These days leather is not for everyone. When it comes to choosing a vegan leather product, it is important to understand the alternatives, how they are produced, and what they are used for.
Vegan leather is used in a range of products including handbags, backpacks, shoes, and more. It is an ethical product, and many of the alternatives are eco-friendly and more sustainable than using animal by-products.
Take a look at some of the common leather substitutes below:
PVC and PU
A few years ago, if you were looking for an alternative to leather, you would be offered polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). While they are free from animal products and therefore do qualify as vegan, they are also made of plastic which is not environmentally friendly.
PU is still a popular material today and is often found in shoes as it offers a similar look to leather. It is also used in things like mattresses and skateboard wheels but being plastic, it is certainly not good for the environment. It is made from fossil fuels, and the production process is dirty. However, it is very durable and more breathable than PVC, and this is part of the reason it is still used today.
A much newer arrival to the faux leather market is pineapple leather. Made from the leaves of the plant, it is immediately environmentally sustainable. Traditionally the leaves are not used once the fruit is harvested so they are a surplus element that can be utilised without additional growing requirements. Plus, the plant provides a source of income for rural farming communities.
Pinatex is a strong and breathable fake leather alternative that leaves no waste. However, there is a downside, during production, a petroleum-based coating is sometimes applied meaning that it is not biodegradable. A more natural coating is being looked into.
Cork makes a great alternative for the soles of shoes and other products where leather would have been used. You can never disguise the fact that it is cork. It has a distinctive look, which might not work for some products, but it is natural, breathable, and biodegradable. It also has natural antibacterial properties and is sustainable as it can be grown with no impact on the environment.
Paper is a very versatile product that can be used in place of leather when treated and processed correctly. It is sustainable and can generally be recycled, providing that any coatings are made of materials that can biodegrade.
All Kula Bags are made from a paper material called Texon Vogue, which has been accredited by both the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and Oeko-Tex. These international standards guarantee that no harmful substances are used on the material and ensure that is sustainably sourced from responsibly managed forests.
More information about Texon Vogue can be found on our materials page.
What are the benefits of vegan leather?
With new innovations each year, there are many vegan materials that offer an alternative to leather with the same appearance and durability. Vegan leather is cruelty-free, and many of the alternatives are sustainable and eco-friendly.