Vegan Leather 101: All You Need to Know About Vegan Leather
If you have been on the path of making a conscious effort to help the environment by choosing vegan leather, well read the fine print about your vegan leather choice. Not all vegan leather is safe for the environment. I know right!?
At first glance, you can be easily swayed to buy any type of vegan leather product because they are "vegan leather" so to speak. They are cruelty-free. No animal was slaughtered for you to enjoy a stylish handbag or a designer belt. But if you read the fine print, you will know for a fact that not all vegan leather products are eco-friendly. Some vegan leathers are even harmful to the environment.
Yes! They are basically cruelty-free, but I suggest you go the extra mile and do your due diligence. Make that conscious effort in choosing not just cruelty-free vegan products but also environment friendly vegan products. So, how would you know which ones to choose?
Vegan Leather 101: What is vegan leather?
Vegan leather is "leather" that comes from non-animal sources. It can also be called faux leather. Another name is 'pleather' which comes from plastic and leather. The most common and available vegan leather in the market is plastic or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU). Other vegan leathers come from natural resources such as cotton, cactus, apple peelings, fruit waste, tree bark, or leaves.
There are practically only two types of vegan leather: Plastic and natural.
Let's take a look at Top 10 Sources of Vegan Leather:
- PVC (basically plastic) - PVC leather is the cheapest vegan leather. It is one of the most common and most popularly used faux leather by manufacturers. PVC (or Polyvinyl Chloride) is made out of fabric leather backing, with the same flexibility properties. It can be used in a wide variety of products such as book covers, steering wheel covers, furniture, wallets, and the like.
Products of PVC leather are found almost everywhere online and can be bought as low as $10 for a key case on Amazon.
- Polyurethane - it is a bit better than PVC but still comes from crude which is a finite resource. The Polyurethane coating gives the final product a natural like leather feel and flexibility. It can also be known as vinyl leather. Since it is artificially made, the product itself is not entirely sustainable.
Gunas New York has quite several collections of PU vegan shoes. The price starts at $80 a pair.
- Cork Leather - Cork is a natural material used for wine bottles, bulletin boards, and glass coasters. Because of advancements in technology. It can also be a natural resource for vegan leather. The process involves boiling the cork and flattening it by molding it into sheets. It is one of the most durable and environmentally-friendly vegan leather available in the market.
Here are some cork leather bags from GNLAccessories.The price starts at $75.
- Teak Leaf Leather - Teak Leaf "Leather" is a layered material made from sustainably harvested Teak leaves. They have been mended with fabric and sealed to preserve the natural leaf design. Every piece is unique.
Here are some products which are made of teak leaf. Wallets are priced as low as $22.
- Pinatex (Pineapple Leather) - This type of vegan leather is from pineapples. That is right! Pineapples! It is created by felting the fibers of the pineapple leaves together in a non-woven mesh that gives that leather-like appearance. Pinatex vegan leather comes from the waste of pineapple harvest.
Here is a wide variety of products made of pinatex leather from Ananas-anam. Price starts at $189.
- Mushroom Skin - It was in 2013 that Danish product designer Jonas Edvard developed organic mushroom textile using mushroom spores and plant fibers. The material was called MYX, from mycelium and it was created using the waste material from commercial oyster mushroom production. After harvesting the mushrooms, Edvard discovered that the remaining material could be shaped and dried out.
Here's a handbag made of mushroom leather for $400.
- Cactus Leather - Desserto cactus leather is one of the newest eco-friendly vegan leathers in the market. Desserto's cactus leather is organic, partially biodegradable, soft, durable, and high enough quality that it can be used to make clothing, accessories, furniture, and even car interiors.
Here's a cactus leather jacket from James&Co.priced at $299.
- Coconut Leather - Malai is the brainchild of Zuzana Gombosova and Susmith Suseelan. Gombsova moved from Slovakia to Mumbai for work where she met Suseelan. Moreover, she was particularly interested in growing and producing bacterial cellulose using coconut water. To cut the story short, they produce vegan leather out of coconut waste.
Men's coconut leather shoes are available at Etsy starting at $130.00
- Fruit Leather - nl is transforming fruit leftovers into durable leather-like materials. Fruit wastes from apples, oranges, mangoes, and other fruits are developed into a new product. They have a sample box of fruit leather sheets priced at $50. Other sheets with patterns like turtle, rodeo, seal, jungle back are priced at around $72.
Luxtra London's Maya Tote is made from apple skin and is priced at $163.
- Wine Leather - Grape wine process waste is made into wine leather. Mercer Amsterdam, a footwear giant is scheduled to launch sneakers made from wine waste. The company will release its new line of sneakers this Spring Summer '21. Mercer Amsterdam is a high-end sneaker company founded by Pim Dresen, a Dutch designer.
Wine leather shoes from Mercer Amsterdam are priced at $300 a pair.
Benefits of Choosing the Natural Vegan Leather Option
- It is cruelty-free - No animal harmed in the process of creating vegan leather.
- It is durable - Vegan leather should last a lifetime with proper use and care. A Teak wallet is as durable as any other leather wallet available in the market.
- It is environment-friendly - vegan leather from natural resources is an environmentally friendly product.
- It is stylish - by its very nature, vegan leather is thinner than real animal leather that makes it more flexible to use in fashion. There are different natural patterns, meshes, and weavings that are beautiful on a finished product such as belts and bags.
- It is a healthy option - no hard chemicals used during the manufacturing of these plant-based alternatives. You will not inhale any toxic material from the products.
So, if you are moving towards purchasing products that are sustainable like vegan leather such as bags, shoes, accessories, and more; choose the better option. Go natural. Choose vegan wallets made from mushrooms or teak leaves. Choose vegan shoes that are made from fruit leather or cactus leather. Your options are boundless. It is easier to shop vegan nowadays.