Generally speaking, I find leather to be the best option for recliners because they can handle the wear and tear better than most fabrics. Recliners without handles require you to push on the arms to extend the footrest, which can wear out the fabric faster (friends don't let friends use arms caps). In addition, as the backrest reclines, it rubs against the frame of the chair, creating friction on the upholstery.
While leather is a more expensive option, for a long term investment, it's a better choice. I was able to score my new recliner for a great deal by stalking, ahem, carefully watching the floor sample prices on the one I wanted.