I think the quality of the leather being used at time of manufacture tends to vary, it shouldn't, but it seems to be the case.
I personally have a very bad concept of MINI's real cowhide upholstery options. Everytime I look inside a used MINI with leather seats these tend to look horrible, whereas, the cars with the Leatherette still look factory fresh.
Even new MINIs in the showroom, probably ex-demos, already show big signs of leather seating wear...yuck!
IMHO, don't waste the money in leather ($1,250) and get the standard no cost and fantastic Leatherette material...has the look and feel of leather without the hefty costs (The MINI leather is overpriced, period)of real cowhide and all the durability and maintenance issues.
Our leatherette seats still look showroom new after 10 months of use. When people come to "motor" with us, they think we have leather seats and their jaws drop when we tell them that the seats are "plastic" or vinyl!!!! Platic has come a long way baby!!
The Leatherette seating material used in the MINI is the same exact high quality BMW Leatherette material found in the current BMW 3 series. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the MINI's real leather vs the Leather quality used in BMW products.