All About Vegan Leather

All About Vegan Leather

Posted by Jules Kae on


If you're a fan of fashion and accessories, chances are you've found something you love that features leather. Whether it's a purse, belt, wallet, hand sanitizer holder, backpack, or sunglasses case, leather is one of the most popular materials designers use to create quality fashion accessories. Unfortunately, creating items out of leather comes at the expense of the life of an animal. For many, it's a battle between being animal-friendly and finding a purse or wallet you love. But did you know you don't have to give up the look of leather to continue to rock beautiful accessories? Thanks to vegan leather, now you can have the best of both worlds!


What is Vegan Leather?

The first step in finding your new favorite fashion accessory is to understand what vegan leatheris and the key differences between it and traditional leather. Vegan leather, also known as faux leather or pleather — for plastic leather — is a material that provides an animal-friendly alternative to traditional types of leather made from animal skins. There are two products most commonly used to make vegan leather:

  • Polyvinyl chloride:This material is also known as PVC and is the world's third most popular synthetic plastic polymer. PVC is either rigid or flexible and is a common material choice in the construction of food packaging, pipes, and bank cards.
  • Polyurethane:This leather alternative, also known as PU, is also used to make skateboard wheels, hoses, and synthetic fibers such as spandex. Polyurethane is a good leather alternative because it is flexible, durable, and more environmentally friendly than traditional leather.


These two materials are synthetic and can be made in various colors and styles to meet the needs of designers across the world.


It's important to note that although the term vegan leatheris standard in the fashion industry, there are still those who believe that, by definition, leather must involve the skin or hide of an animal. When shopping for products, feel free to ask questions about the origin of the type of material the company uses, and whether or not it's vegan leatherif the description is unclear.


Types of Vegan Leather

In addition to PVC and PU, there are several types of leather alternatives available across the globe. Although vegan leatheris a fantastic alternative to traditional leather, very few examples utilize all-natural materials. However, it is possible to find eco-friendlier options. Many companies are turning to fun and funky ways to create their products while still staying chic and trendy, including the use of:

  • Banana leather
  • Mushrooms
  • Cork


Banana farmers throw away approximately one billion tons of banana plant products each year during harvesting. Although the banana plant is biodegradable, companies can harness the massive amount of banana fiber waste to turn it into a material to make wallets, bags, and clothing. Banana leather is nearly carbon-neutral and features a texture similar to bamboo and hemp. The material is also incredibly durable, waterproof, and remains biodegradable even after production.


Another unique source of leather alternative is mushrooms. Brands such as Stella McCartney and Adidas have been experimenting with mushroom leather in various fashion options. Mushroom leather is a newer type of vegan leather. It has the benefit of being durable, soft, and biodegradable, as well as offering a much shorter production timeline compared to traditional leather.


In addition to mushroom leather, cork is another new material that companies use to make fabulous handbags and accessories. Cork is organic and comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. The cork is harvested, allowed to air dry for approximately six months, and then steamed or boiled to increase flexibility. Operators then press the material into blocks that they then slice into sheets of cork leather. Cork is a fantastic option for vegan leatherbecause it is eco-friendly, durable, washable with soap and water, stain-resistant, water-repellent, and scratch-proof.


How is Vegan LeatherMade? 

The most common way to make traditional vegan leatheris by attaching the material of your choice to a layer of fabric. The type of material could be any of the examples listed above, including polyvinyl chloride, cork, mushrooms, or something else. Depending on the type of product a designer is making, a protective coat may be added to the vegan leatherto prevent it from fading, prevent moisture damage, and keep it safe in various environments.


What Does Vegan LeatherLook Like? 

One of the greatest things about alternative leather is how it has developed to look as close to traditional leather as possible. Unless you have experience working with conventional and vegan leather, you may not even be able to distinguish between the types of leather.


There are two of the main differences between vegan and traditional leather:

  • How it patinas
  • Breathability


The way that the leather ages is called patina. Think about the way that your jeans become more worn and relaxed the more you wear them. A similar effect occurs as natural leather ages. The oils from our skin and other elements from the environment cause the leather's lighter brown color to develop a darker, deeper hue. Vegan leatheris synthetic. Therefore, it doesn't patina the same way that traditional leather does.


The second physical difference between vegan leatherand natural leather is the appearance of pores. Natural leather is breathable due to its pores. All other types of vegan leatherlack pores, and therefore, any pores you see are printed onto the material and are artificial. However, unless you're squinting or using a magnifying glass, most vegan leatherproducts are nearly identical to their traditional leather counterparts.


How to Take Care of Vegan Leather

It's important to remember that most types of vegan leatherare treated with a plastic coating and are waterproof. Although the coating means that you can use a mild soap and water to wipe down these leather alternatives to keep them clean, it also means that conditioners can't penetrate the material to help add protection from cracking.


Natural leather can develop cracks or damage as it ages, and the same can be said for vegan leather, especially if the customer frequently exposes it to the sun. Fortunately, products are available that can help treat alternative leather products to prevent damage and increase longevity.


Can Vegan LeatherBe Washed? 

Depending on the type of material used, many vegan leatheraccessories are easy to clean. For example, this hand sanitizer holderis long-lasting and robust enough to remain in excellent condition despite being exposed to the elements. Jules Kae, the designer behind the hand sanitizer holder, recommends wiping the case with a natural cloth when wet and avoiding high water exposure to prevent staining.


Is Vegan LeatherGood for the Environment?

Faux leather doesn't use any type of animal skin or animal product in its assembly. One of the most significant points of contention for people is that using faux leather often involves plastic. Although most vegan leatherproducts involve polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride, these options are still a much more sustainable and ethical choice for belts, clothing, wallets, or shoes than purchasing traditional leather.


Companies Using Vegan Leather

In addition to using the material to craft purses, tote bags, and hand sanitizer holders, vegan leatherhas also started making appearances in larger arenas. Animal advocacy organization PETAannounced in June of 2019 that a personal meeting with Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk had resulted in the car company offering it's Model 3 and Model Y with leather-free interiors. In addition, car companies such as Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Kia, and Subaru offer a variety of 100 percent leather-free and vegan models.


The Best Vegan LeatherAccessories

Although alternative leather accessories have been available for decades, recent technology has substantially elevated the quality of the products available. Many brands embrace vegan leatherfor more than its ability to offer a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional leather because it creates a great product.


A few decades ago, people commonly referred to faux leather as pleather, also known as plastic leather. You could quickly tell the difference in quality between something faux and the real deal. Now, however, brands turn to vegan leatherbecause not only is it more sustainable, but it also has established itself as a high-quality product rather than an alternative.


Here are just a few examples of some of the high-quality vegan leatherproducts available today:

  • Belt
  • Clutch
  • Hand sanitizer holder
  • Tote bag


Vegan LeatherBelts

There are dozens of ways to accent your outfit with a belt. These accessories are more than a way to hold up your pants or draw attention to your waist. Belts are becoming a notable fashion trend that combines fashion with function. A prime example is this belt bag. This accessory is a fantastic choice for attending concerts, festivals, or other events where you want to avoid carrying a full-size purse. Belt bags offer a way to keep your keys, cash, and cards close while also providing a beautiful fashion statement. These belts can be worn with jeans and a t-shirt or add one to your favorite dress.


Vegan LeatherClutch

Adding a clutchto your outfit is a great way to dress up an ensemble while also carrying around your essentials. The Sophia Clutchfeatures ostrich-textured high-quality vegan leatherfor added visual interest. A folded envelope flap closure keeps your valuables secure while a hand strap makes this clutch easier to carry than other styles. The Sophia Clutchis also available in leopard printfor a fun pop of color.


Hand Sanitizer Holder

Keeping your hands clean is essential, so keeping hand sanitizerreadily availableis key. One of our absolute favorite vegan leatherproducts is this hand sanitizer holderkeychain. Keeping hand sanitizerfloating around in your purse can be problematic for multiple reasons: the bottle could spill, and you have to dig through your purse to grab the hand sanitizer. This hand sanitizer holderclips on to your purse for easy access and is a beautiful way to accessorize your bag.


This hand sanitizer holderis a fantastic purchase for yourself to keep on your tote bag, backpack, and car keys. We also love using the hand sanitizer holderas a gift for our friends, family members, coworkers, and significant others. Nearly anyone can benefit from having quick and easy access to hand sanitizer, which makes this hand sanitizer holdersuch a fantastic purchase. Each case comes with its two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, too! Whenever your first bottle of hand sanitizerruns out, grab a replacement from your favorite convenience store, snap it into your hand sanitizer holder,and you’re good to go!


Vegan LeatherTote Bags

Tote bagsare an excellent choice for carrying to the gym, holding your laptop and work materials, or holding your everyday essentials in style. Fashion editors and influencers rave about the Charlotte Tote, and it's easy to see why. These totes can be carried with the adjustable crossbody or using the attached whipstitch handles. The large size makes them a versatile choice for all of your activities, and you'll love the vegan leatherconstruction. Choose from colors including denim blue, tan, black, and grey, as well as from standard or crocodile textures.


Many of these totes offer color choices that complement the colors provided by the hand sanitizer holderby Jules Kae. Pair your favorite purse with the matching hand sanitizer holderor pick a color that offers a nice pop of contrast.


All About Jules Kae

If you're looking to update your handbag collection with classic, feminine accessories like belt bags, totes, crossbodies, or even a chic little hand sanitizer holder, look no further than Jules Kae. Our line features premier cruelty-free, PETA-approved vegan leather, and even better, it’s women-owned. We design for the modem, on-the-go woman while following current trends and pushing fashion boundaries. When it comes to high-quality vegan leatheraccessories, Jules Kae does it best. Click hereto browse the entire collection and fall in love with leather redefined!


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