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Vegan leather – not made from the skin of dead animals.

There have always been some leather alternatives but those are usually made from plastics. Not only do they need around 500 years to degrade, but also they pose a big threat to our oceans and to our food chain. From fishing lines to flip-flops, there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. Additionally, the process of plastic production releases to the environment dangerous chemicals, such as dioxins. Is why we need Eco friendly Vegan leather, which is cruelty free and biodegradable.

In the making of natural leather more than a billion cows, pigs, goats, sheep, alligators, ostriches, kangaroos, and even dogs and cats are cruelly slaughtered for their skins every year. Many of these animals have their tails and horns cut off without painkillers, and some are even skinned and cut apart while still conscious.

Turning skin into leather takes loads of energy and a toxic brew of chemicals—including mineral salts, coal-tar derivatives, formaldehyde, oils, dyes, and finishes, some of them are cyanide-based. Tannery waste contains water-fouling salt, lime sludge, sulphides, acids, and other pollutants.

Below is some beautifully textured leather lookalikes that shall be considered by the environmentally responsible citizen.


It may be hard to believe that paper can be as strong as leather, it can certainly be strong enough for a handbag and many replacement products for animal leather. Eco friendly paper products are handmade using virgin fibres from cultivation, instead of deforestation. The manufacturing process is similar to that used to produce leather, with each individual sheet of paper stretched and tanned to produce a durable and washable paper.

Some of the designers that have so far made of line of Paper leather bags are, Bottega Veneta, Ilvy Jacobs and Engage Green.



Cork is one of the best vegan and eco-friendly fabrics. Long used as a water-resistant, organic material in floor tiling, cork is widely regarded as being one of the most ecologically friendly materials around. It’s easily recycled, completely natural, and using Cork Oak forests for industry helps prevent desertification and deforestation.

After being harvested, the cork is left to air dry for six months. Then it’s boiled and steamed to get even more elasticity. Heat and pressure are applied to cork to press it into blocks, which are later sliced in thin sheets that can be transformed into a multitude of wonderful cork leather accessories. Unlike the heavy chemical processing of leather, cork leather production is chemical-free.

With its naturally waterproof qualities and organic texture, brands like Chanel and Louboutin have put the Portugal leather to good use.



While fashions have changed throughout the years, waxed cotton fabric has remained. Preferably organic, it’s a perfect substitute for leather. Waxed cotton is a unique high-performance fabric. It is made by weaving 2-ply cotton yarn into a strong canvas fabric, which is then treated with a proprietary mixture of micro and technical waxes. This oil/wax treatment creates a highly resistant wind and water barrier, while maintaining the breathability of the cotton. Big brands, such as 7 for all Mankind and Marc Jacobs have long used this for jeans and bags, respectively. The material is also pliable, waterproof, and unlike leather, easily washable, cutting down on specialist textile cleaning bills, and also saving the environment from more dry cleaning chemicals.



Synthetic rubber is hardly biodegradable, and then what becomes of an old rubber product? When rubber gets recycled properly, it is used as a TDP – Tire Derived Product. TDPs are used belt around your waist, made in a recycled rubber roll form, they are converted into playground surfacing that protects your kids.

Some rubber, such as that used in inner tubes, can actually have quite a leathery texture and density, making it the perfect material for bags. Paguro, for example, is one brand that makes stylish unisex bags and sassy cuffs from the easy-to-care for material. The recycled rubber they use imitates the look of fine grain, matte leather, which translates beautifully into their various accessory designs.



This is a brand new kind of leather. It’s made from sew able slate stone and has a matte grey finish. It looks and feels a bit like paper combined with stone. It has an old battered leather look. As it ages the little scratches that form on it make it look like a well-worn stone. It also softens even further as it ages. A fairly new material but it’s got a lot of potential for replacing PU and even leather in the future.

The world’s thinnest stone is applied to a backing of fleece, which gives it flexibility and means it can be sewn together. the material also has naturally patterned texture which varies – no tow pieces are alike. Sew able slate is marketed by the Italian family-run Villani Leonello company which also supplies cork leather and other natural materials including cotton, linen and jute.



Tree Bark Leather is similar to cork leather but is made from sustainable timber, wood leather is durable, strong and one piece is never like another, due to the varied natural grains of the product.

It can even be made as fine and thin as real leather, to create coats and trousers. The best tree bark leather is made from fast growing, renewable wood, and is treated with non-toxic chemicals to make it durable, well preserved and flexible enough to sew. Dolce and Gabbana has used Tree bark leather and its amazing effects in their bags and platform shoes.



In the world of material innovation, we see more and more awareness of the impact materials have on the world. When we realise that cows are one of the largest contributors to climate change, it is not strange that more and more alternatives for fake leather appear on the market. The Swiss company Happy Genie created luxury handbags out of a new animal free leather: made from apples. The Apple Girl considers apple leather as “a substitute to conventional, fossil fuel derived textiles.” Her company is the first supplier of this new material.

To make the leather, the apple waste, from apples cultivated in Italy, is dried and ground into powder. This powder is mixed with pigments and a binder and spread out onto a canvas, until it turns into a leather-like material, which is PETA-approved vegan.



Commonly known as the pineapple leather, this material is made from wasted parts of the pineapple bush, and is 100% eco friendly, vegan friendly and is also ethical in the sense that it gives pineapple farmers yet another source of income from their crops. The material feels like cowhide leather, is watertight and very durable. Due to these qualities more and more shoes and bags brands have been using it.


Most of the Vegan leather is plant based and eco friendly. They are economically, commercially viable and fair trade. Pinatrex and Muskin are 100% vegetable, and Pinatrex is also made from existing agricultural waste, aiding farmers in Philippines. Cork and barkcloth help local communities sustain a traditional way of life, rubber has sustainability initiatives in place, sew able slate is supplied by small family run business. In short our very small conscious choice as a consumer can make a big wide impact to the lives of these farmers/makers and to the environment we will in. Let's contribute for ourselves to ourselves! 

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