“Vegan” is all the rage and even in the fashion industry the term “vegan leather” is popping up more and more often. Shoe and bag brands in particular are increasingly advertising products made of vegan leather and are thus jumping on the trend. But what is vegan leather, what is the difference to conventional artificial leather and is it as sustainable as it sounds?
Genuine leather is made from the skin of animals such as cattle, sheep or pigs. We explained exactly how leather is made on the Instagram channel of our brand KLONDIKE 1896.
Vegan leather, on the other hand, is an animal-free leather substitute and is nowadays often used synonymously with the term artificial leather, although this is more of a collective term for these types of leather substitutes. The basis for these materials are often the plastics polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which are mixed with natural materials such as cork, pineapple fibers, mushrooms or cotton. This changes the look and feel of the synthetically produced leather so that it closely resembles natural leather. For example, eucalyptus leather consists of 25% eucalyptus leaves and 74% PVC.
Meanwhile, there are also some completely plant-based alternatives to plastic leather substitutes. However, when buying products made from vegan leather, it usually means conventional artificial leather and none of the purely plant-based alternatives.
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VEGAN = SUSTAINABLE?
Of course, at first it feels great to buy a product made of vegan leather. Because what is vegan is also sustainable and good for the environment. Unfortunately, this is not the case with synthetic leather, which is often marketed as vegan. This is mostly a pure marketing ploy to give the consumer a clear conscience when buying. Some brands additionally sell their vegan leather products at higher prices to support the image of high quality and sustainability.
We at United Brands use both genuine leather and PU (synthetic leather) for our bags and call it that. Through this we actively position ourselves against the use of the term “vegan leather” as a pure marketing tool. It is much more important to us to use high quality materials for our bags so that they last for a long time. In addition, we offer an in-house repair service for all our products to extend the life of these even further. Wearing a bag for many years is much more sustainable than buying a new bag made of vegan leather every year.