Texture Decoded: What is Vegan Leather?

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It’s a question that has dumbfounded minds much, much greater than Aristotle’s — that is, if you put fashion editors and bloggers on a higher intelligence level than one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Otherwise, it is just a question that has dumbfounded us mere mortals: what the heck is vegan leather?

Faux leather is easy to explain. It leaves no question left behind. Faux fur, faux pas, faux leather. But throw the word “vegan” in the mix and you cross into the territory of the Whole Foods’ of the world and it leaves one major question unanswered: are you faux real?

No really, are you faux or real?

Turns out, much like your Aristotle-inspired intuition suggested, vegan leather contains no animal products (or by-products there of). In theory, vegan leather is in fact faux leather simply under a kinder, less polarizing name. As vegan-friendly options pop up throughout our nutritional decisions, the fashion world has brought the buzz word over to the historically animal-cruel industry, making faux anything seem cool again.

Looks like pleather by any other name sells much, much better. Read: there is no difference between most artificial, faux and vegan leathers other than semantics.

But, to be as clear as possible for everyone out there, see what is in the faux versions below. With a few minutes of reading, you’ll have all the information you need to knock the socks off the sales person with your wealth of vegan leather knowledge.

Vegetan: a microfiber material that is specifically designed as an animal-friendly leather substitute.

Lorica: a type of artificial leather patented and manufactured by the Italian company Lorica Sud. Other companies use similar, but less legally binding, alternatives such as Birko-Flor, Birkibuc and Kydek.

PVC: bad for the environment but safe for animals, other than all of the ones currently living on earth.

Overall, vegan leather is an animal activist’s alternative to real leather. However, because no one buys clothes within a vacuum and every purchase you makes affect not only your bank account and the success of your Saturday night out, but women and children the world over, you should always make informed decisions about where you buy, what you buy and who manufactures it.

Stay smart, ladies, and you may end up just saving the world.

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