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What is vegan leather?
So what exactly is vegan leather? Well, it is actually just faux leather, or pleather, under a different name. With a lot of clothing items, it is sometimes hard to know if any animal products have been used in their production. Same goes for faux leather products. Branding jackets, pants, bags, hats and many other items as vegan leather basically reassures customers that absolutely no animals were harmed in the making of these products
Faux leather has been around forever, mostly because real leather is generally expensive and can be even more costly if it comes from certain animals or is made by hand. Faux/vegan leather, however, has also raised some concerns regarding the environmental effects of the non-natural materials used to produce it. In fact, very few vegan leathers are made from natural materials, though it is possible to find them out there.
Materials used to make vegan leather
Two very common ingredients of vegan leather are polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and polyurethane, or PU. Both of these are plastic-based materials. The process of making vegan leather also involves other chemicals and materials that are not so eco-friendly (see below Vegan leather vs. the environment). Some of those other materials are the following:
- Vegatan: a microfiber material that is specifically designed and used as an animal-friendly leather alternative.
- Lorica: this material is made from several different microfibers.
- Birko-Flor: a synthetic material made from PVC and fleece. Used by Birkenstock, a popular leather retailer.
- Kydex: an acrylic-PVC alloy. Used by Kleerdex, a manufacturing company.
Vegan leather comes in a few different forms and qualities, some being more “leather-like” than others. Most of the time, it is easy to tell quality pleather from its cheaper counterparts. However, the average retailer will sell good-quality vegan leather, which is hard to distinguish from real leather, unless you look very closely. Faux leather is less breathable than real leather because it does not have the natural pores that real leather has. When vegan leather is made, its texture is basically printed onto the surface. Overall, however, there is not a whole lot of a difference in terms of feel between real and vegan leather.