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What the Heck is Vegan Leather?

Why I’d Just Say ‘No’ to Vegan Leather

By Jody McCutcheon

After hearing from my sister that the Falabella bag by Stella McCartney was constructed from a leather substitute, and that Natalie Portman was starting her own vegan leather shoe line, I started to wonder: what the heck is meant by ‘vegan leather’ anyway?  And is it really more eco-friendly than ‘normal’ leather?

This leather substitute is used to make clothing, shoes, accessories, upholstery and more. It’s often indistinguishable from the real thing, and is much cheaper to manufacture than leather–even though designers, like McCartney, inflate the price. While a few vegan leathers are cork- or kelp-based, the vast majority of faux leather has been around for ages, and is made of scary materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane and textile-polymer composite microfibres.

In other words, generally speaking, ‘vegan leather’ reeks, literally and figuratively, of petroleum.

 

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Vegan Leather and the Environment

It gets worse. Both leather and vegan leather production emit chemicals harmful to environment and factory workers alike. Leather production’s preparatory stage, in which the raw animal hide is prepared for tanning, usually incorporates substances (like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia) which put factory workers at risk for skin, respiratory, ocular or nerve damage, or in cases of extreme overexposure, death.

The tanning stage prevents hides from rotting (as normal skin would normally do), often through the use of  chromium, which then leaks into nearby soil and water at high enough levels to be carcinogenic and mutagenic. For every tonne of hide produced, twenty to eighty cubic metres of chemically toxic, pathogen-contaminated wastewater is unleashed on the environment. And Amazon rainforests are being depleted at a rate of one hectare every eighteen seconds by cattle ranchers looking to cash in on a bustling market for luxury leather items.

Despite these eco-horrors, many eco-warriors find vegan leather production even worse. For example, the manufacture and incineration of PVC-based synthetics produce one of the most toxic chemicals known to man: dioxins. Found in almost every single modern human’s body, dioxins promote developmental disturbances and increase cancer risks tenfold.

Since plastic-based synthetics don’t fully biodegrade, they produce micro-particles that are ingested by animals and thus enter the food chain at all levels: even Arctic polar bears have been found to have dioxins in their bloodstream. When it does break down, vegan leather releases phthalates–initially added as a softening agent–which subsequently enter the food chain and the atmosphere, causing breathing problems, breast cancers, hormonal disruptions and birth defects.

 

Rachel's

So-called ‘ethical’ brand, Melissa, with whom Vivienne Westwood often collaborates, uses mainly PVC in their ‘vegan leather’ shoes.

 

Microfiber, Mega Problem

Many major vegan leather brands claim their products are made of ‘eco friendly’ PU (Polyurethane) microfibers, used because their ‘feel’ is similar to that of leather, and it can be imprinted with grains that mimic suede and natural skins. But make no mistake–there is no such thing as ‘eco friendly’ PU.

In the production of microfiber-based synthetics, textiles and polymers are often layered together and compressed several times through metal rollers, then submersed in a coagulation solution to solidify. This chemical process requires excessive levels of toxic substances like dimethylformamide, which has also been linked to cancer and birth defects, and acetic acid, high doses of which can damage skin and eyes.

According to an article in the Observer,  a study conducted in 2011 showed that 60-85% of human-made material found on shorelines consisted of microfibers from textiles. The leading author of the study, Mark Anthony Browne, is currently working with researchers at the University of South Wales and University of Sydney in Australia to create libraries of the different types of micro fibers omitted into the environment from our clothing and how they adversely affect aquatic life. His research has attracted the attention of marine science researchers and government agencies in Australia, Europe and USA but has received no support from major clothing brands.

Any Alternatives?

Some manufacturers, including Valentino and the entire Gucci Group (now known as Kering) are very much aware of the issues surrounding leather production, and have now vowed to use only vegetable dyes, natural tanning processes, and slaughter only cattle raised on old farmland, as opposed to newly razed rain forests. (Valentino and Kering are also phasing out harmful PVC from their fashion goods–unlike the allegedly ‘eco friendly’ designer, Vivienne Westwood, who continues to use it in some of her bags and shoes.)  Other brands are using alternative leathers, including fish and eel skins, which usually thrown away as waste in the food production process.

If you’re looking for eco-friendly vegan leather accessories, there are few that beat the sustainability of those made from Piñatex, created from pineapple industry waste. Today, an increasing number of brands, including NAE Vegan, Bourgeois Boheme and even Hugo Boss are doing great things with this material. Alternatively, cork is another leather-like substance that looks fabulous in bags and wallets, such as those created by Corx and Matt and Nat.

‘Real’ leathers have been used by man for millennia, and when sourced from sustainable ranches and tanned and dyed naturally, these have the potential to be less damaging to the environment than most ‘vegan’ leathers, save those rare ones created from natural materials like cotton or cork. Of course, animal advocates will abhor the use of hide leather, due to the fact that animals die for us to use their skins, and that is quite right. But the hard reality is that most ‘vegan leather’ is far from an environmentally friendly alternative, and saying it is so is nothing but pure greenwashing.

Ultimately, even the most adamant vegans need to consider this fact: the pollution caused by ‘vegan leathers’ seems to hurt all other animals, including humans, in the long run.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pvc

Images: Stella McCartney and Te Casan

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54 Comments

  • Reply
    Dominique Drakefird
    Sep 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Hello, my name is Dominique Drakeford- an eco fashion publicist in NY and I am interested in submitting an article called “Dumpster and Christian Dior- Rubbish Scented Dress”.

    I would love to know how I can go about getting my article published.

    Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,

    Dominique Drakeford

  • Reply
    Maria
    Oct 19, 2013 at 4:26 am

    It is a good point that man-made leather is not as eco-friendly as some think (doesn’t bio-degrade same way and does involve harmful chemicals in the production process).

    Some stores selling real leather products (shoes, bags, furniture) say they use the leather that is a by-product of meat industry. I can see how if we are not vegetarian as a specie – we might as well use the skin of the animals who are being killed for food anyway.

    But what many people don’t consider and not aware of is that many of those meat farms really abuse animals their entire lives. If you ever seen an average meat farm where cows stand back-to-back without ever having a chance to lay down or even turn around – it would break your heart.

    And sadly, a leather is often sourced from third-world countries, where there is just no concept of animal rights and anything goes.

    So if you chose to use leather – just do some research as far as where did the animal skin came from and how the animal was treated there.

    Wholefoods, for example, has entire program that monitors human treatment of farm-animals, where top-grade farms have animals roaming around green fields their entire lives as oppose to be caged, beaten and abused. So there must be some decent sources of leather out there. Unfortunately it has proven hard to find.

    But the bottom is – as long as we support business practicing or being complacent with animal cruelty – we are being part of that and it is our money that fund further animal abuse.

    P.S. While not on entirely same subject, but it is related – if you like real fur, you should know that the animals on fur farms are kept in very small cages their entire lives, beaten and subject to gene mutations to produce better furs (red fox turning pure white to sell as arctic fox). These genetic mutations cause animals cancers.

    But worst of all – animals are often skinned BEFORE they are even fully dead. So just remember that. Every time you buy real fur – you keep those sadistic people in business and animals in the worst nightmare imaginable.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Oct 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Hi Maria

      Your points are all valid and very interesting. At Eluxe, we agree that animal welfare must be of paramount importance, and we endeavour to only cover those companies whose policies are to use leathers and furs from carefully monitored sources where abuse does not happen. Additionally, we will not cover brands that use leather from cattle raised on former rain forest land in the Amazon.

      Some luxury companies are strict about this. For example, Valentino, all the companies in the Kering group, including Gucci, St Laurent and Alexander McQueen, but also smaller brands like Husna sandals. Other leather brands we cover include Rebecca-Jane, which uses only upcycled leathers.

      If you ever see a brand written up in Eluxe who is using leather from unsustainable sources, please let us know asap. We appreciate your feedback!!

    • Reply
      huaquer
      Jan 22, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Faux leather are made in china, wich is a country with zero human rights (Tibet issue), no workers rights (slaves conditions and child labour) and no enviroment protection laws. I don’t think the faux leather is more eco firendly than the real leather, china is a cancer in this world, if you buy faux leather that is made in china, you are contaminated the world!.

      • Reply
        Mike V
        Dec 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

        huaquer, do you know how toxic chromium VI is? this stuff causes cancer. leather workers are and will be contaminated with this substance. Think twice before you say working in leather industry is more healthy than to work at a PVC manufacturer. secondly animal farming is number one reason for the destruction of the rain forest and climate change.

        • Reply
          Hemal
          Feb 1, 2015 at 11:43 am

          Hi Mike,
          I completely agree with your point that animal farming is one of the main reason behind destruction of ain forest.
          I personally believe that man made leather is better option then using Animal skin just for our pleasure only. No reason can justify using animal skin is fair compare to man made leather. You can use sports shoe also and some canvas shoe also.
          Thanking you,
          Hemal

        • Reply
          Liya D
          Oct 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm

          Mike V,

          Hevaxalent chromium (Cr (VI)) is not used to tan leather. It’s the result of the oxidation of Cr III. This oxidation occurs when the PH of the vat is not under strict control (which I believe it to be over 3.2, but I may be wrong).

          The problem with Cr VI (as you said, a very toxic substance), is that it’s present in leather products made with hides that have been tanned in tanneries that lack the necessary waste treatment systems (which results in wastewater high in chromium, lead and arsenic that ends up in landfills).

          In the EU tanneries comply with environmental regulations and health and safety rules. Thus, leather products made with traceable and EU made hides do not contain salt of dichromate acid, nor Cr VI.

          Now, having said that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with you when you say that animal farming (which I guess you are referring to “extensive farming”) is one of the major causes of the destruction of our environment. I would also add oil palm trees, coffee plants, soybean, even eucalyptus trees… Absolutely everything mankind produces has a negative effect on the environment. Perhaps one possible solution is to reduce consumption, or at least do it responsibly.

          In any case, this “vegan leather” trend is so misleading that the use of the term should be highly regulated. “Vegan” doesn’t mean “environmentally friendly” and consumers should be aware of that.

    • Reply
      Mary-Anne
      Mar 25, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      The purchasing of Vegan leather is not just about the eco impact, but about the cruelty that goes hand in hand with the leather industry. I you can watch the slaughter & treatment of the animals that are used for leather, then maybe you are okay with wearing leather products.

      I have worked in high end retail and no longer can condone the designers charging massive amounts for their products without concern to ethics and compassion. The designers could truly set a new industry standard if they desired , by branding their products as ethical, but that would require more work than they care to do.

      I do believe that the world is at a point that we need to be accountable for the other living beings in this world and know that we are doing everything in our power to change things for the better in this world. By buying Vegan leather , I will feel so much better about my choice to be fashionable , but yet care about other living creatures at the same time.

      • Reply
        Julie Roberts
        Aug 18, 2015 at 2:24 am

        Thank you! Both methods produce pollutants, one produces pollutants and enslaves, tortures and cruelly kills other sentient beings in the process. I’ll take the cruelty free pollution any day of the week! I do all that I can to live by the “Golden Rule”, “Do unto OTHERS as you would have OTHERS do unto you”, “OTHERS” doesn’t specify species so I feel that common sense and karma dictate that I treat everything “OTHER” than myself, as I would want to be treated. Thank you again for your speaking out on behalf of animals.

  • Reply
    Mary
    Feb 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Your use of the word ‘scary’ in front of the polymers you have listed show your lack of understanding of polymer science. Whilst there have been toxicological scares of both PVC and PUR, the toxicity is from the inhalation of the gas that is emitted once burnt as well as being in contact with food. It is of no concern when worn as clothing, unless of course you are eating food off it or planning on melting it. Most PVC used in vegan leather is made using recycled materials and whilst there are environmental issues with oil-based plastics as a whole you seem to be forgetting the environmental concerns we have with the cattle industry where ‘real’ leather comes from. Whilst it is better to get plant-based polymers for everything, your use of scare tactics to justify your love of animal flesh is ridiculous and inaccurate.

    • Reply
      DB
      Sep 7, 2014 at 11:05 am

      they fail to mention the resources needed to raise animals as well as the by products and waste from the animals themselves, the slaughter of animals and processes of creating leather. Ignorant article and very biased in my opinion

      • Reply
        Chere
        Sep 7, 2014 at 2:46 pm

        DB, don’t forget that while yes, there are vast resources used to raise animals, these pale by comparison to the damage and pollution caused by the oil industry, which is the foundation of ‘vegan leather’.

        • Reply
          Clare
          Oct 7, 2014 at 3:58 pm

          Animal agriculture is the number one contributor to climate change – it is the most destructive industry on the planet, period. Not to mention the ridiculously cruel treatment of animals. There is absolutely no reason to support the leather and fur industries.

          So you support companies that only use ‘carefully monitored sources where abuse does not happen’. Killing animals for their hides, feathers and furs is abuse.

          You don’t support companies that ‘use leather from unsustainable sources’. See my first sentence. There is nothing sustainable about animal agriculture.

    • Reply
      Pat
      Nov 26, 2014 at 2:30 am

      Mary: Excellent points. Many of the comments on this thread reflect less than a full understanding of leather alternatives. Use of leather in clothing etc. has for too long been justified as merely making use of the residuals of the meat business. In fact the reverse is true; the real profit is in selling the hide, not the meat used for food. Stop wearing animal skins and the profit incentive for killing the animals will go away.

      • Reply
        Liya D
        Oct 6, 2015 at 7:10 pm

        Pat, I’m sorry to inform you but no, the real profit is not in selling the hide. Leather is still a byproduct of meat consumption. You can visit any slaughterhouse and ask for the price of the hides. You’d be surprised. Even in tanneries, the prices of leather are not expensive, even in well-stablished tanneries (like the suppliers for luxury brands, which by the way are based in Igualada, Spain).

        Let’s stop eating meat that comes from extensive farming, and you’ll see how not only the environment but also local economies benefit from it.

    • Reply
      Julie Roberts
      Aug 18, 2015 at 2:44 am

      Thank you to you as well Mary. That verbiage is why I looked into this article. I agree with every aspect of your statements. People do feel the need to lambast anything that might inconvenience them and what they have grown accustomed to. This same mindset is the bases for The American Civil war and pretty much every war that mankind partakes of. ” (we’ve) been doing something for a long time, hence that makes it right, better and well worth continuing”, Slavery has existed for a very very long time on this planet and does so to this very day in someway, shape or form, on many continents, In this authors opinion I guess it should continue, because it’s been going on for so long…,laughable logic, I just do not understand the “logic and so called reasoning” of most human beings and their self absorbed mindset, it’s all about what “we” want, what “we” are entitled to for simply being humans. Our arrogance as a species will definitely be our undoing in the end. We are NOT on this planet alone!

    • Reply
      Chemical engineering student
      Mar 3, 2016 at 9:50 am

      I agree , I found this article while searching for the manufacturing steps in vegan leather and honestly this article throws in the material names, assuming all chemicals are evil. Yes they use dangerous chemicals but in chemical plants they are managed carefully to prevent them causing damage to those working with them. By the time the product is sold, they’re clean and far from covered in those scary chemicals.
      E.g. the computer that you probably wrote the article, they use to etch those computer boards with acid. But we seem to all be fine, because it’s been cleaned.
      Also I would advise you to look at the adjustments being made to the PVC industry, look up vinyl2010

      • Reply
        Chere
        Mar 3, 2016 at 11:57 am

        Respectfully disagree. There is NO safe way to deal with PVC, which is why it’s banned in many countries. It contains phthalates. Bisphenol A (BPA) and high levels of chlorine, all of which harm human health, not necessarily at the consumer stage, but during the manufacturing process. Contrary to what you claim (without any reference or links), chemical plants are not particularly careful when working with PVC at all: in fact, most of the toxic pollution produced by their production is spewed into the air, and is an important cause of asthma http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2014/federal-court-denies-pvc-industry-request-to-delay-pollution-protections

  • Reply
    Pawel
    Jan 25, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    You can recycle plastic, you can’t recycle “real leather” junk. If the technology is still harmful, we are to develop it. There is no need to kill anymore now. Without enough empathy, as a base of future civilisation, humans are able to find themselves in a Cyborgial Musem of Nostalgia, stuffed.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Jan 25, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Actually, the type of plastic used for vegan leather is not recyclable. Agree there is no need to kill new animals for leather–but old leather can indeed be cut up and recycled into new objects. For example, Rebecca Jane bags recycles old leather coats and even car seats into new handbags…

      • Reply
        Gigi
        Jan 31, 2015 at 7:07 pm

        While this article states that vegan leather reeks of petrolium it fails to notice that the leather industry also reeks of petrolium. Animals must be fed with grain, that grain is fertilized with petrolium based fertilizers. That follows up with animals having to be killed, implements used depend on electric (coal) and gas (natural gas or petrolium.) Then they must be transported, the skins treated (probably using machines dependent on petrolium.)

        The issue at hand is that it is easy to place a finger towards the sky and cover the sun but you cannot avoid the light around you. Saying “we cover humanely sourced furs/leathers,” have you ever watched how a fox must be skinned while alive to retain the quality of the fur? Is that humane? Or having a cow stunned only to paralysis and have it feel every second of being hung upside down to choke on its own blood? Is that humane? Denial is always a good resource, so are anger and refuting arguements based on might makes right. At the end of the day it doesn’t exist to those who don’t want to see but take a look at some videos such as eathlings, be an informed customer and at least have a say in the amounts of blood you’re willing to have pouring off your back at the expense of your conscience.

    • Reply
      Julie Roberts
      Aug 18, 2015 at 2:46 am

      You tell them Pawel!

  • Reply
    Becky Piacente
    Jun 1, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    I grew up in the time(1960s) when although something wasn’t leather…. it wasn’t referred to as “vegan leather as it is today. Could you please find the word or name used as the word to describe non-leather items in the clothing industry? I am racking my brain to remember that word and have tried every possible Google question to do so. It was a common term which was the one used to describe something if it wasn’t made out of leather.

    Thanks.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Jun 1, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      Gosh Becky, wish I could help, but actually have no idea myself! Anyone…?

      • Reply
        VintageCharacter
        Sep 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm

        Leatherette is the word you are desperately seeking, I believe.
        Yes: same rubbish. Except Old School Leatherette was even cruddier than today’s muck and would fall apart in minutes. Not good for shoes.

    • Reply
      Bridgette
      Jun 4, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      Naugahyde?

    • Reply
      Julie Roberts
      Aug 18, 2015 at 2:52 am

      Polyester, vinyl, melamine, polyurethane, polyvinyl…, there are hundreds of names for plastic and other(man made) petroleum based materials now, it’s enough to give you a migraine!

      • Reply
        Amy
        Sep 17, 2015 at 7:29 pm

        In the 2000s it was called pleather – is this the same as “vegan leather”

        • Reply
          Chere
          Sep 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm

          Pretty Much, Amy! 🙂

      • Reply
        Nanathree
        Sep 27, 2015 at 3:47 am

        PLASTIC. It is all the same. To call something “Vegan Leather” is a misnomer, selling to those ignorant of the fact that it is not leather in anyway shape or form.

        It has been, and always will be a marketing scheme for those who named it (or use it), to I imply it is leather, or has any natural components.

        I heard the term first used by Stella McCartney and was astounded that anyone could leagally name it so, and the consumer gullible enough to not believe it was a hoax.

        Replacing leather with an extremely cheap quality product to make more money is so obvious it’s embarrassing. If the designer/label/manufacturer were to charge half the price, it would make it more agreeable.

        It is plain and simply false advertising. Call pleather a pleather, or name it a new miracle product fashionably vegan friendly, but don’t try and pull the wool over this seamstresses eyes.

        To me it is like polyester…you can’t name it Vegan cotton.

  • Reply
    Rin
    Sep 29, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Did you also take into account the carbon footprint the animal used to produce real leather has on the environment?

  • Reply
    Richaro
    Jan 10, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Dioxins from burnt plastics are found in very high concentrations in animal products. If you want to reduce the amount of dioxins and other industrial toxins in your body (including flame retardants, PCBs, and PBDE), an easy way to do this is to go on a vegan diet. Industrial carcinogens build up in animal fats.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joQ7Oqxde4U

  • Reply
    ignasio
    Mar 20, 2016 at 2:35 am

    who gives a crap about the enviromment
    only care to not kill animals
    buy all the PVC you want,its not a dead animal
    dummies

  • Reply
    Native American
    Jan 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Oddly, leather wasn’t toxic when my people did it all the time. Brain-tanned, smoke-tanned…

  • Reply
    Vegan Purse
    Apr 27, 2017 at 2:56 am

    This іnformation is invaluable. Ꮃhen can I finnd
    out moгe?

  • Reply
    recipe for fit life
    Apr 28, 2017 at 8:34 am

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation however I to find this topic
    to be really something which I feel I might never understand.
    It sort of feels too complicated and extremely vast for me.
    I’m looking ahead for your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the hold of it!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    May 25, 2017 at 11:07 am

    Helllooooo! Im a Pescetarian, Vegan and Vegetarian. Meaning 4 x a 3 x weekly! Why do you sound so horriblly negative towards Vegan stuff?? Did you realize Most animals SUFFER badly for non Vegan Fashion and beauty products.
    Animals are even skinned and boiled alive, just for your NON VEGAN stuff so it Looks and taste better!! !
    Animals were on EARTH before us.
    We don’t have respect for animals neither humans anymore. Everywhere in The world Ive seen and heard OF ANIMAL ABUSE IS CATASTROPHIC . EVEN THE BUMPS on Ostrich leather shows abuse whilst alive so it Looks good When YOU wear it!! THIS STILL HAPPENS!! Not only eastern countries noooo all over!

    Disgusting. I thought in The Netherlands and Belgium that laws have been changed but I watched in horror as The bacon you eat was just obtained from animals whos Legs and head were so badly kicked and beaten in just before slaughtering I vomitted.
    The blood and brains lay on The Floor just before it was prepared for you!!! This was recent in April 2017. People were schocked here as The same great meat company brought their breakfast daily!! Atrocious.
    SO INSTEAD OF SOLUTIONS and ALTERNATES YOU PRAISING ANIMAL LEATHER AND DEGRADING VEGAN LEATHER!
    Wakeup please! So you telling us you happy with tortured ANIMAL food, beauty products and fashion!!

    My journey is now all about CrueltyFree and organic thats Why I look 20 but Im reaching 50 within a Few months! I am The New Generation Beauty & Fashion. No ANIMAL needs to suffer for Our fashion, beauty and Lifestyle.

    Please reply to this!

    Thank you. Jennifer kisten

    • Reply
      John
      Sep 12, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Next time you eat an edamame salad, think about the virgin habitats destroyed to make way for the soybean fields. Same for palms, tropical fruit, cotton fields and many more. Think about how many animals and plants were killed. And since many people eat conventional soy/wheat etc, consider the impact of pesticides, destruction of ancient soils and more.

      You’ve chosen a life style with commendable intentions. Don’t be ignorant or wantonly blind to the negative impact of any way of modern life.

  • Reply
    V
    Jul 28, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Quite frankly, this article is abhorrent! I agree that the production is terrible for the environment, but essentially, this vegan leather is plastic. Plastic is harmful for the environment, but it doesn’t appear to be vanishing any time soon. This article comes across as completely disregarding the animals involved in the leather industry. Perhaps you should watch videos and documentaries about the production process before you preach about how leather and faux leather are on the same level. We are talking about animal lives here. Living, sentient beings. It is an absolute joke to imply that it is acceptable to skin animals and use them for vanity and fashion. Appalling.

  • Reply
    John
    Sep 12, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Why on Earth buy a material that mimics one from an industry you find so abhorrent. Would you wear a “vegan” mink stole complete with head and feet?

    Wear something that doesn’t look like leather. Make a statement and wear something with a novel design.

    If I saw you walking down the street with a “vegan leather” purse or shoes, I would immediately assume that it was real leather and that you condone the very practices you are disgusted by.

  • Reply
    VEG
    Nov 27, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Being animal-friendly does not necessarily mean you are being eco-friendly. Using old and recycled leather could be better for the environment than buying a brand spankin’ new vegan-friendly bag. It just depends on where your priorities lie and what you are comfortable with!

  • Reply
    Michele
    Nov 28, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Wow, Eluxe, you really missed the mark on this one.

    Your future handbag will be made from fruit-not cow or petroleum.

    There are so many alternatives to skinning animals or pvc leather ….. All you have to do is google the web, the alternatives are many! Your article is clearly biased, sadly. Here are a few leather alternatives which I gleaned from Mochni, …but there are so many many more trending innovations and initiatives in exploring plant and eco friendly leather alternatives.
    1. PIÑATEX™

    You like to eat pineapples? Well, now you can walk on them. How cool is that? This alternative to leather called Piñatex™ is made from the leaves of the pineapple plant. Although this already sounds very eco, the used leaves are a waste product from the harvesting of the fruit, making it even more sustainable. Moreover, since it is a waste product, there is no need to create new materials and thus it has very low impact on the environment. Besides, the product which was once just waste for pineapple farmers, is now also a source of income. Overall, Piñatex™ is ethical and sustainable!

    2. PAPER

    It seems strange, but paper can be as strong as leather. Furthermore, it is biodegradable. What’s not to like? Paper itself isn’t that sustainable of course, because trees need to be cut for it. However, recycled and upcycled paper is an eco-friendlier alternative to animal-leather. Paper-leather is water resistant and can easily be cleaned. We love it!

    3. CORK

    Cork is a well-known alternative to leather and besides that it’s ethical, it’s also very eco. Cork is made from bark from the cork tree. Don’t worry, the bark is harvested form the oak tree without harming it. This makes it a very natural alternative to real leather. More positive news: cork is also a very durable material, since it has similar characteristics to animal-leather. It is often used for bags, but also for shoes and even for belts.

    4. RECYCLED RUBBER

    Upcycling already existing materials is always a better idea than creating new ones. A common used material for recycling and upcycling is rubber, especially tires from cars or bikes. The material is very strong and therefore very durable and sustainable. Further, it gives a look which can be compared to the thick leather. Since some rubber can be biodegradable and some can’t, it’s better to make the best out of it and create new items of it.

    5. MUSKIN

    How cool is this? MUSKIN has the looks of real leather, but is actually made from mushrooms. Specifcally, it is made from a parasitic fungus that grows in the subtropical forests called the Phellinus ellipsoideus. But let’s just keep it at MuSkin. The 100% vegetable eco-alternative to leather contains no toxic substances. It has a soft touch and suede look and can be made waterproof by treating it with eco wax.

    6. FRUITLEATHER

    Last, but not least: FRUITLEATHER. An initiative of two graduated designers base in Rotterdam, who create a leather alternative in the form of fruit waste. Two times a week they collect all the fruit waste of the market in Rotterdam and with a difficult technique they create strong and durable leather-like material from it. It is still in development and the two designers want to enhance the tear and water resistance of the fruit leather and the process ability. However, this initiative seems very promising. We’re surely looking forward to walking on fruit!

    • Reply
      Chere
      Nov 29, 2017 at 6:27 am

      Thanks for this – but we actually found TWELVE alternatives to plastic vegan leathers here https://eluxemagazine.com/fashion/5-truly-eco-friendly-vegan-leathers/. Whilst these options doubtlessly should be the logical choice for replacing ALL cow and plastic ‘leathers’, the sad fact remains that most ‘vegan leathers’ are still made of out PU, plastic, or worse, PVC. xx

  • Reply
    Suzanne Bramlett
    Nov 30, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Take all the Leather that’s already out there and recycle it into Beautiful clothing. No more killing animals. I Believe we will Rise up and away from such Vanity’s. Vanity and Happiness are incompatible.

  • Reply
    aallegre
    Jan 23, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Completely missing the point that “leather” (fka ‘skin’) requires the actual murder of a living creature, and as living creatures are members of the eco-system, this is decidedly not ‘eco-friendly.’ Should we use a toxic substitute? No. We should produce better material that is as appealing as we have come to believe the flayed skin of animals is. This article seriously overlooks the reality of what leather is and acts as though it is merely ‘sourced’ from a field or other inanimate harvest supply. Animals raised for consumption do not lead happy lives–they suffer greatly, and the sterilization of their short, brutal experience is a key element of our inability to get to truly humane, eco-friendly methods of clothing and food production. Spend some time in the places where your leather comes from, especially cheap, Chinese leather and fur that is often sourced from dogs–family dogs, German Shepherds, Golden retrievers, etc–and then compare the viability of real leather to synthetic alternatives.

  • Reply
    Grow Your Own Vegan Handbag! The Marvel of Mushroom Leather - Eluxe Magazine
    Sep 8, 2018 at 1:11 am

    […] which is good news for those of us who have suffered stinky, sweaty feet after wearing vegan shoes made from synthetic textiles. Although mushroom leather isn’t  waterproof by nature, this can be solved with a cheap […]

  • Reply
    Is Leather Ethical or Sustainable?
    Sep 10, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    […] I don’t suggest using it. As Jody McCutcheon mentions in her article, vegan leather “reeks, literally and figuratively, of petroleum.” She adds: “There is no such thing as ‘eco friendly’ PU.” As a […]

  • Reply
    Quoi?? Why The French Want to Ban Vegan Leather - Eluxe Magazine
    Sep 21, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    […] protecting the word ‘leather’ as a designation. The goal is to mute the growing popularity of vegan leathers, including ‘pineapple leather’ and ‘mushroom […]

  • Reply
    6 Signs Vegan Fashion Is Taking Over The World - Eluxe Magazine
    Sep 28, 2018 at 11:30 am

    […] ‘leathers’ have come a long, long way from the highly toxic ‘pleather’ or ‘leatherette’ of yesteryear! Today, cork, pineapples, wood and even mushrooms are amongst the many natural […]

  • Reply
    12 Of The Best Vegan Sneaker Brands That Look Great With Anything - Eluxe Magazine
    Oct 30, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    […] like glue, or can use materials that were tested on animals. Moverover, many of these shoes are far from eco-friendly in any way. According to PETA, when shopping for vegan shoes, you should be aware of the […]

  • Reply
    Red Flag! How To Find Non-Toxic, Vegan Red Lipsticks - Eluxe Magazine
    Oct 30, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    […] impacts on animal welfare, your health and the planet – but be careful! As is the case with vegan fashion, many people equate ‘vegan lipstick’ with ‘non-toxic’ or […]

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