What Is Vegan Leather?

Vegan leather sustainable fashion options

What Is Vegan Leather?

Leather is by far one of the most stylish and comfortable fashion statements on the market, but for some people, it crosses a moral line. No matter how sleek and comfortable it may be, one may not be able to ignore it’s animal origins. There is also the possibility of using ‘sustainable’ or ‘ethical’ leather – but the jury is out on that too.

Well, here’s the good news: there are now vegan leather alternatives – cruelty free and animal friendly!

Ingredients of Vegan Leather

That’s right! It may seem difficult to believe, but in recent years, companies and big corporate names have lent a serious ear to the complaints of animal lovers and have come out with a leather alternative that’s not only stylish, but that requires no harm to animals in its generation and creation.

There are many materials that go into making leather “vegan.” Some of the most popular are listed below:

  • Vegetan: Microfiber designed to be used as an animal-friendly substitute
  • Lorica: Made of out many different microfibers – the Italian motorcycle company Sidi uses this quite often
  • Birko-Flor: Used by eco-con Birkenstock, this material is made out of acrylic and polyamide fibers. You find this on Birks and in products that look like “pleather”
  • PVC: One of the most popular alternatives – good for animals, but not good for the environment as derived from petrol
  • Kydex: Acrylic-PVC alloy that is produced by the manufacturing company Kleerdex.

Benefits and Downsides of Vegan Leather

Vegan leather offers a variety of benefits to shoppers, and some specific perks of this (paradoxically!) “animal-free” leather include the following:

  • Budget friendly
  • Vegan leather can now look almost as real as genuine leather with recent manufacturing improvements
  • No animal-derived ingredients

However, vegan leather does have a downside. Although it is ethical in terms of animals, it may not always be the safest for humans. In some cases, it is also no so “ethical” in terms of environmental safety. Some negative aspects of faux leather include:

  • Some vegan leather products are made from petroleum-derived materials, which can be harmful to human health due to chlorine (which pollutes our planet)
  • Can contain harmful additives like lead
  • Plastic is unable to be broken down or composted therefore contributes to landfill
  • May not have the same ‘natural’ or ‘hard’ wearing aspects of ‘real leather’

Go Vegan, but Choose Carefully

So what does all this mean? Is vegan leather no good, either? Not necessarily! When you’re choosing faux leather products, just make sure you select the ones that are made from a more earth friendly material that can be broken down eventually or are made from recycled ingredients originally.

This can include cotton canvas and even paper—yes, paper. Recycled cardboard can be treated with natural oils that give it a velvety texture and make it appear more like genuine leather.

Our 4 top vegan leathers with minimal environmental impact

  1. Pinatex made from pineapple leaves – in it’s infancy but will be amazing

Pineapple leather bag prototypes created by SmithMatthias (not yet available to purchase but hopefully will be in the future)!

How lush does this look?

Vegan leather sustainable fashion options

2. Dinamica – made by recycling plastic PET bottles & cuts carbon emissions by 60% – used by Beyond Skin shoes

We tried to get some of these in store at Socielle but they don’t wholesale – BUT you can definitely by them direct! How divine are those shoes???

Beyond skin vegan leather

Image via Beyondskin.co.uk


3. Paper leather – yes and you can get it wet- this stuff is amazing! 

Check out UASHMAMA who use a washable paper is made using a virgin fibre through cultivation and not deforestation and make handbags, decor and more all exotically made in Tuscany, Italy! 

This is only the beginning, we’re also loving their stylish metallic range!


Uashmama vegan paper leather

photo: UASHMAMA paper products Photograpahy John Fotiadis, Styling Casey Languillon Objet Trouve.

4. Cork leather – made from cork which has been highlighted as a sustainable easy to replenish material that breaks up and decomposes when thrown away! 

We love Cork Leather a brand dedicated to selling bags/jewellery/accessories all made sustainably from cork!

Cork leather vegan bags


So as you can see there are definitely vegan and enviro friendly options available, you just need to read your ingredients list a little closer or ask the brand via their socials what it is made from and where!

And if you have any other suggestions and brands doing this well do let us know!!

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