Responsible animal-originVintage

Is it ethical to buy leather bags or shoes?

Is it ethical to buy leather bags or shoes?
By Renoon

Isn’t leather coming from the waste of the meat industry? Is it ethical to buy leather? From brands ditching fur to the personal choices we need to make when it comes to animal-derived options in fashion.

In the past years, more brands have joined the “no-fur” team, by completely eliminating it from the list of materials they use. Chanel, Michael Kors, Gucci in 2017-18, Balenciaga this year.

Lauren Indvik – journalist at the Financial Times, covering stories about sustainability and fashion – suggests these are too much “an easy win”.

To cite Billie Eilish “I find it shocking that wearing fur isn’t completely outlawed at this point in 2021”. During the MET Gala 2021, Billie was the one who force the brand she wore to go completely fur-free as a condition to working with them, as Renoon reported in the linked article.

The impact this has, though, is not comparable to the use of exotic skins and leather.

Isn’t leather coming from the waste of the meat industry?

Is it ethical to buy leather bags or shoes?
Image via Stella McCartney

It is. As Lauren continues on an interesting piece on the FT: “most luxury handbags and shoes are made from the skins of young calves which are smoother and more supple than those of mature cows.”

So, even if all the Gucci’s of this world would go plant-based, it would not mean saving a significant number of animals. This is the reason why leather is sometimes referenced as a good-enough choice when we have sustainability in mind: if the leather would not be used for our shoes and bags it would go to landfills, generating more methane as they decompose.

Is it ethical to buy leather bags or shoes?
Image via Gucci (left) and Oscar de la Renta (right)

However, research from Circumfauna shows how the emissions generated from the normal processing of leather to make shoes and bags are significant. And more polluting than vegan alternatives.

Is there a way to buy leather sustainably?

Vegetable tanned, metal-free leather, recycled leather, and vintage. These are all options to do leather responsibly.

Is it ethical to buy leather bags or shoes?
Image via BEEN London

Vegetable-tanned leather, for example, is a responsible alternative because it uses natural materials in the process. Metal-free leathers are tanned and finished without resorting to heavy metals, specifically: Aluminum, Iron, Titanium and Zirconium.

Recycled Leather is made from leather obtained from left-over materials of various factories that would ordinarily go to waste.

What’s ethical for you?

As we often mention on our socials, there is an intersection between sustainability and ethics. For example: would you buy vintage or recycled leather if you have a vegan diet?

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal decisions, and no one can judge what is personally ethical for you. Keep watching Renoon’s app for more advocates that can inspire this journey together, with values closer to yours.

What to read next

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