Spain, and Finland. With more consumers converting to vegan products, the market for synthetic leather clothing has enormous development potential in the upcoming years. However, the market for PVC leather clothes may be constrained by the material’s propensity for tearing quickly. Major retailers, including Zara, Matt & Nat, Wilby, and Beyond Skin, sell a variety of garments manufactured from synthetic leather.

  • Furnishing

One of the main industries using synthetic leather now is the furniture sector. Upholstery for massage chairs, dental chairs, boats, stools, bean bags, couches, and cushion coverings employs synthetic leather. It is employed for both interior and external decorating. The increased demand for synthetic leather in furnishing applications is mostly due to its affordability and the similarities between its qualities and those of genuine leather. Synthetic leather is offered based on color, texture, and fabric appearance to meet the various needs in furnishing applications.

Is Synthetic Leather an Ideal Environmental Choice?

Manufacturing synthetic and real leather use chemically intensive processes. Synthetic plastic-based fibers and leather degrade like other plastics and can also shed microplastics during use, not just after they are discarded. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that synthetic materials cause less environmental harm and have not used potentially damaging chemical processes.

However, synthetic leather made from bio-based materials has no harmful consequences. As a result, manufacturers focus more on synthetic leather from natural fibers like corn, palm, cotton, flax, soybean, and other plants. These fibers have robust and flexible fibers that are perfect for use in manufacturing various products with multiple applications. Several companies use new and innovative technologies to produce synthetic leather for various applications. For instance, BASF produces thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) Elastollan, which is extruded onto the fabric directly with the help of non-solvent-based technology. Elastollan provides wear resistance to synthetic leather used in car seats.

All in All

Several products employ synthetic leather because of its adaptability. It is used for many different purposes, including diary covers, stationery, and sports equipment like various balls, gloves, and pads. It gives some special advantages, such as pricey leather at a lower price. Compared to real leather, the product is more low-maintenance, trendy, and durable. Manufacturers offer a variety of luxury items created from synthetic leather to satisfy the requests made by high-income groups. This is anticipated to produce profitable chances for the global synthetic leather market expansion in the upcoming years.

By Sukanya Mukherjee


Who are the leading players operating in the global synthetic leather market?

Kuraray Co Ltd, Alfatex Italia SRL, Achilles USA Inc, and BASF SE are some leading players operating in the global synthetic leather market.

Which country is leading the global synthetic leather market?

Vietnam is leading the global synthetic leather market.