First things first: you don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy vegan leather. What’s more is you don’t have to be a vegan to prefer vegan leather over traditional leather.
Regardless of your eating habits, vegan leather has several significant advantages over traditional leather. However, the difference in quality depends on the type of vegan leather.
Let’s talk about vegan leather versus traditional leather and why so many people are switching to cruelty-free fashion.
Love being a vegan? Then you’ll love our line of vegan wallets! Make sure to check them out before you go!
Vegan Leather vs. ‘Real’ Leather
As plant passionate animal lovers, the choice between vegan leather and ‘real’ leather is easy for us. But the choice isn’t so simple for the majority of people.
Since most people grew up with traditional leather readily available, it’s easy to overlook the plant-based leather alternatives – even if they’re the better choice.
The fact of the matter is that if you’re not living a plant-based lifestyle, you might have some misconceptions about vegan leather. Plant-based alternative leathers are growing increasingly popular as people discover just how incredible the material is.
Some people believe vegan leather is weak or fragile, or perhaps even aesthetically unappealing. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Vegan leather can be as strong – or stronger than – traditional leather. Ultimately, the strength of vegan leather depends on the manufacturing process and the quality of the material.
For instance, teak leaf and coffee bean leather are extremely durable, with each piece lasting for many years. Teak leaf leather is already sturdy. But for waterproofing purposes, it’s reinforced with an eco-friendly biofilm that gives each piece waterproof capabilities and additional strength.
While some vegan leather might rip or tear, teak leaf and coffee bean leathers are tough. You can try as you might, but you’ll never rip the material used in crafting these sustainable plant-based products.
We believe that no one needs animal skin except the animal producing it. Thus, when it comes to traditional leather, we’re firm in the belief that plant-based leather alternatives are the best option.
How is Vegan Leather Made?
Is vegan leather safe? That depends on the material used to create it.
How vegan leather is made varies from leather to leather. In the case of vegan teak leaf leather, the craftsmen first gather teak leaves. This process does not harm the trees as they gather the leaves that have already fallen.
Once the leaves have been gathered, they’re colored and sealed using a non-toxic biofilm. This is how we perfectly preserve Mother Nature’s designs.
The special biofilm treatment ensures the leaf leather is strong and sturdy. This makes it waterproof and tear-resistant.
Synthetic leather production is different. This process involves chemicals and bonding plastic coating to fabric backing.
One of the most popular vegan leathers in fashion is made from polyurethane. This is a polymer that can be used to create just about anything a designer can think of.
However, while PU leather is cruelty-free, it’s not necessarily eco-friendly. This is why plant-based leather material is best to create fabulous vegan leather products.
What Does Vegan Leather Smell Like?
Faux leather doesn’t always smell strange. Vegan teak leaf and coffee bean leathers smell like high-quality fashion. The scent is the equivalent of what you’d expect from a luxury vegan brand.
On the other hand, there are types of vegan leather that, for lack of a better word, stink. The offensive odor is usually associated with PVC or PU.
Most commonly, PVC or PU leather offers an offensive, chemical odor. Some people even describe the scent as ‘fishy’ and nearly impossible to remove. PVC, in particular, can produce dangerous toxins that create this smell.
Long story short, if you’re not using faux leather derived from plant material, you might have to deal with some offensive odors in your closet.
Traditional leather uses animal skin to create products. While this is something that’s been done globally for quite some time, the practice is actually quite barbaric – and unnecessary.
Even though traditional leather is a byproduct of the meat industry, that doesn’t negate the fact that it uses a dead being’s skin as a manufacturing material. The pain and suffering of the animal are forever ingrained in the leather material, as well.
More than a billion animals – cows, pigs, goats, alligators, crocodiles, ostriches, kangaroos, rabbits, cats, and dogs – are slaughtered for their skins annually. These animals aren’t even provided painkillers as many are skinned and cut apart as they’re losing consciousness.
Simply put, some might argue that traditional leather is better for fashion creation. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Traditional leather demands mineral salts, formaldehyde, dyes, oils, finishes containing cyanide, and other harmful chemicals. The skins must go to the tannery, as well. This is where the skins are treated with lime sludge, salt, acids, sulfides, and other chemicals you wouldn’t want near you.
Vegan designers, including Plant Hide’s team of expert Thai artisans, are crafting incredible cruelty-free fashion products. From vegan handbags to vegan wallets and more, vegan leather is just as good as – if not better than – traditional leather.
Vegan teak leaf and coffee bean leathers are sustainable, as well. Compared to traditional leather, it’s incredible that it’s possible to create such high-quality products without the insane amounts of energy and toxic chemical solutions.
Environmental Costs of Traditional Leather
Have you ever wondered, “How many animals are used to make leather?” The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that approximately 3.8 billion cows and other bovine creatures are used in the process–annually. That’s around an animal for every two people, and this doesn’t even take into consideration the animal hides used on a smaller scale to create luxury goods.
The current process of creating leather is unsustainable. While it’s a by-product of the meat industry, the environmental impacts of keeping livestock include deforestation, water and land overuse, and gas emissions. Unfortunately, much of the deforestation for cattle ranching occurs in the Amazon, and this is leading to severe environmental effects, like climate change.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Materials Sustainability Index–responsible for measuring the impact of apparel up to the point of fabrication–rates the majority of leathers an impact score of 159. To give you a better idea of this score, polyester has a score of 44 and cotton has a score of 98. The higher the score, the more the material contributes to global warming, water use, and pollution.
90 percent of the leather production process involves chromium tanning, making tanning the most toxic aspect of the leather creation process. The animal hides are thrown in drums of water with chromium salts and tanning liquor to prevent decomposition and encourage a soft material to form.
The chemicals produce gases while combining with the animal hide, including chromium (IV), which is carcinogenic. This gas is so toxic that some strict regulations govern this industry, resulting in the forced closure of some American and European tanneries.
The workers in these tanneries–including children as young as 10, depending on the country–experience severe side-effects as they’re constantly exposted to the toxic tannery chemicals. Some of these effects include irritation to the airways, eyes, and mouth; skin reactions; kidney or liver damage; digestive problems; long-term cancer or reproductive issues.
What is Faux Leather?
Faux leather, or vegan leather, is a leather made without animal-based materials. These products don’t use animal skin; instead, they use plant ‘hide’ or chemicals.
The durable faux leather material can be used across a plethora of industries. Of course, this includes the fashion industry.
Personally speaking, I’ve tried several different types of vegan leather for my fashion. But the best–by far–have been teak leaf and coffee bean leathers. There’s simply no better leather alternative than Mother Nature’s designs preserved in natural biofilm.
Since so few fashion designers use faux leathers crafted from natural materials, it’s best to seek eco-friendly options. While these products are eco-friendly, there is a wide variety of other incredible options, such as products made from other sustainable materials like cork, hemp, cotton, pineapple leaves, banana plants, and kelp.
Even though the product range currently offered doesn’t include all of the vegan leather options we plan to offer in the future, we support all eco-friendly, environmentally aware, and sustainable products. This is especially true when comparing these products to those made using materials created by the leather tanning and finishing industries.
Is Vegan Leather Good Quality?
The quality of vegan leather depends on how it’s made. While synthetic leather production requires a chemical that’s not comparable to the process of creating traditional leather, other faux leathers exist.
Many vegan leathers are made from synthetic materials. This means they’re made in a lab with chemicals, posing questions about how dangerous faux leather might be to the environment.
It’s usually best to avoid synthetic leather. Besides the impact its production can have on the environment, this material is known for giving off a funky odor and its production is not eco-friendly.
Some vegan leather involves bonding plastic coating with a fabric backing. This is one of the more common ways to create faux leather. However, the types of plastic that are used to create these coatings differ, and this is how we define whether a faux leather is eco-friendly.
PVC leather is no longer as popular as it was during the 1960s and 1970s. But some vegan leather products still use it.
The problem with PVC leather is that it releases dioxins. These are dangerous when people are exposed to them in confined spaces. And they can be incredibly dangerous if they’re lit on fire.
PVC leather also utilizes plasticizers, like phthalates. These are what make the material flexible. But the issue with this material is that some types of phthalate are highly toxic. This is one of the most environmentally detrimental plastics on the planet.
Today, the most common plastic used to make faux leather is PU. This modern material is technologically updated every so often. And this has made the material less dangerous over time.
One flaw, in particular, was how the PU manufacturing process releases dangerous toxins. It uses oil-based polymers that demand fossil fuels, as well.
As you can see, plant-based faux leather options are usually the most preferred. This is because these materials don’t come with the same adverse impacts as synthetic leathers.
Where to Buy Vegan Leather Products?
Plant Hide is a plant-passionate animal-loving brand focused on delivering high-quality vegan leather products. But you can also check other platforms, like Etsy or Amazon.
Teak leaf and coffee bean leathers don’t involve any strange chemicals or unsustainable practices to create it. Instead, it’s possible to develop a product line and ensure all of these products are as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible.
Not only are these products strong and stylish, but they don’t have the same dangerous toxins and offensive odor of synthetic faux leathers.
From men’s vegan leaf leather bifold wallets to vegan leaf leather tote bags, fashionable pieces can be made with ethical and sustainable practices in mind.
If you have any questions about our products, feel free to contact us at any time!