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Pretty in Pla$tic

It's not exactly new material. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says the first known use of it was in 1982.

Clothing purchase
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Clothing purchase

Like the bull market, we haven't seen a big push for faux leather or "pleather" in a long time. But, it's making a comeback. What polyester was to John Travolta in 1977, pleather may be to us in 2010.

Wall Street Strategies Research Analyst Brian Sozzi says retailers are betting heavily right now on the plastic leather for jackets and boots. The trend started last holiday season.

Pleather is cheaper and more durable than leather. You can wear it in the rain, snow, and even machine wash it.

"The consumer sees more bang for the buck with pleather. They can get more detailing and even a hood for way less than the traditional leather jacket" says Sozzi.

Many retailers are stocking up on the man-made leather. JCPenney is selling $59.99 women's pleather boots and jackets. Guess is advertising a 100% polyurethane men's aviator bubble jacket for $158.00.

Sozzi says it's a good retail strategy in this tough economy. "People don't want to make an investment in leather right now. If I am wearing a pleather jacket from 50 yards away, it still looks like a leather jacket," says Sozzi. (Analyst Disclosure: Sozzi used to own a pleather jacket. Family ownership: His brother.)

Even high-end retailers such as Saks and Neiman Marcus are hoping to capitalize on the faux leather trend. Saks is selling a women's Helmut Lang denim cadet jacket (cotton/polyurethane) on sale for $159.99 (Originally $395.) Neiman Marcus is offering leggings (cotton/polyurethane) for $190.

Call it pleather couture... or just pretty in plastic.

Stephanie is Squawk Box producer and senior NetNet retail correspondent. Follow her on twitter @StephLandsman

Questions? Comments? Email us atNetNet@cnbc.com

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