The main difference between leather and leatherette is that leather comes from animals and leatherette is a man-made product. Leather is extremely durable and considered luxurious, whereas leatherette is quicker to wear out and costs much less.
Manufacturers treat animal hides with chemicals to produce leather, a long-lasting material used in upholstery and other applications. Covering synthetic cloth fibers with polyvinyl chloride produces leatherette, which resembles real leather.
Leather is much more expensive, is not washable and is biodegradable. Leatherette, on the other hand, does not biodegrade and can be washed as necessary. Manufacturers sometimes combine the two, using leather as seating surface and leatherette for the surrounding surfaces on items such as sofas and car seats.