Whether to Pleather: One Fashion Fabric Leads a Trend Revolution

The snow is beginning to melt, and we are starting to feel the weight that the winter holidays have left upon us. The “Spring Thaw” is nearing, and the groundhog will soon be checking his shadow to see how much frosty weather we have left. As we look forward to the upcoming new season, we must also look forward to the fabrics that will continue to cling to our winter-sized bodies. The past year has seen the resurgence of one fabric that has spawned a trend revolution: pleather. The fabrics and fashions of the 1970’s have been popular for nearly a decade now, but no other fabric has managed to reclassify itself as well as pleather (polyurethane film).

It appears that this trend may become an alternative mainstay to the leather uprising during the last half of the 20th century. Wearing pleather used to imply that the wearer was unable to afford the pricey, stylish clothing that people of privilege were able to afford. Pleather now represents the most daring and cutting edge textile usage available, and is a predominant fabric in spring lines by Tom Ford for Gucci, Moschino, Prada, FUBU, and Sean John. Almost every clothing line includes at least one matching faux leather ensemble for the approaching spring season.

Pleather’s popularity has increased quickly due to its less expensive price, ease of care, versatility, and animal friendly existence. On average, the price of pleather costs three times less than its true leather counterpart. Some consumers view purchasing leather as a large commitment, considering how infrequently leather clothing, aside from winter jackets, may be worn.

Leather is also much more difficult and expensive to clean; pleather on the other hand, can be wiped off with a mild detergent and a warm cloth. This synthetic fabric can be worn more frequently than its non-synthetic counterpart. The simple care routine will ensure a longer life for pleather garments, making them nearly as reliable and durable as true leather garments.

The versatility of pleather is also one of its strongest attraction points. Pleather can be made into any garment, even surpassing leather in its usage. Pleather is being utilized by designers for all types of pant styles, including jeans, chic hip-huggers, boot cuts, capris, clam diggers, and cropped or “short pants.” This material also makes a sexy wrap skirt, a flattering miniskirt, or a classic style a-line skirt. Pleather lends itself to lines that are mass-produced, as well as looks that seem tailor made for each wearer.

The uprising of this plastic leather fabric has presented us with all sorts of new fashions, in all sorts of styles and retro-like colors. As one of the most easily dyed synthetics, pleather can be classified in many different fashion categories. The fall presented pleather in rich shades of brown, burgundy, navy, and gold, adding intensity to an otherwise lighthearted fabric, and revealing its more conservative uses. Spring will bring the playful nature of pleather back into view with pastels, light gold, and silver as the highlighted colors, displaying the funky side of this adaptable fabric.

Animal friendly fabrics have softened the tension between the fashion industry and its worst enemy: the animal rights activist. Pleather has helped usher in a new appreciation for synthetic fabrics, and is the most common alternative to luxury animal fabrics. Pleather is now the trendy way to support your position on animal rights without sacrificing your fashion savvy.

This multi-faceted fabric is not limited to color, style, or animal friendly versatility. Pleather is a fabric that people of all sizes and ages may wear tastefully. It is often thought of and described as a young-age leather, but pleather is not bound to the size or age quota that fashions frequently adhere to. The younger, slimmer, consumer can select from the same variety of garments as a younger, plus-size consumer; hip-huggers, low-rider jeans and chic wrap skirts are appropriate in all sizes. The expansion of the plus-size industry, and its focus on mainstream trends, allows fabrics like pleather to be utilized by a more expansive audience.

The mature consumer may benefit from the flexibility of a fabric like pleather. The elastic nature of this polyurethane film makes it a more attractive purchase when freedom of movement is a strong consideration. Pleather is a porous film that breathes easily, yet may also be lined with other fabrics for warmth and insulation. Mature consumers enjoy making a fashion statement without having to sacrifice comfort or mobilarity.

Pleather is a rare, all-encompassing fabric that compliments anyone with enough fashion savvy to put in on. At the height of its former popularity, it was a “members only” fabric; only a select few were young, cheesy and small enough to wear it. After thirty years of garment mass production, pleather has evolved into a less exclusive, more wearer-friendly fabric.

We can feel more comfortable in pleather knowing that its an inclusive, stylish fabric that gives us all a chance to show off our savoir-faire. Asking yourself whether to pleather is asking yourself if you feel like being hip, modern, and in vogue. It doesn’t take more than fashion sense to know that we want to be all of those things, and pleather has presented us with the perfect opportunity to do just that!


Sara J. Kadolph, Anna L. Langford, Textiles, (et al) (8th ed. Prentice-Hall, Inc. Simon & Schuster/ A Viacom Company), Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, pages 127-130.

Mary Humphries, Fabric Glossary, (1996, Prentice-Hall, Inc. Simon & Schuster/ A Viacom Company), Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, pages 227-229.

Billie J. Collier, Phyllis G. Tortora, Understanding Textiles, (2001, Prentice-Hall, Inc.) Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, pages 212-217.

Facts regarding pleather from www.sommers.com

If you have questions on fabric identification, fabric properties, or just want to drop Amy an email, here is her address: TextileFC@aol.com

Textile Fabric Consultants, Inc. manufactures fabric swatch kits for students who study textiles in colleges and universities. These kits are also sold to professionals in the industry. We also sell to high schools, department stores, interior designers and costume designers. The kits are designed to help educate people about a variety of fabrics and to be a permanent hands on reference for the user.

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