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According to a report published by the business consulting firm Grand View Research, the global market of leather alternatives will be worth a staggering $85 billion by the end of 2025.
The study goes on further to declare that rising income and economic growth are the engine behind the growing demand for faux leather and leather alternatives, especially in the footwear segment.
“The rising demand for footwear in emerging markets such as India, China, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam is expected to play a significant role over the forecast period,” highlights the report.
Footwear has emerged as the largest application segment for faux leather.
Vegan leather footwear is accounting for over 34 per cent of the total market revenue in 2015.
Moreover, the footwear segment trumped clothing, bags, automotive, and furnishing, in demand for faux leather.
Paired with the decreasing cost of producing animal-free leather goods, the footwear sector has become the primary driver of the growing trend.
Moreover, the growing ‘athleisure’ trend of combining athletic shoes in shoppers daily lifestyles is further expected to drive the demand in the footwear application sector.
“The price of faux leather footwear is three times lower than footwear made up from animal hide, which enables purchases from lower and middle-income class groups,” continues the study.
Faux leather is already used in eco-friendly cars like Tesla, which advertise it as ‘vegan interior’.
The authors highlight the benefits of faux leather over real leather:
While not always sustainable, faux leather has higher elasticity which means increased comfort.
It is also ‘lighter’ than the animal hide and has increased resistance to alcohol, water, cold and hot temperatures.
Overall, faux leather has higher durability and easiness of maintenance.
“Leather alternatives used in automotive are softer and do not give the sticky feel as animal skins do. That’s why, manufacturers prefer it over real leather for several applications in this segment,” reads the report.
Leather alternatives, especially those made from sustainable and organic materials see growing demand from the conscious consumers of sustainable fashion.
However, the manufacturing costs of vegan leather alternatives are still high.
The good news is that the latest technological advances in vegan leather manufacturing are reflected into a growing demand for sustainable products, which in return is playing a part in the sector’s growth:
“As textile technology is evolving, consumer are preferring vegan fashion, and this relates to the adoption of non-leather products.”
The ethical angle has a growing role to play in the vegan leather and sustainable leather alternatives popularity.
According to the study: “North America and Europe are expected to observe growth owing to the rising trend of adopting cruelty-free products.”
Moreover, animal rights laws in several countries have become a major hurdle for natural leather manufacturers.
Growing awareness among consumers regarding animal killings mainly owing to the programs run by organisations such as PETA, PAWS, WWF and others has played a major role in increasing demand for other alternatives.
Furthermore, the supply-demand gap in the natural leather industry is another major factor which is responsible for manufacturers opting for artificial alternatives.
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