I learned it the hard way when I was a brand new baby biker: just because it’s leather doesn’t mean it’s motorcycle gear.
Some leather is super thin, it’s “fashion weight” and will not protect you in any kind of unplanned contact with asphalt. Decent riding gear is heavy weight, full-grain cowhide, or sometimes kangaroo hide; heck, pieces of it can be ceramic, or stingray hide. This video brings up excellent points that new riders or riders who are new to gear don’t always know. Just because it’s leather doesn’t mean it will protect you.
How do you know if riding gear is worth its salt, and will stand up for more than, say, half a crash? The easiest way is to buy it from a reputable motorcycle gear dealer. You’ll be able to really look at it, pick it up, play with it, feel the weight of it, note the armor it has, inspect the stitching, and sniff it. Admit it: you smell a jacket to make sure it’s real leather, right?
Buy gear made by a reputable motorcycle gear company. This one’s a bit tougher if you’re not familiar with all the different brands of motorcycle gear, but since you’re already deep into this serious, slightly dangerous, very expensive sport anyway, it behooves you to learn about major motorcycle gear brands. Every time you’re in a dealership or parts shop, take the time to try some stuff on and you’ll get an idea about how fitment varies across brands, who makes the stuff that fits your shape the best, what’s good stuff and what’s already falling apart on the rack. You'll be able to spot a piece of counterfeit gear very easily once you know what's what.
Buy gear that feels substantial, and whose stitching is even, well-trimmed and not unraveling anywhere on the garment. If there are pieces of string hanging off, uneven stitching, or it is beginning to fall apart, chances are it won’t hold up to the rigors of daily wear let alone a sliding impact with an immovable object.
Buy gear that has obvious, removable armor. Why removable? Because armor doesn’t last forever; it ages out, sometimes when your really good leather jacket is still perfectly serviceable. Cheap or fake motorcycle gear might have double-thickness leather (if that) on impact zones like shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. Good motorcycle gear has armor in pockets in those locations. CE rated armor is sometimes made of plastic and sometimes made of dense foam. This stuff will degrade after years of exposure to temperature extremes and your sweat. Here’s your reminder: check the armor in your riding gear, and if it’s falling apart, replace it!
Buy a decent helmet from a reputable source and a trusted manufacturer. This one is important. Buy the best, and best-fitting, helmet you can afford. If it’s comfortable you’re more likely to wear it. Buy a good helmet. Wear your helmet.
So, unless you’re going to wear them as a fashion statement while driving your minivan, skip the sketchy eBay BMW jacket with a logo that looks more like a biohazard warning, and take a pass on the super inexpensive but totally (they promise) legit Daibese and Hinda motorcycle-style gear.