Is Fabric the Better Cost Alternative to Leather?

The Moire Fabric sofa

Imagine this - you’ve just paid for your BTO/HDB/condominium down payment. You’ll get the keys soon so you’ve got to start planning what your future home looks like. From exterior to interior, down right to the furniture legs. You’re stressed out. So many things to buy, so much money flowing out from your bank account. Now you need to decide which sofa type to buy, a leather one or a fabric one. Which should you pick?

Though it’s quite common for leather to be more expensive than fabric ones, does that mean you should go for the fabric one just because it's cheaper? Well…yes and no. Buying a furniture is a long term investment. Apart from the cost, there are many other variables to consider. In fact, it may pinch your wallet now but if you spread out the cost over the time that you use it, your return of investment might very well be worth it. Let us break down the pros and cons of buying fabric furniture.


1. Affordability

a. Availability 

High quality leather is a natural product from animals which is often scarce or limited. This affects the demand and supply and often leads to high prices. Fabric on the other hand is more readily available as they are mass produced on a larger scale, therefore making it cheaper than real leather.

b. Production cost

Leather production is more complex, requiring specialised equipment operated by skilled labour. However, fabrics tend to undergo less stringent procedures and as mentioned before, can be mass produced with consistent quality and standards so lesser time and manpower is required to check each piece individually.

2. Soft Comfort 

Fabric upholstery tends to provide a softer touch and sitting compared to leather upholstery. The fabric absorbs the shock when you first land and slowly, you sink in. If that sounds like heavenly comfort to you, then perhaps fabric might just be for you. It’s great for you to lounge and relax on for long hours.

 Fabric provides a softer look for our Gaia bed too!

3. Variety 

Some people may not like the feel of leather. Well fabric has quite a large range of feel for one to consider, each with their unique characteristics. You have the common ones like cotton and then you have the polyester ones. (FYI, J. edition’s fabric is made out of recycled plastic bottles to create the polyester velvet fabric! Trying to be green here!) Also, leather could wrinkle over time but fabric (especially polyester ones) is more wrinkle resistant. These are just some of the more common fabrics used in furniture making. 

Some of our polyester fabric colours


1. Maintenance

There are two ways to look at fabric maintenance. It's easy since you can simply pop it into the washing machine and let it do the work for you but it becomes bothersome when you would have to remove and deep clean the sofa covers every so often, once every six months. 

We understand the pain point of maintaining fabric furniture so we suggest just washing the covers that users normally come into contact with. With that being said, while the Gaia bed has fully removable covers, we leave you the option of choosing which parts you would want to wash! The Moire sofa also has removable covers on its back and seat cushions. From the rest of the furniture frame, you can simply spray the areas with fabric cleaners. (P.S if your covers for the Gaia and Moire get worn out over time, you can get back to us for new ones. This way, you don't have to throw away a perfectly good frame and buy a whole new set just because of the worn out covers. Saving you cost while being sustainable!)

If you made a small spill and don’t feel like washing the whole cover, the Renzo Fabric Cleaning Kit is a quick remedy. Spray the Fabric Cleaner on the spill area then let it sit for about a minute. Next, use the brush and brush the stain diagonally. Lastly, dab on the area with the lint-free cloth. If the stain persists, repeat the same procedure but with the Fabric Stain Remover.

For a more detailed tutorial on using the Renzo Fabric Cleaning Kit, click here.

2. Allergenic

If you own pets who shed a lot, the fibres in the fabric make it easier to trap the hair and dust compared to leather. Or even if you don’t own a pet, perhaps you have a family member who is sensitive to dust. You might want to reconsider fabric upholsteries. This again leads to maintenance, whereby you could use a lint roller to pick up the dust and hair. 


Whether you end up choosing a fabric or leather upholstery, it’s never wrong to pair it with fabric decorative cushions or a fabric throw. This can soften the overall look and add some splashes of colour and create a texture contrast. 

At the end of the day, is it worth buying a fabric option over a leather one just because it is cheaper? Maybe, but we urge you to consider the many factors first before deciding, especially if you are someone who dislikes having cleaning duties. Now if you’re wondering what’s so good about leather upholstery, find out more here.