PU is the abbreviation for polyurethane. It is one of the most popular handbag materials in the fashion world. It is a man-made material and usually named by faux leather, new material in the current market. Those recognized advantages make it popular including cheaper price, rich color, and multi-grain surface.
PVC is another man-made handbag material to replace genuine leather before PU appears. Both PU and PVC have a similar manufacture process. Essentially, two layers are the backbone of the materials. One is the base layer and the other is the additive layer. For PVC, the base layer usually is made of textile, e.g. canvas, cotton. The base layer of PU can be textile or leather which is usually low quality or some leftover. The additive layer of PVC is plasticizers so it has a stiff surface and is fragile. PU takes different additive chemicals so it has a soft leather feel. Some have really high quality finishing process so better air permeability can be the same as the leather. Plus the advantages mentioned above, don’t be surprised if you see PU bags have a higher price than the genuine leather’s.
How to differentiate from PU(PVC) and leather? Here are two easy ways. First, check the base layer. PU or PVC usually has textile base layer. Second, burn the material sample. PU or PVC will be melting but leather won’t. Furthermore, you can take a small test to identify PU and PVC. Soak the bag materials into gasoline. After half an hour, PVC becomes stiffened and fragile but it doesn’t happen to PU.