The Truth Between Real and Vegan Leather - You Need to Know
Leather has a questionable history in the fashion industry and raises a lot of sustainability issues. Real leather is often considered a byproduct of the meat industry. In its current state, the meat industry is far from sustainable or ethical as a whole. It is one of the largest sources of pollution from greenhouse gases, and animals are often confined to terrible conditions.
Globally, the meat industry accounts for 14.5% to 18% of all human-made greenhouse gasses emitted each year, which should be considered when discussing the sustainability of leather.
Moreover, it has to be tanned to make leather so that the hide doesn't rot. The most common method is chrome tanning, requiring the hide to be installed in a chromium salt bath, which is highly toxic. When the remaining toxic water is disposed of, it can damage aquatic ecosystems and even negatively affect human health.
With animal welfare and the environment in question with traditional leather, vegan leather is on the rising trend. In fact, the vegan leather industry is projected to be worth $85 billion by 2025. Animal rights organizations such as PETA have taken the view that no animal by-products should be used in the manufacture of clothing and accessories.
With an increase in the appetite for more sustainable fashion (searches are up 75 percent year on year, according to the global fashion search engine Lyst), brands are looking for vegan alternatives in the hope of meeting this demand.
So what is Vegan Leather?
Vegan leather is a term that refers to materials that are made to look like natural leather, although they do not come from animal hides. They are most commonly made of polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl plastic (vinyl). However, a great deal of interest in alternatives and technological advances stems from a variety of vegan leathers made from 100% natural sources. Examples include apples, grapes, leaves, and cork. Vegan leather is very eco-friendly and animal cruelty-free makes it perfect for your daily fashion.
There was a myth that vegan leather goods are not as luxurious as the real one. But, these days, with technological advancement, vegan leather can replace the luxury tag from the real leather and put that crown on itself. Vegan leather made from apple and recycled plastic can make some of the finest leather in the market along with 66% biodegradable and 100% environment friendliness.
Since it is a man-made material, vegan leather can be produced to meet a variety of needs across a wide range of industries. The materials can also be produced in very large sizes, unlike most leathers, which are limited by the size of the hide. It can be made on fabric or flexible plastic backrest (such as polyester).
What does Vegan leather look like?
Vegan leather comes in a number of different shapes and qualities, so some are more 'leather-like' than others. Generally speaking, despite raw materials that sound like nothing in real leather products, focusing on good quality vegan leather, there's not much difference to real leather and can be often mistaken for the real thing.
Is Vegan Leather Good for the Environment?
The name Vegan leather was given because it does not contain any animal products. However, it is not a new product, but a result of decades of pleading evolution (plasticized synthetic leather). In fact, a good ally of fast fashion created to respond to the rising demand for leather at lower prices. Produced with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU), all related petroleum products. They also produce toxic chemicals in their treatment, but most importantly, because of their plastic component, they will take biodegradation many years.
Fortunately, the Fashion Revolution players have already begun to use their creativity to provide more sustainable solutions to both the industry's problems. New alternatives for the use of biodegradable resources are being developed. Resources range from apple peels, cork, wood, and mushrooms; to leaves and fruits of different plants such as teak, pineapple, or coconut for its water, including soya and kombucha tea, and much more. Incredible results are achieved by imitating leather! These materials do offer a solution in terms of origin and environmental impact.
The truth is that leather and its alternatives have a lot to offer in fashion design. The obvious benefit of Vegan Leather is that it has no animal origin. Its ingredients, however, make it an enemy in the war against plastics, some worse than natural leather. Recognizing that, it's a personal choice which kind of leather we want to purchase. We can choose the last alternatives to solve both problems.