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Buyer Beware: Substiquality

As consumers, we are drawn to sleek designs, trendy styles, and affordable prices. However, many fail to realize that behind the facade of beauty lies a growing trend known as ‘substiquality.’

This practice involves manufacturers compromising on the quality of materials used in furniture to cut costs while maintaining outward appearances. If you have heard of ‘shrinkflation’ this is somewhat similar.

The emergence of substiquality is not recent but has steadily gained momentum over the past few decades. As globalization reshaped manufacturing processes, companies sought cheaper alternatives to traditional materials without sacrificing visual appeal.

This shift allowed manufacturers to produce furniture that looks just as good as its high-quality counterparts but at a fraction of the cost.

One of the primary reasons substiquality works is that it caters to how consumers tend to buy—based only on affordability and style.

By using lower-cost materials as substitutes, such as fake leather (tacto piel) instead of genuine leather or cheaper foams (HD) instead of better quality high-resiliency (HR) foams, manufacturers and retailers can offer nice-looking furniture at lower prices.

However, while substiquality is a win for the manufacturer and retailer, it has significant drawbacks for the purchaser. Using inferior materials means that furniture will not withstand everyday wear and tear.

This approach results in a shorter lifespan for the product, leading to more frequent replacements and, ultimately, higher long-term costs for the consumer.

Identifying substiquality in furniture requires a discerning eye and an understanding of common material substitutions. For example, genuine leather tends to be supple and develops a rich patina over time, whereas fake leather (tacto piel) may feel stiff and lack the same depth of texture.

Similarly, high-density foam will feel the same as high-resiliency foam when the sofa or sectional is in the store, but within six months of use, the sofa or sectional with the high-density foam will compress and feel like sitting on concrete.

Since it is almost impossible to know if the materials in each piece of furniture are substituted or the real deal, it is critical for consumers to research and buy from trusted manufacturing and retail brands.

Reputable companies prioritize quality and transparency in their production processes, ensuring that customers receive furniture that lasts, or if using substitute materials, the consumer is made aware of the item’s life span.

Understanding substiquality and its implications empowers consumers to buy right the first time. When it comes to furniture, invest in furniture that not only looks good but also lasts longer than two seasons.

We specialize in helping you find the manufacturers and suppliers that use the correct materials.

Visit us at our Puerto Vallarta store: 363A Constitucion just off Basilio Badillo or our Bucerias store at Heroes de Nacozari 126. Not currently in Mexico? We are online at, or you can send a text by WhatsApp to +52 322 136 5156.


  • Sheryl Novak

    Originally from Canada, Sheryl started SOLutions Mexico in 2010 after experiencing firsthand the difficulties of furnishing a home when you are new to the country. She is recognized as the leading expert in Mexico regarding furniture and is regularly featured on blogs, social media, podcasts, and speaking engagements.


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