Demand for vegan leather has never been higher, and it’s been predicted that the vegan leather market will be worth $85 billion globally by 2025.
Vegan leather is undoubtedly versatile, with everything from biker jackets to bags and purses being made from materials that imitate leather without using any animal products. And it isn’t just fashion brands that are reacting to the demand for cruelty-free leather, the luxury car manufacturer Tesla recently unveiled its latest model with a 100% vegan leather interior. But what is vegan leather made from? And is vegan leather eco-friendly or just cruelty-free?
At Paguro, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common FAQ’s surrounding vegan leather below:
- What is Vegan Leather?
- Do Vegans Wear Leather?
- Is Genuine Leather Vegan?
- What is Vegan Leather Made From?
- Is Vegan Leather Plastic?
- Is Synthetic Leather Vegan?
- Is Polyurethane Vegan?
- Is Vegan Leather Eco-Friendly?
- Is Vegan Leather Good Quality?
- Is Vegan Leather Durable?
- How is Artificial Leather Made?
- What is a Vegan Leather Bag?
- How do you Clean Vegan Leather?
- How do you Clean a Vegan Leather Bag?
1. What is Vegan Leather?
Vegan leather (sometimes known as faux-leather or artificial leather) is used to describe a leather-like material made from a material other than animal skin.
Contrary to what you might think, vegan leather doesn’t refer to one material, but a number of different materials. We’ll explain more about this later on.
2. Do Vegans Wear Leather?
‘Vegan’ is a word used to describe those who choose not to eat, use or wear anything containing animal products. As well as not consuming animal products, the majority of vegans also do not wear silk, leather or wool.
As more and more people move towards veganism for both ethical and environmental reasons, consumers are keen to find vegan leather made from environmentally-friendly or recycled materials, as opposed to traditional artificial leather made from plastic.
3. Is Genuine Leather Vegan?
No. ‘Genuine’ leather traditionally refers to the treated skin of an animal, such as a cow, an alligator or ostrich. As traditional leather comes from an animal, it isn’t vegan, and this is why many vegans opt to not wear leather or use leather products.
4. What is Vegan Leather Made From?
Vegan leather can be made out of a number of different materials: from types of plastics to materials such as cork, recycled plastic, rubber, and even leaves and plants.
At Paguro, we have a wide selection of ethically produced vegan leather products, from jewellery to bags, purses, and accessories.
We work with designers who create vegan leather products from recycled and repurposed materials, such as the upcycled inner tubes of old truck tyres. Recycled inner tubes make a great vegan alternative to leather, due to their similar textures and unique patterns.
5. Is Vegan Leather Plastic?
Sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be! Traditionally, vegan leather was often made from plastic materials such as polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This is where the term ‘pleather’ (a term sometimes used to describe faux leather) comes from, it literally means ‘plastic leather’.
However, today’s consumers are more aware of the negative environmental impact of plastics and are instead opting for brands that use recycled or plastic-free alternatives to make their vegan leather.
6. Is Synthetic Leather Vegan?
Synthetic, is another word to describe artificial leather, is often made from PU or PVC and designed to closely resemble the look and feel of real leather.
Synthetic leather is usually made from plastic rather than animal products and is therefore vegan.
7. Is Polyurethane Vegan?
Yes, polyurethane is a plastic derived from petroleum, not animal skin, and is therefore vegan.
Despite being vegan, polyurethane is not necessarily environmentally friendly as other vegan leather alternatives.
8. Is Vegan Leather Eco-Friendly?
It can be, but it depends on what the material it is made from.
Fashion is considered the fifth most polluting industry on the planet, equal to livestock. The leather industry combines both of these industries and causes many issues for the environment as well as for those working in the industry.
In addition, other issues include the large carbon footprint caused by livestock farming and tanning - an essential process in leather production. This produces many toxic chemicals and damages the ecosystems in the countries where it takes place.
However, the plastic-based artificial vegan leather of the past, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), also produces many harmful toxic chemicals known as dioxins during the manufacturing process. The many environmental impacts of PVC leads to it being dubbed as “the single most environmentally damaging type of plastic” by Greenpeace.
Today’s plastic-based vegan leather, polyurethane (PU) doesn’t produce as many environmental toxins as PVC, but because it is derived from fossil fuels (such as petroleum) it isn’t exactly environmentally friendly either.
Despite this, there is an increasing number of vegan leather materials that help the environment, not harm it, by reducing waste and saving products from the landfill or incinerator through upcycling. At Paguro, we aim to reduce landfill waste by creating our vegan leather products from reused, repurposed materials.
9. Is Vegan Leather Good Quality?
The days of vegan leather being perceived as low quality are certainly in the past. As mentioned, vegan leather is used by many luxury brands: from car manufacturers such as Ferrari and Tesla to high-fashion brands like Stella McCartney.
10. Is Vegan Leather Durable?
Absolutely. Traditional leather has been renowned for its durability, but products made from vegan leather can be equally, if not more, durable.
As our vegan leather products are made from recycled inner tubes, they are extremely durable and do not require any additional waxes, or protective treatments to keep them in good condition.
11. How is Artificial Leather Made?
Depending on the materials used, there are a number of different ways that vegan leather can be manufactured.
Our vegan leather goods start their journey as the discarded inner tyres of trucks in South-East Asia. If not salvaged by our designers, the tyres would find their way to landfill or be incinerated.
Instead, these truck tyres are rescued by our designers and turned into a range of different products: from stylish upcycled bags to keyrings and accessories.
To find out more about the people behind the designs, take a look at our designer profiles.
12. What is a Vegan Leather Bag?
As the name suggests, a vegan leather bag is made from a material that has the look and feel of leather, but has not been made using animal skin. Just like traditional leather, vegan leather is extremely versatile and can be used to create a wide number of products: from sleek wallets to stylish tote bags and many more.
Take a look at our range of vegan bags made from ethically sourced recycled materials.
13. How do you Clean Vegan Leather?
If you’re wondering how to clean a vegan leather purse or bag, we’ve got a number of handy tips to keep it looking as good as new.
When using any solutions to clean your vegan leather, remember to patch test a small amount of solution on part of the bag that isn’t usually seen.
14. How do you Clean a Vegan Leather Bag?
Here are our simple tips on cleaning your vegan leather bag:
- Firstly, empty your vegan leather bag.
- Remove any stains immediately with a damp cloth - Just like traditional leather, stains are more likely to stay if left to settle. Unlike traditional leather, however, our inner tube material is completely water-resistant and can be cleaned with water without causing any damage to the product.
- Once you’ve spot cleaned with a cloth and some dish soap, make sure to use a damp cloth to remove any soapy residue.
- Once clean, leave your vegan leather to air dry and enjoy using it again and again.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about vegan leather. For more tips on upcycling and sustainable living, take a look at our other blog posts.