Vegan Leather Options and Alternatives to Animal Leather

Home Ethical Fashion Vegan Leather Options and Alternatives to Animal Leather
Vegan Leather Options and Alternatives to Animal Leather

Some of you have already taken on the vegan challenge – opting to live a healthier and a happier lifestyle free of animal cruelty.

But we know one area that presents a problem when undertaking the vegan lifestyle is finding alternatives to animal leather. So we’ve decided to help you decipher vegan leather options so you can make more conscious choices free from “vegan-washing”.

Cruelty-Free Clothing

It is no surprise that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) promotes ethical and compassionate clothing. The organisations encourages consumers to check product labels and look for the “magic words” such as “all man-made materials” or “synthetic.”

Leather Alternatives

Vegan leather is an animal activist’s alternative to real leather. Vegan leather is usually derived from the following materials:

1. Vegetan – is a microfiber, synthetic material that is specifically designed and used as an animal-friendly leather substitute. This is also known as a natural alternative to industrial, chromium-tanned leather that leaches toxins into the water supply – less compromise for Mother Earth.

2. Lorica – is made out of high-tech microfibre with properties that are similar to leather. Often used in the sports shoe industry, this material is very light, hard-wearing, breathable and water-repellent, thanks to its strength, durability, breathability and resistance.

Vegan Leather Options & Alternatives to Animal Leather

3. Kydex – is an acrylic-PVC acrylic-polyvinyl chloride alloy, produced by Kleerdex that combines the properties of both the acrylic and the polyvinyl chloride components: rigidity and formability (acrylic) and toughness, chemical resistance and good interior finish ratings (PVC). It is waterproof, scratch-resistant and elastic, not to mention resilient to stretching and shrinking.

4. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – is known as a pleather (retro name for vegan leather) that doesn’t harm the animal but may compromise the planet due to its potentially risky chemical substances. This synthetic leather is prized for its durability, fade and stain resistance and easy maintenance properties.

Learn the Vegan Leather Language.

Some of these toxic synthetic materials are widely known under the misnomer of “vegan”, so it is essential that people master the leather alternatives lingo. Being advertised as ‘vegan’ doesn’t make it ethically superior because some of these leather alternatives still compromise the environment, specifically the chemical substances and toxins each contains and releases during its engineering processes.

If you edge towards more natural options, here are our “hand-picked” natural vegan leather substitutes.


Derived directly from the wood of the cork oak tree; cork fabric or cork skin is known as a high class fabric formed from lean cork shavings. This fabric has certain attributes that make it a perfect alternative to leather.

natural clutch cork bag from Rok Cork
Rok Cork clutch bag. Credit: Rok Cork

For one, it can be cleaned easily and has a very soft texture and incredible textile stability, thanks to its being waterproof, dust and dirt repellent fabric.


Primarily from the Moraceae family trees, it is generally made from the bark of the trees. These are striped, flattened smooth and shaped into sheets, which are then used as thick, soft and faintly textured fabric or even a supple alternative to leather.


Choosing eco-friendly products like paper fabric straw baskets, paper bags and paper clothes doesn’t mean you’re shortchanging quality and durability. This material can last longer than anticipated, especially with optimum care and caution. And it’s biodegradable.

Shop Vegan Handbags at Matt & Nat


Mostly machine-washable, glazed cotton can also be used as a substitute to leather. Passing through some gentle fabrication techniques, this alternative is embossed, glazed, stretched and buffed to a shine, which makes it resemble genuine leather.

Some of its advantages are its water-resistancy, longevity and requiring only minimal care. It is also lightweight, comfy, can be adapted for various uses in the apparel industry.

Consider purchasing items made only from organic cotton if you really want to reduce your environmental impact.

The role of Fashion Technology.

Have you heard of leather crafted from pineapples?

pineapple pinatex vegan leather pineapple leather

Well it’s happening, and it’s being widely embraced by the fashion community. It’s a patented material called Piñatex.

A creation of Spanish designer Carmen Hijosa who worked as a consultant in the Philippines leather goods industry in the 1990s, Piñatex is a way of using tropical fruit waste to create fashionable, durable, and even biodegradable faux-leather products. The pineapple leaves undergo certain extraction processing in such a way that their fibers can be transformed into different textiles “mimicking” the most desired fashions.

This breakthrough of wearable pineapple fibres looks similar to canvas that can be dyed, printed, and treated to give different types of texture. With such treatment, the Piñatex can closely resemble to that of authentic leather causing environmental damage and imposing animal cruelty.

Are you following a vegan lifestyle? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced when shopping for vegan leather? Please leave a comment below as we’d love to hear your story!

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