Vegan leather and faux leather are essentially the same thing. Essentially, both are fake leather materials that don’t use animal skin.
Because the goal is to make a FAKE “leather,” this can be accomplished from a number of different ways, ranging from synthetic materials like plastic, to natural materials like cork.
The most common materials for synthetic leathers are PVC and PU. These are plastic materials. Another term for fake leather, is commonly known as pleather. This essentially is short-form for plastic leather.
Because of the use of plastic in fake leather, there are a number of safety, and environmental, concerns raised about the dangers of vegan leather. Very few vegan leathers come from natural materials – even though there are many eco friendly materials like cork, pineapple leaves, and more.
Our goal in this article is to educate you about vegan leather, so you can be better informed as a consumer when you purchase your next vegan leather wallet, or other vegan leather item.
How is Vegan Leather really made?
Synethic leather is made using chemicals, and an industrial process different from real leather. Typically, vegan leather is made by bonding a plastic coating to a fabric backing. The types of plastic used can vary, and this is what defines whether the vegan leather is eco friendly or not.
PVC is used less than it was in the 60’s and 70’s, but many vegan leather products incorporate it. PVC releases dioxins, which are dangerous and can be especially dangerous if burned. In addition, it uses phthalates, which are plasticisers, to make it flexible. Depending on the type of phthalate used, it can be very toxic. Greenpeace has determined it to be the most environmentally damaging plastic.
The more modern plastic is PU, which has been developed to reduce hazardous toxins released during manufacturing, and the oil polymers it’s made with.
What does Vegan leather smell like?
Vegan leather made with PVC or PU has a strange smell. It’s described as a fishy smell, and can be hard to get rid of without ruining the materials. PVC can also outgas toxin which give off this smell. Often, many womens bags are now made from vegan leather.
What does Vegan leather look like?
It comes in many forms and qualities. Some forms are more leather like than others. Generally speaking, there isn’t that much of a difference in real leather. Vegan leather is synthetic, so it doesn’t form a patina when it ages, and it’s less breathable. For durable mens bags, it can be a good idea to get a vegan leather item for extended wear and tear.
Vegan Leather vs Real Leather
The main reason people decide to go for vegan leather is because they don’t want to harm animals. The issue is, vegan leather implies that you’re buying an environmentally friendly product – but this isn’t always the case.
Is Vegan Leather better for the environment?
Vegan leather is never made from animal skins, which is a huge win for activists. But the fact is, the manufacturing of synthetic leather using plastic is not beneficial for the environment. The manufacturing, and disposal, of PVC based synthetic create dioxins – which can cause cancer the synthetic used in vegan leather do not fully biodegrade, and can release toxic chemicals in to the environment which harm animals and people.
Is Vegan Leather better than real leather?
Quality and durability is critical when looking at leather. Vegan leather is thinner than real leather. It’s also more light weight, and that makes it easier to work with. Vegan leather is also less durable than real leather.
Real quality leather can last decades.
This is an important decision when you decide on buying vegan leather products. There is an environmental impact when you replace a fake leather product several times, versus the 1 time purchase of a real leather item.
Synthethic leathers wear out unattractively. Faux leather, especially PVC based, isn’t breathable. So for clothing items, like jackets, Vegan Leather can be uncomfortable.