Leather Shoes: Synthetic or Authentic?

By E.C. Rosenberg

When picking out a spiffy new pair of shoes, one of the many decisions you'll have to make is whether to go with real-deal authentic leather or a synthetic material similar in look and feel. There are many factors that go into this decision -- price, look, durability and even ethical or moral dilemmas. An effective way to make your decision is to address all your needs individually.

Close up of legs walking in the forest
credit: Ales_Utovko/iStock/GettyImages
Leather or synthetic leather shoes, which do you prefer?

Price

Price can be a pretty big factor when it comes to choosing between man-made and natural leathers. A pair of synthetic boots can cost a lot less than a comparable pair of leather ones, which is great when you're buying shoes for a specific event or for achieving a maximum look at minimum price. High-tech athletic shoes, however, may cost just as much, or more, than their leather counterparts.

Durability

Leather shoes usually get more mileage than synthetic ones. But if you're the type who wears a pair of shoes for a few years before discarding them in a massive spring cleaning haul, then both will hold up equally as well.

Comfort

Leather stretches and breathes better, making some leather shoes more comfortable. The exception is athletic sneakers, which are designed to breathe and conform to running and high-intensity workouts.

Going Green

Eco-responsible shoes are becoming increasingly popular, with most shoe stores and websites now offering vegan or recycled shoes or those from factories with socially responsible policies. So if you want to go the faux leather route, you now have tons of ethical options.