Vegan leather, but what exactly is it? Based on a new market study released by ‘Grand View Research’, animal-free leather or vegan leather market is forecasted to cross the $85 billion mark by 2025. But how many of you know what vegan leather is, and what it stands for?
What is Vegan Leather?
Vegan leather is a plant-based material designed in such a way to mimic authentic leather. Most ‘vegan leather’ products found on the market today are made of polyurethane. While PU is a brilliant polymer that can be used to produce ‘leather’ of any design or size, with specific glossy finishes, and in various colours, it has its downsides.
Another material used to replicate real leather is polyvinyl chloride. PVC was a very popular material in the past, however, nowadays it has lost its lustre because of the sticky texture, and poor durability.
Moreover, as byproducts of the oil industry, all these materials are no longer accepted by the younger generations, which sees them as polluting and damaging to the environment.
Innovative, Sustainable, And Animal-Free
Modern fashion buyers are now turning to eco-friendly leather alternatives, such as vegan leather made from pineapple fibre, coconut water, mushrooms, bacterias, fungi, and many more nature made raw materials.
More advanced materials are created in the lab these days. For example, researchers from Ohio State University have made full use of nano-technology to create an innovative type of leather, able to repel water, dirt, and oil.
But what is even more interesting is seeing designers adopting these materials. In Australia, a 17-year-old designer has created a vegan leather jacket from SCOBY, a slimy bacterial colony.
Piñatex is another type of vegan leather produced from the fibre of discarded pineapples.
Reusing waste is in fact a brilliant idea for creating a more sustainable industry. Moreover, the leftover of the leaves can be used to make fertilizers and bio-fuel.
The process of manufacturing apple leather starts after the organic apples are harvested and juiced.
Then the apple peels are reserved and ground into a fine powder which is then transformed into vegan leather to make shoes or jackets.
Another fast emerging type of vegan leather is mushrooms leather. Made from a special type of fungi, the final product is turned into soft and suede-like material which can be used in the manufacturing of wallets, sneakers, backpacks, and more.
One of the most popular manufacturers of mushroom leather is the California-based startup Bolt Threads, world renown for their product called Mylo.
Finally, Malai is another excellent example of vegan leather. Extracted from coconuts discarded in the South of India, the peels are transformed into flexible, durable and almost leather-like materials. Just like Pinatex, this vegan leather can be used to create belts, shoes, and even bags. Moreover, when compared to real leather, Malai is water resistant.
With the hope that these examples of vegan leather will help you expand your knowledge, it is your turn now to choose your leather garments wisely. Let’s end the use of petroleum-based leather surrogates or the killing of animals. There are so many better alternatives out there, and saying you don’t know or can’t find, is no longer an excuse. 🤗