Sustainable Fashion

Apple Leather Court Case – Leather Industry vs Vegan Fashion Brands


Apple leather?! Who would have thought that the use of ‘apple leather’ term could end you up in a court of law?

We are living great times of change in the fashion industry. Ethics, sustainability, animal-cruelty and transparency are finally tackled as more brands are switching to animal-friendly materials and embrace sustainable practices.

Cities, fashion shows, and catwalks ban leather and fur, one by one. But, change does not always come easy. Or, if it does, it comes at a cost.

At a cost, because old businesses must die for the new ones to come in and become the norm.

For example, vegan materials continue to gain ground while animal leather prices are falling faster than ever. To some, these changes are positive.

To others, it means the end of their businesses, causing all sorts of unexpected reactions, the end of an era.

Apple Leather – A Confusing Term?

Apple leather

And this is the story of a vegan label found itself in a David-vs-Goliath kind of synopsis.

Nuuwaï, a German vegan fashion label was taken to court by the German Leather Federation.

The case revolved around Nuuwaï’s use of ‘apple leather’ term to describe their material of origin used in their handbags.

According to the German Leather Federation, the term ‘apple leather’ was misleading, tricking consumers into purchasing a product that was not made of real animal skin.


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Initially, the German Leather Federation sent Nuuwaï a cease-and-desist letter.

In the letter, the German Leather Federation stated that the term ‘leather’ is meant to describe a material resulting (processed) from animal skin.

Therefore, Nuuwaï’s choice for ‘apple leather’ is intentionally misleading potential consumers of animal-leather products.

Apple Leather or Synthetic Leather?

However, Svenja Detto, Nuuwaï’s CEO, decided to fight back on several grounds.

First, the PETA-Approved Vegan brand is stating clearly on their website that the materials used in their handbags are plant-based.

“Our brand is using the word ‘vegan’ in all marketing communications, and we are very transparent about our materials; what is ‘apple leather’ and how it is produced”, said Svenja.

Also, as the German Leather Federation has emphasised that the only appropriate term to describe ‘apple leather’ is ‘synthetic leather’, Svenja argued that calling a material made from organic compounds synthetic, it would create more confusion for the consumer.

A Win For Vegan Fashion

Finally, as Nuuwaï team decided not to sign the cease-and-desist letter, the German Leather Federation took the matter to the regional court of Hanover.

Long story short, the court has ruled that the use of ‘apple leather’ to describe the material used in the brand’s vegan bags is equally suitable and legal so Nuuwaï won.

The outcome is a perfect example of where we are heading. As consumers are growing more aware and knowledgeable, they consume more environmental documentaries and movies on sustainability, material innovation and ethical consumption.

Growing studies show that leather manufacturing has a profound environmental impact, and modern, conscious consumers no longer want to be part of an industry that kills just for skin, billions of animals every year.

Not now, when there are so many available eco-friendly alternatives such as mushroom, cork, pineapple, wine, and apple leather.

The Rise of Conscious Consumer


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“Apple leather, pineapple leather, mushroom leather, are terms that fashion consumers use to describe vegan products. Consumers are not confused or mislead as vegan leather alternatives are very popular right now,” added Svenja.

Ultimately, regardless of how you call these innovative materials, synthetic, artificial, or apple leather, thanks to consumers’ growing concerns towards meat and its disturbing effects on our bodies and the environment, ‘vegan lifestyle’ continues to gaining popularity.

In a move for change that has helped tremendously all vegan-friendly material innovations, the vegan leather market is forecasted to reach almost 100 billion USD by 2025, in a shift that’s shaking the animal leather industry right at its core. It’s time for a change.

If you feel the time has come to do good, look good, and feel good, please leave your comments below.

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