It is very robust, lasts a lifetime and feels good on the skin: leather has been used by people for thousands of years and is one of the oldest materials used. for our ancestors it was even vital to their survival as they made shoes, clothing and blankets from animal skins. even today, the fashion industry still relies on leather for a variety of products such as clothing, bags, belts, shoes and wallets.
But real leather is made from animal skin, which is now viewed critically by many people. many manufacturers are therefore increasingly relying on leather alternatives and imitation leather in order to produce products without any animal suffering. "vegan leather" is particularly trendy at the moment, which is supposed to revolutionize the leather industry. but what is vegan leather? in this article you will find out what the alternative is all about and what vegan leather is made from.d.
Vegan leather vs. real leather: that's the difference
In contrast to our ancestors, we no longer depend on real leather and many people today avoid real leather products out of conviction. the fact is: over 1.4 billion animals are killed every year for leather production. real leather also doesn’t have the best environmental balance. in order to preserve animal skins, they must be treated with many toxic chemicals.
Vegan leather, on the other hand, is available from a wide variety of materials. any imitation leather that does not contain any animal products in its production can be described as vegan leather. this not only includes not using real animal skin, but also the use of adhesives without animal ingredients. depending on the material vegan leather is made from, there are different manufacturing processes for imitation leather. synthetic materials or plant fibers are used and processed so that their feel and appearance resemble real leather. in many cases, vegan leather can have striking similarities to real leather. the layperson often cannot tell the difference, which is why the popularity of vegan leather has increased rapidly in recent years.
The most famous types of vegan leather
Vegan leather is a collective term for many different imitation leathers and does not refer to a specific type of leather. there are now a variety of leather alternatives made from numerous materials and new processes are constantly being researched. below we present the most popular types of vegan leather currently on the market.
Synthetic leather refers to different types of artificial leather that are made from different materials such as polyurethane (pu) and polyvinyl chloride (pvc). synthetic leather products such as furniture, clothing and accessories are popular alternatives to real leather products due to their high-quality appearance. the imitation leather is easy to clean, robust and weather-resistant.
It must be emphasized that not all artificial leather is automatically vegan. in many cases, other components such as glue contain animal ingredients. synthetic leather is usually only vegan if it is labeled accordingly.
Pineapple leather is made from the plant fibers of pineapple palm leaves and is very popular due to its tear-resistant, soft and breathable properties. since the leaves of the pineapple palm are not needed in the cultivation of pineapples, pineapple leather is a by-product of existing agriculture, which contributes to the sustainability of the material. to ensure that the end product is particularly durable, the leaves are coated with pu. pineapple leather is very popular in shoes, fashion, furniture and accessories and is already used by some major fashion brands.
Like pineapple leather, apple leather is also a byproduct of agriculture. apple leather is made from the leftovers of the apple juice industry. the apple pomace is pulverized and mixed with pu, which ensures stability. the mixture is then applied to a textile carrier such as polyester or cotton. this imitation leather is also popular in the production of fashion, shoes and handbags.
Similar to apple leather, the fibers from the cactus are mixed with pu and applied to a textile carrier. nopal cactus is mainly used for this, as it uses very little water and naturally regenerates the soil. the finished cactus leather is durable, breathable and is made into clothing, belts and wallets.
Faux leather made from mushrooms
Mushroom leather is made from the root network of mushrooms, the so-called mycelium. for people looking for an environmentally friendly product, this type of leather is ideal. mycelium utilizes organic waste and requires very little water and energy to produce. here too, however, a small proportion of pu is required to make the end product last longer.
With the slogan the future is plants. not plastic. the company natural fiber welding has patented a new type of vegan leather that is made entirely from bio-based raw materials. the vegan imitation leather does not require any synthetic coatings or adhesives, requires no water during production and only releases a fraction of the co2 emissions. the material is biodegradable and can be fully recycled.n.
Vegan leather is so sustainable
No matter what material vegan leather is made from, the animal-free alternatives are all far ahead of leather made from animal skins in terms of sustainability. even synthetic leather, which is often criticized, is not as harmful to the environment as real leather. although leather is a natural product, like meat production it has a negative environmental impact. animal husbandry requires a huge area, the co2 emissions are enormous and the production uses huge amounts of water and energy. tanning one square meter of leather alone requires around 500 liters of water.
However, vegan leather is not automatically sustainable. there are big differences depending on the type when it comes to environmental friendliness. many types of vegan leather are made by adding plastics and contain plastic. even plant-based vegan leather, which is made from natural fibers such as pineapple or apple, requires the plastic polyurethane (pu) during production. although this is harmless to health and free of heavy metals and other harmful substances, it is not biodegradable and is difficult to recycle. in addition, pu partly consists of non-renewable raw materials such as petroleum, which are neither sustainable nor environmentally friendly. therefore, the criticism of many types of vegan leather is entirely justified.
At the same time, numerous companies that care about human health and the preservation of our planet are researching vegan leather alternatives that do not contain any plastic. first successes like mirum® Leathers are already on the market and there will certainly be more to come. because the more the demand for vegan leather increases, the more the supply of sustainable vegan leather products will increase.
How high quality is vegan leather??
How durable, robust and comfortable vegan leather is depends on the individual quality of the provider and the type of imitation leather. high-quality vegan leather alternatives made from artificial leather, pineapple leather or mirum® are very breathable, durable and hard-wearing. Visually, they are in no way inferior to leather made from animal skins. No matter whether it's a jacket, shoes, wallet or bags, vegan leather can keep you warm just as well, is soft, very tear-resistant and looks at least as beautiful as the original.
Is vegan leather the future?
In the fashion industry, in interior design and in car furnishings: leather alternatives are no longer considered cheap imitations, but rather a popular alternative. due to high demand, but also due to increasing environmental awareness, many companies are increasingly turning to vegan leather options. these not only protect the animals, but are also better for people and nature.r.
However, real leather is not going away any time soon. between 2000 and 2014, global leather production increased by 21 percent. the leather industry is booming in countries like asia and latin america and a complete switch to vegan leather alternatives is currently unrealistic.
However, with the increase in vegan leather, animal suffering can be reduced somewhat and the environment can be protected. although not all vegan leather is completely sustainable, it is better than real leather and therefore a step in the right direction. at spaceproducts we support the vegan trend and therefore offer several vegan models of ours in our online shop Slim Wallets out of Leatherette and Cork at. In addition to the environment, animal welfare is also important to us. After all, the best thing about producing vegan leather is that no animals have to die for it.