There’s no denying that leather occupies an exceptional place in fashion. So a nice-looking pair of vegan leather pants or a functional bag is a must for anyone looking to make their closet cruelty-free and more sustainable. This way, you can be confident in what you decide to wear and guilt-free about your purchase.
Vegan Leather Fabric
Vegan leather fabrics are essentially imitation leather. The benefit of choosing vegan leather is that it’s less costly to manufacture, which means its retail value is usually lower. On top of that, faux leathers do not contain animal products or products tested on animals. The ethical concerns surrounding fast fashion have caused brands like Burberry, Gucci, Versace, and Prada to ban fur in recent years.
The Truth About Vegan Leather
Vegan leather should not necessarily be thought of as an eco-friendly alternative to real leather. Most vegan and faux leathers are made of plastics containing synthetic polymers, which are derived from nonrenewable petrochemicals, i.e. crude oil and natural gases. At each phase of plastic’s lifecycle, from fossil fuel extraction and refining to manufacturing and use, and even end-of-life (incineration, recycling) greenhouse gases are generated because of these petrochemical ingredients. According to a study titled “Microfiber Release from Different Fabrics During Washing“, leathers made of synthetic plastics shed pollutants during wash and dry cycles. When plastic fabrics are exposed to physical stress, they release microfibers and greenhouse gases into the air and water.
The good news is that not all vegan leathers are made equal. Plant-based leathers are more environmentally friendly than conventional plastic leathers, and they’re vegan! Plant-based leather is made from repurposed plant material and agricultural wastes. If you’re interested in sustainable vegan leather, then make sure the fabric that you buy is manufactured from organic, renewable sources rather than synthetic plastics.
What Is Vegan Leather Made Of?
Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride. Polyurethane, sometimes abbreviated as PU, is a type of organic polymer composed of urethane (rubber) links. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), another popular synthetic plastic polymer, is made of polymerized vinyl chloride. Both PVC and PU leather are made to mimic the look and feel of real animal skin, but their properties are quite different. Authentic leather is thicker and heavier than faux leather and authentic leather is less prone to peeling and cracking over time, as it absorbs more moisture than faux leathers do.
Vegan Leather for Sale
If you’re interested in vegan leather products, consider shopping at Nordstrom, Target, Free People, or Urban Outfitters. When buying your faux leather, be sure to read the product label to find out what materials it’s made from. Finding a vegan product is not the same as finding a plant-based one. Vegan fabrics will not necessarily contain any animal-derived materials but may contain synthetic plastics, which can contribute to the build-up of pollutants in air and waterways. For more sustainable fashion, be sure that your purchases are made from renewable sources such as food waste, various crops, vegetable extracts, and or wood.