All leather sellers have always faced reproaches from buyers that their product stinks nasty, which means it’s not real leather.
But what smell are we trying to imagine when we think of the smell of leather? Yes, this is something so specific and complex, but definitely pleasant, we think. And we don’t even suspect that our sense of smell has become a victim of marketers.
Leather is a material obtained by tanning animal skins. And genuine leather does not smell like leather at all. The skin itself either has no smell, or it is so unpleasant that it would be better not to have it at all.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the development of chemistry has changed the entire leather industry as well. The synthesis of new components not only allowed to reduce the production cycle from several months to a few days, but also to give the skin new operational capabilities and increase its service life.
So that the dressed leather does not have an unpleasant stench, there is a processing stage in the dressing process: deodorization / deodorization. No, they don’t “puff” it with desicum and don’t “smear it with a stick”. This is a special procedure, which is often combined with other processes, as a result of which the skin loses its unpleasant odor, and receives the aroma that we consider “skin smell”.
One of the most common synthetic ingredients in leather fragrances is isobutyl quinoline, an almost colorless liquid with an exceptionally powerful, multifaceted odor, in which shades of walnut, oakmoss, earth, amber, woody undertones can be distinguished. Due to this smell, isobutyl quinoline has become a universal basis for perfume compositions of modern leather fragrances.
Fragrances and smells are an integral part of the so-called sensory marketing. In the mid-1980s, Cadillac was the first to respond to a customer request that leather should smell “like leather” and decide to fill the interior of a car with the aroma of natural leather, and thereby significantly increase sales, was the Cadillac company in the mid-1980s.
However, at the moment, the general trend of almost all leather manufacturers and companies using it for interior decoration or the production of products and things comes down to the rejection of aromatization. And under the harsh pressure of environmental directives and regulations, in the short term, the skin may completely lose its artificial fragrance and will not have any smell at all. That does not exclude the risk that the leather product will smell of what it lay next to during its journey to the final consumer. Because the skin perfectly absorbs and retains the odors surrounding it.
Therefore, it is almost impossible to determine the smell of genuine leather.