Vegan Leather: All You Need To Know About Vegan Leather

Veganism has become a buzz . People are turning vegan with the passage of time. Many celebrities who were big time meat eaters have adopted veganism and minimal lifestyle.

The veganism trend is quite popular in western countries and gradually  coming to other countries. There’s no stopping it is expected to grow in the coming years.

We agree, it is  not possible to turn vegan in a day. However, with little bit of willpower and time one can make it.

Turning vegan has become more feasible these days thanks to the accessibility of vegan food products.  

Veganism is not restricted to just food but it also includes accessories , fashion, beauty products and more. Let’s talk about the leather industry. 

Do you know animals are slaughtered and their skin is removed and processed with chemicals and tannins to make it more viable.

animals

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As per the article by Lucy Siegle, journalist and writer on environmental issues,"290 million cows are killed per year to cover our current necessities and this numbers could duplicate in the next decade"

But in vegan leather processing, no animal is being harmed .Moreover, instead of animal skin , plastics and natural material such as cork are used.

Now, you might be thinking what vegan leather is and how sustainable it is?

Here in this blog, you will get to know all about vegan leather that will clear the air about vegan leather.

What is Vegan Leather ?

It is a cruelty- free alternative to the leather that we have been using in our products. Well, it's not leather at all!

It's known as artificial leather, synthetic leather or faux leather. Vegan leather is usually made of polyvinyl chloride or polyurethane , which are plastic based materials. Fake leather is  termed as “Pleather” as it comes from plastic leather.

Yes, plastic is also a hazard for our environment but it's an ethical option for accessories like handbags, belts, wallets , shoes and clothes.

Moreover, vegan leather can be made from various greener alternatives like  pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels and other fruit waste.

Many designers have opted for vegan leather for their collections. Vegan leather is versatile as it can be used in creating jackets, skirts, pants and even that perfect black dress.

Stella McCartney has introduced vegan leather in her collections and gradually many designers are joining the vegan bandwagon.

Tesla , the luxury automaker has recently introduced vegan leather seats and hence joined BMW, Lexus, Ferrari and Mercedes Benz. 

Also Prada has stopped offering fur in their collection and joined Gucci, Burberry and Coach.

As per Edited , in the UK, the demand for vegan products has risen 75% in 2018 to Jan 2019. Globally the synthetic leather market is expected to reach $45 billion by 2015 which is currently at $25 billion.

How is it made?

Synthetic leather or Faux leather :

Synthetic leather is produced in a different way than real leather.

Polyvinyl Chloride:

Polyvinyl Chloride

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PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)is used less because it releases doxins, which becomes dangerous in confined spaces and if burnt. The processing of PVC uses plasticizers that are equally harmful.PVC is made with approximately 57% chloride and 43% carbon.

Animal leather takes 50 years to decompose whereas PVC takes more than 500 years and then it breaks down into little micro-beads which get washed away in oceans.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane

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Another one is PU, which is less damaging plastic. But, it also releases toxins and is made of oil based polymers that it made with fossil fuels.

It is made by adding adhesive to polyester fabrics. PU is more blendy and soft hence utilises fewer layers. It looks more leather other than PVC.

PU is more used in the fashion industry and if you explore you will see lots of jackets , wallets, bags made of PU .

How vegan leather looks?

A good quality vegan leather is mostly similar to real leather. Vegan leather is synthetic so it doesn’t form a patina like real leather and is less breathable as the pores printed on pleather are artificial.

How is vegan leather better than real leather?

Why people are opting for vegan leather  it's because it’s cruelly-free and benefits the environment in numerous ways.

  • It is thinner and more lightweight than real leather. This makes it a good choice for the fashion industry.
  • Vegan leather causes less harm to the environment than cow leather.
  • It is lot cheaper 
  • As per the reports of cradle to gate environment study  cow leather was found most damaging of all the fibers against global warming, chemistry and water scarcity.
  • hazardous chemicals are involved in leather tanning and when dumped into the ocean causes water pollution.

Also, if you own a vegan leather bag and wondering how to maintain and soften it read along .

How to maintain vegan leather ?

It is made of plastic coating that is waterproof. This makes it easier to clean using a mild detergent and then wiping it with a damp cloth.

Can you soften vegan leather ?

Yes, you can soften vegan leather by using a vinyl conditioner . This should be applied with a soft cloth in  small circular motions.Access should be removed with a clean cloth and let it dry. You can repeat the process until you get the desired result.

Different types of Vegan Leather :

There are two types of vegan leather . One is synthetic leather and the other is plant-based leather.

Plant-based leather or Vegetal leather

Apple leather:

Apple leather

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Yes, you heard it right! It's leather made from apple residue. Copenhagen -based company, The Apple Girl, firstly started turning apples into leather. They treated pulp from the apple residue and rolled out into strips and heated it. Later on apple used to turn flexible and hard material that is 100% biodegradable.

Another Philadelphia-based company, Veggani, also uses ‘apple peel leather’ to make a lot of accessories. Apple peels are dried ,powdered  and mix with polyurethane before being processed into faux leather. 

Pineapple leather :

It is made from waste parts of the plant mainly from leaf fiber. It does require a coating of PU during processing.

Dr Carmen Hijosa is the woman who brought Pinatex to the market . She started working on this in the 1990s in the Philippines. Dr Hijosa noticed that the plant is creating a lot of waste. Moreover, its leaves were burned or piled up to rot naturally.

She thought that this waste can be used as a sustainable leather alternative.

Nowadays, Pinatex has become a secondary income of the Philippines farmers 

How is Pinatex made ?

First of all, stripping down of leaves which is known as decortication takes place.Then , fibers are converted into leather. Moreover, the biomass that is created can be used for fertilisation .

Have a look at these Pinatex products:

Have a look at these Pinatex products

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NAE Vegan, Bourgeois Boheme and even Hugo Boss are working on creating amazing things with Pinatex.

NAE Vegan

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H&M's came up with their latest Conscious collection by using Piñatex.Frumat leather made from apple peel won the Green Carpet Challenge awards in Milan in September.

At LA ENVIRO we curate vegan alternatives for luxury vegan watches and wallets. We use pinatex which gives the real leather appearance. Pinatex is a durable natural fiber crafted from pineapple leaves.

LA ENVIRO bag

LA ENVIRO watch

We firmly believe that animals deserve compassion and care like us. Our aim is to free animals from the leather industry. It’s not right to sabotage them for our needs and style. 

With a wide range of ethical choices available , you can add one without compromising on ethics and quality.

Cork leather

Cork leather is made from the bark of the cork oak trees. Yes cork can be made into vegan leather to create wallets ,bags, shoes, luggage umbrellas and upholstery. 

Cork leather

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How is it made ?

  • Extractors chip the bark of the oak tree and form cork sheets.
  • These sheets are dried from their natural fluid and dampness and taken for further processing
  • The cork sheets are boiled and this breaks the structure and it becomes more shapeable.
  • Then they are dried out and shaved into thin sheets .
  • After this , thin cork sheets are laminated to fabric using sealants and other techniques 
  • To make it durable fabric protection spray is applied.

Cork leather is elastic and lightweight. It is also hypoallergenic , antifungal and waterproof. No toxic chemicals are used in the processing of cork leather. It lasts for about 20 years and to an extent is fire and flame resistant.

Wine leather :

Also known as grape leather. It is made from the waste collected during wine production.

Vegea the Italian tech startup has been processing the core and shell of grapes .And to make it soft and supple they are adding chemicals and compounds.

According to Vegea10 litres of wine produces 2.5 kgs of waste (marc), which then produces 1 square meter of wine leather. So  2.5 billion square meters of wine leather can be produced each year. 

Hell, that is a lot of Vegan leather!

The company is doing extensive research before introducing their vegan leather to the market. It is currently working with H&M to pilot some products. If everything goes well, soon they will hit the market with their vegan leather which will be a threat to the leather industry.

Mushroom leather :

Mushroom leather

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Yes, you heard it correct. It is also known as MuSkin made from the roots of the mushroom plants. The roots known as mycelium can be used to make the most durable vegan leather.

The roots are called mycelium, and some brilliant folks have found a way to feed and grow the mycelium cells into what is possibly the most durable vegan leather on the market.

Features:

  • It is durable and waterproof.
  • Safest material to be placed on human bodies . 
  • It's 100% biodegradable.

Products like shoes, watch straps, wallets, bags can be made with mushroom leather.

Bolt Threads in 2018, started  using lab-grown mycelium for their products.

(Source-https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/vegan-leather-sustainability-debate-2019)

Other natural vegan leather :

Paper:

Paper leather is also known as washable leather.It can be used for home decor to handbags. It is delicate but strong.

Waxed cotton :

Cotton is waxed by using paraffin wax. It looks just like leather and it has made a reappearance in vegan fashion lately.

Mirum :

It is made from 100% natural products such as waste coconut oil and vegetable oil and then combining it with waste cork and hemp. Also )% plastics is involved in the processing.

Malai:

Indian based startup uses leftover coconut water to create vegan leather. This not only utilises the waste material but also creates a durable material that lasts longer. This is completely biodegradable.

SCOBY:

Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. It's simply a mushy blob of bacteria when dried it turns into leather like material.

Recycled rubber:

In this many rubber products can be used such as car tires, rubber tubes.It can be used to make that perfect vegan bag and accessories.

Ligneah :

It is produced by Ligneah brand and is a new material in vegan leather. Woods are subjected to micro lasers incisions to create a flexible design and then paired with cotton. Various fashion items and home designs can be created with Ligneah.

List is endless but still a lot of research and work is needed to make vegan leather more durable and sustainable. Trials and testing is going and soon we will be able to see better vegan leather options in the market. Surely, these will turn to be a threat to the traditional leather industry.

Now as you have got a clear idea of vegan leather go for natural alternatives like Pinatec , Cork or mushroom leather . They are eco -friendly unlike PVC and PU alternatives and won’t harm the environment in any way.

Choose quality over quantity and invest in the ethical vegan leather. 

Trust us , you will feel great as the things you will be using daily are free from animal cruelty and are better for mother nature.