When animal cruelty and animal protection have increasingly approached the discussion table, the introduction of vegan leather has become a new hope to the vegan community and anyone who abstain from animal-based leather. There are a few ways that this leather has been made that have gained the attraction of many vegans worldwide.
Vegan leather is typically produced from plant matter or polyurethane, which is a recyclable polymer. Also, some fascinating plant matter is used in processing this, which could challenge conventional leather productions. So, this feature covers everything about vegan leather, including its pros and cons, durability, and many more.
What Is Actually Vegan Leather?
Vegan leather is a type of leather that is manufactured by using polyurethane (a kind of polymer) and plant matter. This leather literally has nothing to do with animals or animal skin. It is also recognized in names such as:
- Artificial leather
- PU leather
- Faux leather
- Synthetic leather
- Imitation leather
Some leading fashion brands and well-reputed companies have started to hold their hands with this production. Vegan leather is actually introduced as a substitute for real leather that derives from animals’ skins. This leather is used in goods like footwear, bags, clothing, seat covers, or anything that requires a leather-like finishing. However, they look so similar to real leather in appearance and are often made in a variety of colors.
What Is Vegan Leather Made Out Of?
Generally, vegan leather is made out of three primary elements. They are:
- Polyurethane (PU)- This is a plastic material (plastic polymers) that exists in many forms and is recyclable.
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – PVC is another polymer that comes in rigid and flexible forms. However, PVC is difficult to recycle.
- Natural plant resources- Plant matter like fruit peels, pineapple leaves, cork, other fruit waste.
The making of artificial leather is actually an innovative and controversial product in the world of fashion recently. In fact, people tend to experiment making faux leather using various different plant matter, and interestingly most of them have been successful. Vegan leather, which is produced from pineapple leaves, is called piñatex. And, the trash matter of pineapple is utilized to form a mesh-like leather material. Practically, no supplementary land, fertilizer, or water is needed for making this leather. It is merely a by-product of pineapple cultivation.
Moreover, this can also be produced from the roots of mushroom plants. The root is known as mycelium, which survives on bio substrates like cellulose. Thrillingly, mushroom leather is durable, waterproof, and is biodegradable leather. Faux leather can also be composed of kombucha tea and from the leaf of teak. In addition to these, there are many other options as well. According to our data, we discovered that a Mexican company produces vegan leather from cactus. And, a Dutch company has started making plant-based leather from mangoes which possibly could have been thrown away
Main Types Of Vegan Leather
- Pineapple Leather- Using pineapple leaf fibers that are a by-product of industrial pineapple cultivation, a new genetic leather material called Piñatex was created. Pinatex is known for its sustainability and pleasing appearance.
- Cactus Leather- Natural vegan leather has been produced from the nopal cactus (Opuntia). In fact, Cacti demand a little amount of water than many plants used to make materials. Therefore, plantations can remain about eight years because mature leaves are cut from the cacti without harming the plant. So, cactus leather could be confirmed to be a very sustainable alternative.
- Mushroom Leather- Various mushroom or fungus-based natural vegan leathers are being manufactured at present. Most of them are way more sustainable and ethical than conventional leather, including the aforementioned Mylo (produced from mycelium cells) to Muskin (obtained from the caps of Phellinus ellipsoideus fungi).
- PU Leather- Aka polyurethane leather, is primarily artificial leather, which is a thermoplastic polymer. It has a similar look and sense to animal leather and is way easier to clean. However, PU leather tends to crack, and some people think it seems affordable.
- Cork Leather- Cork is a natural, sustainable vegan leather material with multiple possible uses, including a leather-like material. The bark can grow again and be repeatedly cut since it can be done by separating the exterior layer of bark from a cork oak tree without wanting to cut the tree down.
- PVC- Manufactured from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), this artificial leather is related to PU leather. But, it is even less eco-friendly; therefore, it will not sit better with the philosophy of vegans.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Vegan Leather?
The vegan community might be thrilled to know that they, too, have the opportunity to enjoy the luxury of leather goods without exploiting animals. However, just like everything else, it is important to know the advantages and also the downsides of using them. So, let’s have a glance at the pros and cons of using faux leather.
#01- Vegan leather is free of animal cruelty.
In obvious terms, one significant manufacturing intention of artificial leather is to reduce the amount of animal cruelty and empower animal protection. Since there are no animals exploited from the start to end process of making this leather, animals are benefited infinitely.
#02- Less water requirements.
Animal leather needs a lot of water. In fact, immense amounts of water are required in order to keep the cattle and other animals alive in the first place. Moreover, when considering the water utilized in the skin preparation, tanning and termination means of animal leather production, the entire water track of animal leather is unbelievable.
#03- Vegan leather making needs less possibly toxic chemicals.
The tanning method of animal leather often uses poisonous chemicals, like chromium, pentachlorophenol, and different toxic solutions. In contrast, the discharge of conceivably toxic hydrogen sulfide can happen from the deliming process of animal leather.
#04- Very low in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.
Generally, the carbon track of animal farming and cattle farming is well observed. And these typically produce a part of the amount of carbon dioxide than animal leather does. However, the amount of greenhouse gas radiation fluctuates between vegan leathers. Natural leathers like pineapple leather or mushroom leather create less gas compared to PU leather.
#05- Natural vegan leather is especially non- contaminating.
Animal leather contributes massively to environmental pollution. In that case, natural vegan leather causes significantly less contamination compared to animal leather production.
#06- It is way affordable, sustainable, and versatile.
In contrast with animal leather, vegan leather is inexpensive due to the materials used when processing. Besides, you can get faux leather in a variety of colors that are not reachable with animal leather. In addition, this is an excellent alternative when it comes to sustainability.
#07- Easy cleaning and water-resistant.
Vegan leather goods are usually more hassle-free to clean. They do not leave cleanser stains or cause discoloration as it could happen on animal leather. In fact, someone could even use any powerful, harsh chemicals on artificial leather. Plus, artificial leather goods are waterproof for as long as the topcoat exists.
#01- Synthetic leather can not be very favorable to the ecosystem.
PU and PVC leathers are polymers, and PVC could hardly be recycled. Therefore, when they are disposed of in the environment, they break into tiny particles of plastic and could be incorporated with soil. This way, PU and PVC plastics do not seem eco-friendly. Thus, since they are not eco-friendly and indirectly affect animals, synthetic leather could not be the perfect choice for vegans.
#02- Synthetic Leather is not breathable.
Unlike regular leather, artificial leather has the disadvantage of breathability. Although leading fashion brands produce clothing and footwear from leathers like PU or PVC, they can be sweaty when worn for some time.
#03- Longevity issues.
It is much more affordable than animal leather, but they lose points in competition with durability. Vegan leather goods tend to tear and break faster than goods made of animal leather.
How Long Does Vegan Leather Last?
Apparently, artificial leather does not have a longer life than animal leather normally would do. Long story short, artificial leather is not as long-lasting as genuine leather. The opaque leather material, particularly full-grain and top-grain leather, is more robust and more flexible than the fabrics used in vegan leather. Hence, even with the proper topcoats of them, animal leather is more durable. However, according to the social data we gathered, it is shown that artificial leathers like PU and PVC leathers could have a lifespan from two to six years.
So, leather enthusiasts, this is all about vegan leather. As you read, this is innovative and animal cruelty-free, yet some artificial leathers could negatively impact the ecosystem. Picking the right one for you is your sole preference, and we hope we did our part by educating you with all the relevant and accurate information on vegan leather.