I own many faux-leather products - a jacket, purses, boots. I recently inspected the tag of the jacket (something about the season change has me fancying to learn about different fabrics; warm fabrics, preferably). All it said was "Non-leather."

I own many faux-leather products - a jacket, purses, boots. I recently inspected the tag of the jacket (something about the season change has me fancying to learn about different fabrics; warm fabrics, preferably). All it said was "Non-leather."

That's it? I knew that much. Saying only that faux leather is made with non-leather is like saying veggie burgers are made from non-meat.

Dismayed, I checked my other faux-leather possessions. The tags were similarly evasive. The boots just said "Man-made materials." The purse listed only "Simulated leather."

Alas, buying a real leather jacket has been added to my life to-do list. You might be considering buying one, too. Leather is a gender-neutral fabric that assimilates into almost every style, from bikers to punks, cowboys to Brit-rock hipsters.

It can work into any wardrobe as smoothly as it should feel - like butter.

"Quality leather feels really good to the touch," said Maren Roth of Rowe boutique. "I always find cheaper leather tends to smell a bit and just feels really stiff and rough."

When trying it on, recognize that the material changes with time.

"Leather will stretch and wear into your shape," she said. "Similar to denim it will loosen up a bit once you wear it a few times."

Local designer Kelli Martin offered a directive you don't hear often when shopping: Take a whiff.

"Smell is key for me when buying leather," Martin said. "If it smells like leather, it is usually pretty good leather, or at least hasn't been covered by chemical-based sprays."

A quality, well-fitted new leather jacket begins at around $500, Roth said, and can top $1,200.

Then there's always the vintage route. Julia Smythe, co-owner of Grandview's CoCo Couture, said she just picked up hundreds of vintage leather coats from an estate sale with "fabulous price points" of $32 to $80. She looks for leather that's not too distressed and has remained smoke-free.

Those who prefer to cut the cow out all together might like Express' (Minus the) Leather line. It's pricier than big-box faux-leather - the men's peacoat is $248 - but they'll actually tell you what the fabric is: 100 percent polyurethane.

Objects of Desire is a bi-weekly column that explores the items Columbus shoppers crave. Follow Jackie Mantey on Twitter at @Jackie_Mantey.