Updated: Jun 28, 2020
It looks like leather, it feels like leather, but it’s definitely not made from an animal’s skin or hide. Vegan leather is every leather aficionado’s dream come true. The same elegant looks, the same gorgeous textures, but cruelty-free and animal-friendly.
But what exactly is vegan leather?
History of Vegan Leather
Veganism has been around for decades, but the vegan movement recently saw an upsurge in popularity in the 2010s. It has slowly gained traction in mainstream society and correspondingly driven growth in a number of sectors as manufacturers, retailers and service providers scrambled to capture this growing market.
Vegan leather was marketing’s answer to consumers’ demand for a vegan-friendly option in the fashion industry.
Vegan Leather, Faux Leather, Pleather?
If you’re wondering what the difference is between vegan leather, faux leather and pleather (a portmanteau of plastic and leather, for the uninitiated), well, the simple answer is - for the most part, there is none.
Vegan leather, faux leather, pleather and other types of “leather” made from non-animal materials all fall under the category of artificial leather. These fabrics are commonly made from fabrics in the Polymer family such as vinyl and PU (polyurethane) as well as newer alternatives such as cork leather, mushroom leathers and Piñatex. All of these are used to create leather-like alternatives with a range of different properties and perks.
These fabrics can be used to create a wide variety of items. Everything from home decor, outerwear, footwear, bags and more. For example White Rhino Bags utilizes the fabric to create their Signature Collection Backpacks which come in a number of nature inspired colors. Made from an extremely soft, plush high quality vegan leather. The qualities of the fabric make the bag water resistant, very durable and easy to clean - all properties that a traditional animal-derived leather bag would fall short on. The design of the backpack has a special strap that allows you to switch from one shoulder strap to two easily.
Vegan Leather - Better for the Environment?
While the vegan movement has primarily been concerned with the animal-cruelty aspect of leather, vegan leather isn’t just catering to this niche. Set aside the ethical issues associated with raising animals and then subsequently slaughtering them for their skins to be made into bags, belts and shoes. If you care even one bit about about the environment and the world we live in, animal leather should be on your boycott list.
The tanning industry has long been known to have significant negative impacts on the environment. The rearing of animals for their skins is also places a great burden on the environment. The Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 report jointly published by Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group reveals shocking statistics that cow leather has the “overall highest environmental impact” of all the textiles evaluated. In contrast, synthetic leather only has one-third of that impact. While not a perfect choice, it is nonetheless a far better alternative in terms of lower environmental impact. Considering the durability and longevity of synthetic leathers means that items will have to be replaced less often making them a more sustainable option.
As technology advances, so do manufacturers in their production methods. Ingenuity and creativity go hand in hand to produce incredibly authentic alternatives that mimic leather in texture and appearance.
Recycled rubber, paper, and other plant-based leather alternatives are constantly entering the market - providing consumers with a variety of truly eco-friendly vegan leather options. In some cases, vegan leather is not just eco-friendly, but also wallet-friendly too, retailing at prices lower than animal-hide leather.
Get Your Vegan Leather Fix
Stylish, affordable and easier on the environment? Sign me up! If you’re dying to get your fix of vegan leather products, the good news is that such products are becoming more and more ubiquitous.
From bags to jackets, jewelry to accessories - if you can think of it, chances are someone has already made a version of it in vegan leather. Paguro Upcycle has gorgeous accessories made from recycled rubber, while Free People has a range of vegan jackets to suit any taste. If your passion is shoes, Nicora Footwear has you covered with a collection made from recycled materials and organic waste. Also, check out White Rhino Bags for a selection of cute vegan leather bags, suitable for any occasion.
Vegan Leather = Vegan Essential
The choice is clear. When it comes to jazzing up your wardrobe, vegan leather products should be your go to. With such a wide variety of manufacturers and retailers catering to consumers who are increasingly demanding animal-friendly, cruelty-free, vegan products, it’s easy to make the right choice.
You don’t have to kill anything to have a killer look. Make vegan leather your choice.