As a cruelty-free blogger, I get asked the question of leather a lot, and the good news is that I’ve talked about leather in many blog posts already! Whether it’s 3 Reasons To Give Up On Leather, How To Rock Vegan Leather or The Ultimate Pair Of Vegan Boots, or even my blog post on Everything You Need To Know About Vegan Fashion, I talk about this subject in quite a bit of detail.
More than a billion animals are slaughtered for their skins every year. Many of these animals have their tails and horns cut off without painkillers, and some are even skinned and cut apart while still conscious.
However, only in this post I’ll talk about actual alternatives to leather! Yes, I’ve shed some light on the leather industry (not that I can be blamed though) but haven’t offered many leather alternatives apart from brands doing things differently.
If you don’t know much about the leather industry, I recommend you watch the singer Leona Lewis’ a campaign with PETA called Hell for Leather, in which you can see the reality of animals such as cattle and goats slaughtered painfully for their skin in Bangladesh. The skins are then processed in tanneries and with workers, including children, full of toxic chemicals. This shouldn’t just perturb vegans, but anyone with a passing regard for the planet. We know that raising livestock in increasing numbers is unsustainable, purely from crunching the numbers around greenhouse gas emissions.
This time, I want to talk about actual materials that can replace the leather in your closet, and you can trust me when I say that not only does vegan leather make you look good, but it also will make you feel good because it’s cruelty-free. 🙂
Most vegan leather is made of polyurethane, a polymer that can be made to order for any designer’s whim. It can sparkle, have a nice glossy sheen, or be saturated in all kinds of shades that send leather to the background.
Many high-street stores also make leather-imitation goods. However, these ones are often made with PVC, a plastic that contains chloride and is not bio-degradable.
In my opinion, if you are looking for handbags, one of the best brands to offer affordable and some great leather alternatives is The Lovely Things.
The Lovely Things is a brand that is practically part of the Marta Canga family and has been with me since my very beginnings! I’ve written about them here already, but if you don’t know who they are already, let me tell you about them! The Lovely Things started off with Monica wanting to unite her passion for fashion and animal friendly fashion. After turning vegan, the idea of cruelty-free fashion gave birth to her brand, which offers perfectly durable handbags made of high quality synthetic fabric that would look and feel like real leather. All handbag designs are simple, elegant and functional. All of the accessories are made from the finest, genuine faux leather and all animal ingredients are excluded.
Furthermore, they donate a percentage of their profit to animal welfare associations and organisations every month. What else would you want??
Mushroom Leather: MyCoWorks
Mushrooms add a hearty texture to plant-based dishes and are often used as a substitute for meat, but MycoWorks is taking things a step further by using mushroom mycelium to make leather. After 20 years of research, they’ve developed an eco-friendly leather alternative that’s strong, water-resistant and completely biodegradable. The company is able to custom-grow the material into virtually any size or texture desired, making it a great alternative to animal leather. We’re still waiting to see it commercialised but in the meantime, we’re keeping an eye on it!
Another vegan alternative to leather is using cork, which is a sustainable, high quality material that is made to be durable and resistant. Besides being waterproof, elastic, fire resistant and unique in its appearance, it is a naturally harvested material, mainly originating in the cork oak forests located in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain). There are many brands using this material so it’s hard to just bring it down to one company! A quick Google search should be able to help you find some amazing companies. The only one I know is Corkor.
Grape Leather: Vegea
Based in Milan, Italy, this innovative company has developed a way to make leather using the skins, stalks, and seeds of grapes. They have just won the PETA Vegan Fashion Awards, and also the H&M Global Change Award.
These by-products of the wine industry usually go to waste, but Vegea has found a way to turn it into a leather-like fiber. This patent-pending technology will be used to turn nearly 14 billion pounds of grape marc that’s discarded globally every year into a cruelty-free leather alternative that can be used for everything from accessories, car interiors and furniture.
Piñatex: Anas Ananam
Probably one of the most famous leather alternatives, Anas Ananam is a Spanish brand founded by Carmen Hijosa (who I met in March!). They offer a leather-like material made from pineapple leaf fibers. This fiber is a byproduct of an existing agriculture, so all in all, this is a wonderful natural, sustainably sourced and cruelty-free alternative everybody should know about.
With so many leather alternatives already available and more likely on the horizon, it is my hope that cruelty-free and eco-friendly alternatives will soon be in higher demand than animal-based leathers. It is a better choice for the animals, as well as our planet! I hope to have convinced you that vegan leather offers a killer look without any suffering. Say hello to these fabulously chic alternatives!
Which leather alternative are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments!
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Photography by Alexa Mitiner
This article contains sponsored content. All opinions are my own.