Here's what you need to know when buying vegan leather
Are you sick of the exploitative and cruel leather industry but want to enjoy well-made and high-quality leather-like goods? If you're a vegan, you'll know the market is full of vegan-friendly products, but have you found the perfect vegan leather options? There's great news for you because vegan leather is now affordable, high-quality, and, most importantly, cruelty-free!
Humans have been using leather and hide to make clothing and other objects for thousands of years, as early as 1300 BC. It's no wonder since leather is durable, strong, and comfortable. But with so many alternative options available to us, it's time to think about sustainability and ethical resources.
Making a vegan leather purchase requires some knowledge about what vegan leather is, and what kind of products are available, as well as their environmental cost. Become an informed consumer and choose quality vegan leather products that will make you look stylish and give you peace of mind.
What is vegan leather?
It's most commonly known as faux-leather, pleather, or synthetic leather – a fabric/material that imitates the texture of animal skins. Essentially vegan leather looks like animal skin aesthetically but is NOT made from animal products. Many fashion retailers are moving from real leather to sustainable vegan leather due to changing customer habits. Not only is vegan leather more sustainable, but it is also cruelty-free and looks quite chic! Alternative leather is affordable and much more environmentally friendly than authentic leather because eco-conscious materials are used for production.
Vegan leather is increasing in popularity at a rapid rate – it's estimated that the industry will be worth $85 billion by 2025. That's proof that consumers are looking to make more ethical and sustainable fashion and lifestyle choices to reduce their negative impact on our planet.
Vegan leather products can look and feel just like the real thing! Have you bought yourself a vegan leather backpack that doesn't compromise on style, design, and durability?
Vegan leather goods are crafted with sustainability and aesthetic appeal in mind, but consider these three aspects before buying:
- Patina (texture and feel of a product): Patina refers to the effect of daily wear and tear on the surface of a leather or faux leather product. With animal skins, the object tends to look better with age but with synthetic leather, this effect of wear and tear is created during production. You'll often see a distressed effect on products to make them look more authentic since synthetic leather doesn't get its own patina naturally.
- Permeability: refers to a product's ability to allow liquids to pass through. Faux leather is less permeable than animal leather, and it's often waterproof, especially if it's made from plastic.
- Biodegradability: will the product decompose in landfills? Not all faux leather is truly eco-friendly. Only some plant-based leathers are biodegradable.
This type of information is usually available in product descriptions.
What is vegan leather made of?
You're probably asking yourself, 'what is faux leather anyway?'
Many materials imitate the texture and feel of real leather, but most vegan leather is made from either plant-based materials or plastics. To make the best vegan leather purchase, choose materials that are soft, sturdy, but produced sustainably. Keep reading to find out about the four most common materials used in the production of synthetic leather.
One of the most common leather substitutes is manufactured from a polymer called polyurethane (PU). These products are known as pleather. This plastic imitates the texture of animal skin, and it looks and feels realistic. PU is a popular choice for fashion brands because it is a material that can be transformed into any color, and it's flexible to work with. PU is usually produced under strict environmental regulations. This material is manufactured by applying a coat of polyurethane to plastic materials like nylon or polyester.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or vinyl, is a cheaper plastic-based material that is used in synthetic leather products. Still, it's not considered to be a sustainable or true 'vegan leather' product because it is made of fossil fuels. Most specialists call PVC products' leather alternatives' as opposed to 'vegan leather.' PVC is cheap to manufacture, so it's a popular choice for fashion brands, especially in the fast fashion industry, but it can be shiny and lacks the texture of real leather.
Plant-Based Vegan Leather
Brands that want to appeal to customers looking for sustainable alternatives are using all types of new materials for vegan leather, including fruit waste such as apple peels, cork, glazed cotton, as well as recycled plastics and waste. Most plant-based vegan leathers are innovative, new materials, made from fibres and the unused and often wasted parts of fruit and plants.
You might've heard of the popular natural material called Piñatex– made from pineapples and pineapple waste, mainly cellulose fibers from the leaves. The environmental benefits of Piñatex are apparent – the material is made from waste products and agricultural byproducts, meaning that there is no waste created, and there are no harsh chemicals used during production. It's basically an upcycled product that is durable and high-quality, which requires no other raw resources in the production process.
Another popular option is a fruit-based vegan leather called Apple Leather. This material uses the byproducts of the apple juice and cider industry. Apple pulp is treated and rolled up into material, which is biodegradable. Even apple peels and other parts of the apple can be treated and turned into faux leather in a sustainable manner: only 1 liter of water is required to produce 1 meter of fabric.
Now that you've learned some info about different types of faux-leather, you can start shopping right away!
Buying Vegan Leather Online
A great way to start buying vegan leather products is to do some research online and find great options. The advantage of buying from an online shop is that you have a niche vegan shop that carries a large variety, and you don't need to leave the house, searching for shops that sell vegan leather. There are many wonderful brands that produce vegan leather products and accessories, such as Peta approved Urban Originals.
All of us buy handbags, wallets, purses, belts, footwear, and clothing, but do you ever ask yourself what material something is made from? Did you know that vegan leather purses and wallets are trendy, stylish, and durable? Sustainable and vegan fashion doesn't have to sacrifice quality and design. Kindness and style go hand in hand when you choose to support businesses making a difference!
Whether you live a proud vegan lifestyle, or you are just now switching from leather products to vegan leather, start with a purchase of wallets and purses to convince yourself that faux leather is a fantastic choice!
Not long ago, buying a good quality vegan wallet was tough, they would lose their shape, and they would just fall apart after a short while. Lucky for us, that's no longer the case because so many great alternative leather products are available at affordable prices!
Be proud of yourself for investing in vegan leather goods and continue practicing compassionate and informed buying!