Did you know that a recent study estimates the vegan leather market to be worth $85 billion globally by 2025? Consumers are aware of the non-ethical, cruel standards of manufacturing real leather. Compared to previous decades, the visibility and popularity of vegan leather is rising.
From luxury to affordable, many designers are now experimenting with vegan leather. Some use cheaper forms such as Polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride leather. Additionally, some brands are experimenting with creating their own vegan leather.
Vegan leather isn’t just limited to plastic, textured leather. Newer, innovative forms use mushroom, cork, cactus, pineapple, and other plant-based materials. Such choices help consumers make eco-friendly purchases as an alternative to real leather.
Do Any Designers Use Vegan Leather?
The quality of vegan leather and the type of product depends on the company that manufactures it. Some types of faux leather are of low quality and durability. However, brands have ventured beyond such limitations.
For instance, there are brands that aim to curate vegan leather. This contributes to an ethical wardrobe as they use plant material that is sustainable and biodegradable. An example of vegan footwear and fashion is a brand known as Will’s Vegan shoes. Founded in 2012, the brand has curated vegan clothing and sustainable fashion since then.
The vegan leather shoes are created using bio oil from organic crops grown in Europe. They tend to be soft and breathable, unlike faux leather. Brands such as these use materials that have minimal effect on the environment as they are biodegradable.
Which Are Some Luxury Designers Using Vegan Leather?
Luxury brands are beginning to stray away from leather as well as pleather. To embrace sustainability, luxury brands are now looking to vegan leather that mimics the texture of real leather. This contributes to the promotion and purchase of eco-conscious products.
Some of the world’s biggest fashion brands are jumping onto the trend of vegan leather, such as:
The usage of bio fabrics in the fashion and textile industry is pioneered by Stella McCartney. A vegan brand from the start, the company had resorted to using the first line of vegan alternatives. Synthetic leather replaced Brazilian calf leather as the brand claimed less environmental impact.
In recent times, the brand announced its aim to work with recycled or renewable materials. Since 2018, the brand has embraced the use of Mylo, a form of vegan leather made from mycelium. In addition, the brand also uses paper and recyclable packaging.
This luxury brand entered the vegan leather industry with the release of Demetra. The product was a sneaker designed with vegan material. The leather used raw plant materials and bio-based polyurethane sourced from wheat and corn.
This eco-friendly leather alternative was priced at a high rate. But, this shows the beginning of brands partnering with startups that produce vegan leather. Brands like Gucci are now on a mission to reduce their environmental and ethical impact.
The French luxury brand launched its first ‘eco sneaker’ with its entry into the sustainable market. The material for the eco sneaker is claimed to be 90% recyclable and bio-sourced. A corn-based plastic known as biopolioli and econyl, a renewable nylon fabric were used.
These sneakers join a collection of high-end sustainable footwear by luxury brands. This shows the growth of bio textiles in the luxury fashion industry. In the years to come, we might see the same with smaller and affordable brands.
Chanel forms one of the biggest luxury leather goods companies in the world. Following its ban on fur and exotic animal skin in 2018, the brand has experimented with leather alternatives. The brand has used Pinatex as vegan leather for items in its collection.
Pinatex is made from pineapple plant fibers in the fruit’s leaves and stalks. This meets the quality and ethical standards most luxury brands are aiming for. The fashion house is set to make more efforts to update its collections in the coming years.
In the Spring/Summer 2020 collection, Tommy Hilfiger made the news for its sneakers made from vegan leather. The sneaker resembled its other collections. But, the high-quality vegan leather used was made from recycled apple peel fibers.
The Appleskin fabric was developed by Frumat. This is a startup that aims to reinvent and repurpose the apple waste from the Italian Food industry. Tommy Hilfiger has banned the use of exotic animal leather since 2020. The brand is also considering other projects and partnerships to explore greener alternatives.
Luxury brand Hermes prided itself on exotic leather products made with calfskin. The brand partnered with MycoWorks, a Californian start-up. In an innovative attempt with vegan leather, a travel bag known for its animal hide was designed using mushroom leather.
The original travel bag by Hermes used grainy Clemence calfskin. This was prior to making the switch to vegan leather. The vegan product was called Sylviana. The material was cultured in a lab. The process is cruelty-free and has a minimal carbon footprint.
In 2016, there were ten new companies that were dedicated to creating cruelty-free leather. But the investment in 2020 alone was more than the combined investment in the past four years. Animal cruelty-free and eco-friendly leather are on the rise, and even luxury brands want in.
Vegan leather addresses the cons of producing genuine leather. It also provides an alternative to the pollution that fast fashion creates. Global brands are becoming aware of their unsustainable practices and are looking to amend or reverse the effects.
The vegan leather from luxury brands is currently expensive. But, it is the first step toward including sustainable fashion in everyday life. Investments in the vegan leather industry are expected to increase in the decades to come.
With new and innovative products on the rise, vegan leather may soon be more accessible. An increase in accessibility guarantees an increase in affordability. Smaller brands can work with vegan leather and cater to the widespread usage of eco-friendly leather.
Image Credit: Gucci Demetra Collection (photographer Louise Browne)