Since more and more people are become vegan for such products have grown a lot. Vegan leather has gained attention over the past couple years and designers as well as brands all over the world startet offering vegan leather products. But what is vegan leather exactly and why should we bother switching to it?

Probably the most important question for the customer how is it feel and last with regards to durability and quality. All these questions plus vegan leather product recommendations are answered in this article. 

What is vegan leather?

The term “Vegan Leather” is often referred to products that feel like animal leather or are supposed to imitate / substitute leather but are entirely vegan. No animals are harmed or killed during the process of making it and the materials are therefore 100% vegan. Since the definition means it just has to be vegan there are a lot of vegan leathers out there.

What is vegan leather made of?

Vegan Leather is not made of one material or fabric per se, it is rather a term used for a wide variety of materials that are vegan and feel just like leather. These materials do not use or involve any animals or animal products during the manufacturing process. Since there are quite a few on the market we have listed the most common and practical vegan leather fabrics below to give an idea what is actually possible.

Side Note: Many people refer to pu leather when they are talking about vegan leather because it is perhaps the most common used vegan leather fabric. This might lead to confusions since there are many other alternatives available.

TOP 7 Vegan Leather Fabrics

There is a lot of experimentation and research going on when it comes to vegan leather all over the worlds. Scientists are constantly trying to improve the quality, durability, feels as well as sustainability of vegan leathers to set new standards for the market. Since there are quite a few vegan leather fabrics out there we have listed the most common, practical and promising vegan leather alternatives.

PU / Polyurethane Leather

Probably the most common vegan leather is pu leather or polyurethane leather. It has been on the market for quite a long time. Polyurea, as it often called in other industries, has been originally used in the construction and engineering field for coating all kinds of things. It is an ultra durable and long lasting “plastic” that has innovated a whole industry.

Pu leather is also used for vegan leather products and is probably one of the most used materials right know. It is also quite durable when used for vegan leather products. Usually it lasts quite long when treated correctly.

Since it is an artificial man made material it is not really sustainable per se. A lot of chemicals are used for the manufacturing process and it is obviously the opposite of biodegradable.  It is not easy to recycle and requires quite a lot of resources to make. Compared to animal leather it is still better with regards to ethics and impact on the environment.

When bought brand new in the shop it has a. very synthetic and plastic kind of smell which goes away after a couple of days or week. After that the smell is neutral and it lasts quite long without having to treat it with special pastes or anything like that. It is also water resistant and very light. It might look very similiar, especially from distance, to real leather but does not feel the same. It is not as soft and feels a little more artificial. 

Pinatex / Pineapple Leather

Moving on the our favorite material at the moment – pineapple leather (also called pinatex). These leather fabric is literally made from recycled pineapple leaves that are normally thrown away after harvesting the pineapples. Our whole leather strap collection is based on pinatex and we simply love it.

In order to make it the pineapple leaves get harvested, dried and the fibre is taken from them. The fibre of the pineapple leaves is basically the core resource used for the manufacturing process of pinatex making it a natural. Compared to pu leather it is more natural, eco friendly and overall sustainable. 

Furthermore local farming communities in the philippines now have an extra income source by process the leaves. Ananas Anam the original company behind it ensures all workers are treated correctly and get paid fair wages. Pinatex is a rather sustainable, ethical and eco friendly leather alternatives that is quite promising.

The durability and quality if treated correctly is quite good. Especially when treated with otter wax it gets even more water resistant and lasts longer. The feel is quite soft, not like leather, but it feels very nice on skin. The smell is very neutral and natural, almost non existent.

With the current formulation it is still not bio degradable though.

pinatex pineapple leather

Check out our sustainable watch collection with vegan leather straps made from recycled pineapple leaves.

PVC Leather

PVC Leather is another artificial plastic like fabric that is often used for vegan leather products. It is similar to pu leather with regards to the feel and look. But during the manufacturing process more chemicals are used and other toxic substances like dioxine are part of it. This is makes it, although vegan, suboptimal for as a leather replacement. It is still not sustainable because dioxine is not only toxic for humans but also the environment.