Shopping for leather: the best alternatives.

We all love leather for different reasons. Some like the patina that makes it personal, some the durability and some the luxurious feel. But leather tanning is one of the most polluting processes in the fashion industry today, not to mention the cruelty aspect. Luckily enough, there are tons of affordable, eco-friendly, vegan and sustainable alternatives that can replace it. I’ve made a new video on the brands and the interesting materials they use.

Did you know you can get good quality leather from mushrooms, apples, and pineapples?

I’m sure you’ll like this one.

 

ANIMAL LEATHER

Whatever the source of the leather you are wearing, it’s very likely that it is animal hide or skin. This means your clothes, shoes or bags have been produced out of cow, goat, kangaroo, crocodile, snake, fish or other animal skin.

Besides the cruel sourcing of all these types of leather, the main problem is the heavy chemical process that takes to get this product consumer ready. Around 80% of leather is tanned using chrome. Chrome tanning deposits vast amounts of toxic waste into public rivers and water sources. Moreover, the people that live in these production areas or the workers that come into contact with Chromium develop cancers and other life-threatening diseases. The local environment becomes so toxic that it eventually cannot sustain any type of life.

If you’d like to know more about the side effects of the leather industry, this Pulitzer awarded mini-documentary has more information

 

THE MOST SUSTAINABLE OPTIONS: 

 
 Vintage bag by  Either and

Vintage bag by Either and

VINTAGE/ SECOND HAND LEATHER

This will put the tanning industry on hold, as there are more than enough leather items out there. Moreover, vintage items will save you money and look unique. 

Where to buy? 

 
 Upcycled leather jacket by  Better World Fashion

Upcycled leather jacket by Better World Fashion

UPCYCLED LEATHER

I am glad to see more and more brands that work with upcycled leather and create new and beautiful items out if it. You can even send your old leather items to most of them and ask to reporpose them for you. 

Where to buy? 

 
 Vegetable tanned leather bag by O My Bag

Vegetable tanned leather bag by O My Bag

VEGETABLE TANNED LEATHER

Vegetable-tanning is the "chromium-free" method, and does not have harmful chemicals. It is an artisanal process that takes advantage from the tannic acids naturally found in some plant species, by using the barks, branches, leaves and even some fruits in some specific techniques. 

Where to buy? 

 

FAUX LEATHER 

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and Polyurethane (PU) leather is a plastic by-product and as we all know, plastic is forever. This type of faux leather breaks faster and ends up in landfills or our oceans even faster. So, whenever you see PVC or PU on the label, give them a hard pass.

THE MOST SUSTAINABLE OPTIONS: 

 
MATT&NAT_SS18_MODSQUAD_EDITORIAL_6.jpg

RECYCLED FAUX LEATHER

Recycled faux leather is made out of polyester or plastic waste. It's not only look good, It's also better to the environment. Using recycled polyester instead of leather, for example, creates 24 times less of an environmental impact, as calculated through the Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L).

Where to buy? 

 

PINATEX VEGAN LEATHER

Piñatex is an innovative natural textile made from pineapple leaf fibre. The leaves are the byproduct of existing agriculture, so they require no extra farming. Their use creates an additional income stream for farming communities. Piñatex is a natural, sustainably-sourced, cruelty-free material produced with low environmental impact and high social responsibility in mind.

 Pinatex bag by  Eve and Adis

Pinatex bag by Eve and Adis

Where to buy?

 

CORK VEGAN LEATHER

Cork leather is  vegan, sustainable, chemical free material. The benefits of cork leather are multiple. The material is lightweight, waterproof, wear and tear resistant and soft to the touch. Every piece of cork leather is unique due to the nature of the material, so no two items will ever look alike.

Where to buy? 

 

 

APPLE VEGAN LEATHER

 Apple Vegan Leather by  Happy Genie .

Apple Vegan Leather by Happy Genie.

Apples are another great natural source for vegan leather. Happy Genie is using fibre waste from apples to create luxurious leather that gets turned into beautiful, multi-purpose bags. The bags are handcrafted in Italy. Their process is completely transparent and they support local craft through their business model.

Where to buy? 

Happy Genie (bags): $$, Women, Switzerland.

 

I hope these seven alternatives to new-made animal leather have peaked your interest. I’m sure that as technology progresses, more and more solutions to sustainable leather will appear. And as I’m ever vigilant, I will let you know as soon as I find them. If you have a friend that’s considering a leather purchase in the future, do them a world of good and share this with them.

Now it’s your turn to tell me what animal leather alternatives are you using. So please let me know in the comments which of these options would be the easiest for you to adopt.

blog.png

This method will save you money and make you look your best.

- WHILE SAVING THE PLANET -