Oh boy! There it goes, the question we are all asking in our heads but not saying out loud.
Swapping your fast fashion polyester wardrobe for a wardrobe made of organic materials…that’s a no brainer for many to easily justify. However, swapping your luxury lamb skin leather handbag for something made of a mythical “vegan leather” material, it’s understandable that you may pause before making the swap from genuine leather to vegan leather fashion.
Here are some details to consider as you make the swap from leather to vegan leather fashion brands
1. Not all faux leather is “pleather”.
To keep this brief and save you from the fashion history lesson let us all agree that originally faux leather was an entirely plastic PVC material commonly referred to as pleather. Since then, materials have advanced to include PU. This new faux leather is a material created by using a plastic based coating around a blend of other non leather fabrics. So no, not all faux leather is made entirely of plastic. Depending on the values of the brand the material used to produce a faux leather product can be any number of non-leather materials.
2. Not all faux leather is vegan.
Vegan leather focuses on using no animal based materials in the production or finished product. Because transparency in the fashion industry is such a challenge, if are vegan you are most likely looking for a stamp of approval from organizations like PETA for your vegan products. What separates Vegan leather other faux leather products is how they are made. Some faux leather PU materials may use a plastic based coating around a blend of materials including wool to achieve the finished product. Vegan leather takes the extra step to ensure that no animal materials were used.
3. Vegan leather is values based and purpose driven.
The original goal for producing faux leather in the fashion industry was to lower cost and increase profits. Vegan leather has a focus on customer values as it relates to animal cruelty, ethical & humane production, and environmental impacts. Because of this shift in focus from profits to values, the additional costs to produce vegan leather products often exist in the production of the materials themselves. For example, in order to limit their impact on the environment, high end vegan leather brands invest in manufacturing that reduce water use including many other environmental areas of focus.
4. Not all Vegan Leather is environmentally friendly.
Faux leather is heavily dependent on oil to create the plastic used in an artificial leather product. There are some vegan leather brands that are taking their commitment to the environment to a much higher level by using bio materials to reduce or eliminate plastic use in their products entirely. For example, Matt & Nat recently introduced an entire line of apple leather products. In addition, some vegan leather brands are also taking steps to reduce their impact by using materials developed from recycled post consumer plastic materials.
Vegan leather products tend to be more expensive because they are made with the environment in mind. Often vegan brands use more expensive processes to develop and process their materials without sacrifice the quality of the finished product.
All vegan leather is not created equal so I am hopeful that you will evaluate and select wisely.
At Ecodessa we like to do the hard work for you by vetting and sourcing from the best brands in the sustainable fashion market including carrying high end vegan handbag brands like Melie Bianco and Matt & Nat.