What is Vegan Leather Made of?

Vegan leather bag
Vegan leather bag

Have you ever wondered, “What is vegan leather made of?” You’re not alone. Many people, both vegans and non-vegans, have found themselves asking the same question. 

A vegan lifestyle can be challenging. Especially when you realize just how many things contain animal products.  But, the world of veganism is rapidly changing and advancing. This opens new doors for many people to consider vegan options. Vegan leather is one of the many plant-based products that’s causing ripples in every industry.

The vegan lifestyle is more than just diet.
Veganism is a lifestyle

Interested in learning more about veganism? A good place to start is: What is Veganism?

So, what is vegan leather exactly?

From handbags to shoes, to jackets and sofas – leather is in every industry. But, as we all know, leather is an animal product. And one that most vegans really try hard to avoid. 

Vegans don’t buy or use any animal products. This includes leather. As a result, shopping for clothing (shoes, for example), furniture, bags, and wallets can often be a daunting task. Most vegans feel a lack of options when it comes to these types of goods. 

Vegan leather is a cruelty-free option that does not contain any animal products. It’s rapidly changing the face of the fashion industry with several collections of vegan leather bags, vegan leather boots, and so much more.

But, you may be wondering, what is it actually made from and how sustainable is it? Keep reading to discover some of the vegan-friendly leather alternatives that are available today.

We’ll also give you the brands you should look at if you want to boycott old-school leather in favor of sustainable choices!

After all, the best fashion is compassion.

Synthetic leather alternatives are highly toxic for our planet

The most common type of leather alternative is the so-called “pleather.” This is a synthetic material that’s mostly plastic-based. It’s been widely used in the retail industry for years and is available in stores anywhere. 

This type of faux leather is incredibly cheap to produce. It’s a convenient and accessible choice for those of us that prefer not to purchase leather products. You will find it heavily featured on ASOS, Urban Outfitters, and Zara, among others. 

Pleather bags on sale
We probably all have synthetic leather products in our closets

Chances are, you already have an extensive collection of fake leather in your closet! But, we wouldn’t call it “vegan-friendly” just yet.

There’s a catch: As a plastic-based material, pleather is far from being an eco-friendly option. The two main chemicals used to create the plastic coating of this popular vegan leather, PVC and PU, have been considered dangerous for the environment – especially PVC. 

However, the good news is that research is well underway to make plastic-based leather a more eco-friendly and safe option for all. 

Plant-based leather for the eco-conscious vegan

If you’d rather opt for more environmentally-friendly vegan leather products, you’ll be glad to know there are many more options available to you. Research is ongoing and as the demand increases, so will our options of truly vegan-friendly leathers. Here are a few of our favorites:

Cork-based leather

The humble cork makes for an amazingly versatile leather alternative with great eco-friendly perks. In fact, it’s biodegradable and recyclable! 

Cork leather is made from the bark of a cork tree. It’s a long process because the tree has to be at least 25 years old and, only the bark of the second harvest is good enough to make leather. Interestingly, it takes the cork tree 9 years to re-grow its bark. 

However, harvesting the tree is actually helps the tree and makes it live longer. Also, during the time that the tree regrows its bark, it absorbs more carbon dioxide. So harvesting cork is good for the tree and the planet!

Cork leather is highly eco-friendly, it’s a natural product that does not harm any creature, and it’s unique. 

We recommend the following brands:

  • Blackwood – creates durable vegan leather wallets.
  • Corkor – makes vegan leather bags and belts.
  • Birkenstock – a vegan-friendly collection of vegan leather sandals. 

Pineapple leaves leather

This is a breathable, durable, eco-friendly vegan leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fabric. Pineapple leaves are extremely fibrous and make a durable leather alternative. It’s also completely natural and sustainable. Plus, it’s a cruelty-free material and process. 

These brands are leading the way:

  • Bourgeois Boheme – cruelty-free shoes that are fashionable and comfortable.
  • Maniwala – vegan leather bags and accessories that will stand the test of time. 
  • Hugo Boss – surprisingly, even Hugo Boss is on the pineapple trend. 
Pineapples with pineapple leaves
Vegan leather is made from pineapple leaves

Mushroom leather

Yes, you read that right – this is a fabric made out of mushrooms! It’s called Muskin and it’s an environmentally-friendly leather alternative. 

Invented by the company Zero Grado Espace, this plant-based vegan leather is bound to take over the world very soon. It’s made from the cap of a giant mushroom that actually feeds on the bark of trees and causes them to rot and die. So, by harvesting this mushroom, subtropical trees are preserved which is good for our forests. 

It’s the most faithful reproduction of cow leather we have come across yet. Although it is still being tested, we should be seeing brands jumping on the mushroom bandwagon very soon.

New kid on the block – cactus leather

This new plant-based leather is taking the fashion industry by storm. 
Made in Mexico, it uses the humble cactus to make leather that rivals the luxury and feel of animal leather. So much so, that it competed with the best leather manufacturers in Milan, Italy. It’s also a sustainable crop and is eco-friendly. See, Mexico: Unique Vegan Leather Made From Cactus.

True vegan leather is planet-friendly

As you can see, the world of eco-friendly vegan leather is rapidly expanding. The demand for leather alternatives that are safe and environmentally friendly will only grow in the future. 

Next time you are considering investing in a new handbag or a pair of shoes, have a look at the new eco-friendly vegan leather options available. You’ll look great and feel good knowing that you have taken one more step in making our planet and world a better place.