By Anastasia Ovchinnikova
8 Things you need to know about Vegan Leather
Vegan leather has come a long way to become what it is today. Although we’ve all seen vegan leather on ads and social media and we’ve certainly heard about it: where does vegan leather come from? And what is it made of? These are some common questions.
Keep reading; this article answers some of the key questions about vegan leather.
The term “vegan leather” is a catch-all term to signify any leather that does not come from an animal. Simply put, any leather that is not animal-based is vegan. Today, vegan leather can come from natural, plant-derived sources such as pineapple leaves, apples, cactuses, coconuts, cork, mushrooms and bio-oils from cereal crops.
But exciting as this innovation is, it can also be also very puzzling: does vegan leather perform like animal-based leather? Is it durable? How does vegan leather even work? Is vegan leather plastic?
Stay here, to find out the answers to the most frequent questions.
Here is all you need to know about vegan leather.
#1 Is vegan leather durable?
Vegan leather definitely has evolved and progressed other the years. Companies whose main ethos is slow fashion made vegan leather durability one of those factors that stands out about the new crop of resistant vegan leathers making them as long-lasting as possible. The Brazilian company Ananas Anam, who uses pineapple leather Piñatex which is known for its durability sets an example.
#2 Is vegan leather plastic?
It can certainly be – PVC and PU vegan leathers still exist today. As mentioned, today’s vegan leathers can be made from pineapple leaf fibres, apples, grapes (waste from the apple juice and wine industries), coconuts, mushrooms, cork and other plant-based sources.
Nevertheless, plastic can still be involved, as some of these materials have a coating made from synthetic substances – but this can be the case with animal leathers too.
Alternatives such as the mango leather created by Dutch company FruitLeather Rotterdam can be made from up to 90% fruit! In addition, some vegan brands use a plant-based plastic made from biopolyoils from cereal crops which are biodegradable.
#3 Is vegan leather good in quality?
From high-street to low-cost brands that may focus on other factors over quality, the quality of vegan leather varies widely.
Jessica Kruger, the founder of Luxtra, says: “The vegan leathers we use are made by companies that have decades of textile and manufacturing experience. Aside from being rigorously tested across a spectrum of technical qualities (abrasion, strength, stretch etc) they are beautifully finished, as only the Italians know how!”
#4 Is vegan leather good for the planet?
Traditionally produced vegan leather, made from plastic polymers, are no friend to the environment as they don’t biodegrade and also release microplastics into the waterways. Good news is that plant-based leathers are much kinder to the planet! Vegan materials require fewer chemicals than plastic and are less polluting of waterways and soil (some are also biodegradable!).
#5 How to clean and care for vegan leather?
Vegan leather is relatively easy to clean. Often, just wiping with a damp cloth is enough, while other times a mild detergent will do the job.
Tip: using a colourless wax keeps pineapple leather Piñatex looking hydrated and fresh.
#6 Is vegan leather waterproof?
Good news: vegan leather is very frequently waterproof. This is the upside of it either being made of, or being finished with, synthetics. Where animal leather might require waterproofing sprays, traditionally made vegan leather rarely does.
Piñatex, for example, is water-resistant, if not entirely waterproof. In addition, many brands are using cork to create vegan leather which offer waterproof products. Coconut leather are also waterproof.
#7 Can vegan leather be repaired?
If your vegan accessories crack, don’t despair: all is not lost. Sometimes, vegan leather products can be repaired and given a new life. Repair kits specifically dedicated to vegan leather can be effective, as can mending products for leather that are made for furniture.
Tip 1: Quick and easy way to fix flaking faux leather is to peel away the flakes and use leather paint in a matching colour to cover up the damage.
Tip 2: To avoid them getting ruined in the first place. Apply coconut on your vegan leather to keep it from cracking – think of it as sunscreen for your vegan leather.
#8 Does vegan leather biodegrade?
This depends on the kind of vegan leather in question.
If we’re talking about PVC or polyurethane leather, then the very issue about them is that they do not biodegrade. Although those made from biopolyoils (plant-based sources) do biodegrade which is great news.
And once again – plant leathers to the rescue. For example, some apple leather is 100% biodegradable. Cork, perhaps the most eco-friendly leather there is, also biodegrades, as does Svala.
The bottom line
Vegan leather is available in a variety of options, and different things may be true for different materials. Vegan leather can contain PVC as a coating or mixed with the material to create waterproof features, even so, vegan leather is kind to the planet. One thing is certain, as far as innovation goes, vegan leather will carry on improving to become an environmentally friendly product that everyone must-have.
Even if you are not vegan, give it a try!
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