If there are so many great vegan alternatives to leather, why don’t ethical brands use them?

Updated : October 2020


  • Sourcing professionals
  • Textile chemicals professionals
  • Textile industry sustainability professionals
Leather tanning is toxic especially when it to the most common and key ingredient to the tanning process: chromium. When poured untreated into waterways, tannery effluent leads to serious skin and breathing ailments and eventually birth defects. While natural or vegan leather alternatives are available that don't require brands to compromise on quality, the article answers questions on whether the perception of vegan leather is an issue or why more designers and brands aren't using them? The article states that most of the vegan alternatives to leather are still being developed, tested, and piloted. They are not available yet for brands to buy and use. Many alternatives also have a particular style that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, and in this regard, is yet to become popular amongst consumers. There is a growing concern that under the growing alternatives in vegan leather, many products are coated with plastic such as polyurethane (PU), or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and the brands using them do not label this while marketing the products. While using vegan leather products, they don't last very long. The leather on the other hand will outlast any non-leather alternative by tenfold almost. The leather being sourced is also a traditional, local material for black and indigenous (BIPOC) artisans, paying more to import vegan leather would strain their livelihoods as well. Luxury leather brands have started buying from sustainable leather tanneries that manufacture leather in a process called wet white tanning, which is free of harmful chemicals, have water recycling programs installed at the factories. While shoppers have the choice to purchase leather or faux-leather goods, the article asserts that they have to do so thoughtfully and consciously.

Read More: If There Are So Many Great Vegan Alternatives to Leather, Why Don’t Ethical Brands Use Them?


Longetivity of vegan leather over real leather

Researcg and development in vegal leather alternatives

Sustainability of using vegan leather alternatives

Perception of vegan leather available in the market

Sustainably manufactured leather in tanneries

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  1. If There Are So Many Great Vegan Alternatives to Leather, Why Don’t Ethical Brands Use Them?
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