The Ultimate Journal
The virtues of vegan leather
AS GLOBAL CONCERN IS RISING TOWARDS CLIMATE ISSUES AND ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION, VEGAN FASHION HAS GAINED A LOT OF ATTENTION. THIS NEW HYPE ESPECIALLY FOCUSES ON VEGAN LEATHER.
BUT IS IT POSSIBLE TO CREATE LEATHER THAT DOESN’T HARM ANIMALS AND IS ECO-FRIENDLY ? IF SO, ARE THERE CHALLENGES THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT ? SOME ETHICAL BRANDS DECIDED TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES.
© Alexandra K
While protecting animal life from harm is a key point to ethical fashion, other elements can be taken into account, like the impact of raw material. This is where some vegan leather options can fail in terms of sustainability. Indeed, some brands use polyester as an alternative to traditional leather. Indeed, some brands use polyester as an alternative to traditional leather. If Polyester allows them to produce a material looking like leather without involving animals, it has a disastrous environmental impact : it comes from petrochemical activities and can take 20 to 200 years to fully decompose, leaving a massive print when discarded.
There is also the question of the product's ability to last in time. Whether synthetic or natural alternatives are used, can they be as resistant as animal leather, or are they likely to produce wasteful items and encourage mindless consumption ? The answer, of course, depends on the material. Thankfully, vegan brands across the industry are determined to challenge preconceived ideas, and have created solutions that are respectful of the animals, the environment and people’s wardrobes.
© ASK Scandinavia
One of these solutions is plant-based leather. This eco-friendly material can come from a diverse range of sources ! For example, ASK Scandinavia, a vegan accessories label, uses Desserto®, an organic cactus leather sustainably produced in Mexico, for some of their designs. Fruits can be turned into leather too : Alexandra K uses leftover apples, grapes or pineapples (with material called Pinatex) to create elegant and responsible bags.
Synthetic materials can also create a responsible leather alternative, thanks to advances in technology. Alexandra K notably works with a material called Freedom-Leather. This vegan innovation is made from 100% silicone and contains no harmful substances or petroleum. It is not only resistant but also recyclable. Freedom-Leather thus avoids the problems mentioned above regarding synthetic vegan leather : it does not require polluting actions to exist and can be reused without the risk of ending up in already overloaded landfills.
It is clear that through creativity and innovation, vegan leather can be a very sustainable material. The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg, with new ideas coming up regularly in the industry. Luxury houses Stella McCartney and Hermès developed their first mushroom leather last year, by literally growing the material in laboratories, then reworking and polishing it to create a high quality textile. And it is not just high fashion brands that are following the movement : ethical vegan fashion is everywhere from accessories to childrenswear, as shown by cruelty-free brand BabyMocs. It is a safe bet to say that fashion is just starting to see the virtues of vegan leather !