Vegan leather - a phrase that is fast becoming a household name. As an ethical, sustainable, and cruelty-free alternative to traditional leather, vegan leather is in great demand in the fashion industry. Some of the most prestigious fashion brands are already using it.
So, what is vegan leather? Vegan leather has a couple of different names like artificial leather, synthetic leather, or fake leather, all of which describe more or less what it is: an alternative to leather that looks like traditional leather but doesn't use any animal skin or fur.
The most commonly used materials for vegan leathers are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU), which are plastic-based materials. Another term for fake leather is 'pleather', which comes from the term ‘plastic leather’.
Besides polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU), there are ostensibly many fantastic vegan leathers out there: cork, upcycled rubber, mushroom leather, grape leather, apple leather, and pineapple leather. There is an all-fruit combination which is simply fruit leather. Other options included paper, waxed cotton, tree bark leather, pinatas, coffee leather, nettle leather, recycled tires, and even lab-grown leather.
Vegan leather is produced with different chemicals and a different industrial process to traditional leather. Bonding together a plastic coating to a fabric backing is the most common way to make faux leather. To define whether or not it is eco friendly, we have to look into the types of plastic used in these coatings and decide which option is the most suitable.
PU is the more modern and slightly less damaging plastic. PU is constantly technically developed to reduce its flaws like the hazardous toxins it releases during the manufacturing process and the oil-based polymers it’s made with.
Confession of Plastic Leather
Although most vegan leather is made from PVC or PU, both plastic-based materials, we’re well aware of our planet’s plastic problem. ‘Pleather’ is still the more sustainable and ethical option when it comes to handbags, belts, wallets, and shoes, and all things you’d typically find using leather. When considering chemistry, resource depletion, eutrophication, global warming, and water scarcity, ‘pleather’ has a lower environmental impact per kilogram of material produced than animal leather
Why Choosing Vegan Leather?
As we are now living in an increasingly environmentally conscious time, vegan leather seems a great choice to fit our lifestyle. When it comes to luxury fashion’s use of vegan leather, designer brand, Stella McCartney, is a pioneering force and has been using vegan leather since 2003. More and more formidable fashion forces like SERENE, JW PEI, Matt & Nat are joining this vegan handbag trend and are making big waves in the fashion industry.
Not only does vegan leather create less environmental impact, it is often a lot thinner than traditional leather, making it more lightweight to carry. It is also usually more affordable than real leather, which is good news for all fashion lovers.