What is vegan leather

vegan leather jacket

The demand for vegan leather substitutes is increasing every year. This is probably why vegan leather has become a real super trend! Launched at New York Fashion Week, the vegan suede used in Stella McCartney’s designs was spectacular!

Similarities and differences with traditional leather

Eco-leather is increasingly used in the production of clothing, shoes and furniture. But how does it differ from natural?

Natural leather comes from the skin of animals, mainly cows (but poor crocodiles and pythons are also in danger). Its production is associated with the death of killed animals (which many people do not think about). This material is very durable and provides adequate moisture circulation.

Vegan leather (otherwise known as faux leather jacket) is made from a material that imitates natural leather. Actually, made of polyester fabric, additionally coated with polyvinyl chloride. During production it is subjected to chemical processes.

Although both materials are similar, they are easy to differentiate.

  • First of all, you should pay attention to the label. It should contain information about whether the product was created from natural or synthetic materials.
  • Smell can also help differentiate materials. Natural leather has a specific odor, while synthetic leather is usually odorless.
  • The texture of the faux leather looks the same because it is mass produced. Natural ones have heterogeneous cavities.

What is vegan leather made from?

Everyone considers vegan leather artificial, and indeed, when its production began in the 70s, the raw material was polyvinyl chloride. But it is dangerous to health and fragile!

Synthetic materials

The type of polymer used varies.

  • Polyurethane is a completely breathable material, so the problem of sweaty feet in shoes is eliminated. Moreover, it is much less toxic to produce than other options. Of course, the environmental impact of this material depends on the regulations of the country in which it is produced.
  • Freedom Leather uses a patented, environmentally friendly formula to create an alternative to traditional styles. What makes Freedom Leather unique is that it is made from ​100% silicone, which contains no plastic or petroleum.

Important! This fabric is prized for its durability and consistent quality. It is environmentally friendly, and its production requires less consumption of water, raw materials and electricity, compared to the production of PU and PVC fabrics.

This makes it safer and healthier for people.

However, it is too early to call eco-leather production non-toxic. Fortunately, textile scientists are working on this issue, developing new types to make them more environmentally friendly. One of the latest innovations is the use of plant-based plastics, which completely reduces the risk associated with the production of conventional polyurethane.

Natural materials

Have you heard of Piñatex™ material created by Carmen Hijosa? For many years she was looking for an alternative to natural materials. In search of something innovative, I visited many countries and ended up in the Philippines. Here the search for new natural fibers began. The breakthrough came when she realized that she could create a material without weaving or knitting that was compact and ready for further processing. And most importantly, from the material available locally. Pineapple peels are currently being tested by brands such as Puma or Camper.

MuSkin is made specifically for vegans – 100% biodegradable, made from mushroom caps and dyed without any chemicals. Breathable, waterproof, non-toxic to human skin. Who would have thought!

MYX is a natural material obtained from fungal spores and plant fibers. The product was invented by Danish designer Jonas Edward. He focused on the use of municipal waste and the ability of oysters to extract cellulose along with enzymes from the plant.

And there was a wonderful idea – to make leather from tea! Young-A Lee and a team of designers created a prototype shoe and vest made from cellulose fibers, a byproduct of the Kombucha tea brewing process.

Research into its functionality is still ongoing.

Advantages and disadvantages of vegan leather

Cruelty to animals aside, we still ask the same question: is vegan leather good for the health and well-being of children? To understand this, let’s note the pros and cons of the material.


  • Faux leather is cheaper.
  • It does not require special care.
  • Much lighter than natural.
  • Easy to clean.


  • Eco-leather is made from air-tight materials. This may cause excessive sweating or irritation.
  • Unlike natural, it is not completely biodegradable.
  • There are many aspects to every step of the production of vegan or faux leather shoes that cause serious harm to both people and the environment.


New fashion market research from consultancy Grand View Research has found that the faux leather industry will be worth $85 billion by 2025.

It turned out that in countries that have previously produced natural leather on a huge scale (China, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam), the demand for plant substitutes will grow due to interest in inexpensive shoes.

Suede or leather, which is better for winter?

When purchasing winter clothes or shoes, it is sometimes not easy to choose between leather or suede. Both materials look impressive and adapt perfectly to the foot, if we talk about high-quality shoes. They highlight the silhouette well when considering outerwear.

Therefore, even an experienced person may find it difficult to make the right choice. But in any case, you should remember that leather that does not receive proper care during the harsh winter season will not last even three months. And with a suede surface, care will require a little more attention and patience.

The same applies to handbags. Leather and suede are worthy materials that perfectly emphasize the beauty and shape of accessories, but such products also require a lot of care.


For many, suede is the material that defines luxury. Thanks to its special texture, this material has an attractive velvety feel. Natural suede is obtained by tanning. Goatskin is suitable for suede. But more and more often it is made from almost any medium-sized livestock. The raw materials are distinguished by strength, softness, and good properties to retain heat.

Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at outerwear and shoes made from this material. You should not take the product if it is uneven on the surface or has pellets. The material must be smooth (small scratches are allowed), evenly painted, with an even structure. But it is worth clearly distinguishing natural material from artificial material in order to make the right choice when purchasing. The material has the following characteristics:

  • after running your palm over the surface of the suede, an imprint remains on it, but of a different color;
  • the product is not strong, but it smells like leather;
  • the price of natural material is several times more expensive.

So, if the choice has already been made, then you should prepare for the fact that the material does not tolerate moisture and too dry air. Therefore, new boots or sheepskin coats UK should be immediately treated with a spray that protects them from moisture and dirt.

Moreover, when buying a product, you should pay attention to the brand. Professional care will ensure long service life for even the most delicate items. If, after cleaning from dirt, a stain appears on the product or the paint has faded slightly, you can purchase a special paint for suede that will restore the color.


One of the most durable surfaces, which has the ability to retain heat, while breathing and providing maximum comfort when wearing clothes or shoes, is leather. In terms of its strength, it is a leader among natural raw materials for clothing and footwear.

It becomes so durable thanks to the dressing of the skin. The original quality of the raw material is of paramount importance, so leather varies in quality and price. Premium class material is used for sewing expensive shoes and clothes, and is also the basis for modern accessories of prestigious brands.

The skin has the following properties:

  • take the desired shape;
  • promotes air passage and at the same time differs in heat exchange;
  • insulates from cold;
  • has hygienic properties (as a natural raw material for sewing clothes and shoes, providing comfort).

Products made from genuine leather must be treated with protection during periods of frost and moisture. And also rub with creams to prevent the skin from cracking and drying out.

What is warmer, suede or leather in winter?

Many experts believe that with properly selected shoes and clothing, the cold is not scary. But it’s worth being objective. What makes a boot warm is not only the outer layer, but also the lining. Therefore, both types of surfaces with a warm wool or fur interior will always be an excellent solution for winter.

Another thing is precipitation. With them, you should take care of waterproof shoes and still take care of the suede. In situations where you have to go outside in snow or slush in suede shoes, you need to spray your (new) shoes three times with a spray to prevent moisture penetration. Leather shoes should only be treated once.


Proper care of leather and suede products will help extend their service life. By choosing natural material, you will be able to appreciate its best qualities even in the most severe frosts. And decent protection in the form of liquids, foams and paints will help preserve the quality and appearance of things.