Vegan Leather: The Whys, The Hows (& How To Repair It!)

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With the prices of leather products and accessories only increasing with every passing day, fashionistas looking for leather’s unique texture are rapidly turning to alternatives. Unless you’re content with grabbing whatever’s on view at the Paris Fashion Week, the best choice is Vegan Leather. 

Vegan Leather, often called Faux Leather, Leatherette, or leather, is a humane alternative to conventional leather, and instead of animal hide, it is made from recycled plastic or organic waste. Both types (organic and inorganic Vegan Leather) have found widespread popularity with people worldwide, with vegan handbags quickly taking over the Paris Fashion Week and the New York Fashion Week, to name a few. 

Why Do People Use Vegan Leather?

Vegan Leather or Faux Leather has several advantages over conventional leather in many places, like: 

  1. Because vegan leather is cheaper to produce overall, it’s much more affordable than genuine leather, and a vegan leather tote bag doesn’t cost a month’s pay.
  2. Most types of vegan leather are very durable and can withstand scratches or scrapes that would deform genuine leather. Yes, this means you don’t have to be as careful with them.
  3. With technology evolving over the years, faux leather copies the texture of natural leather and can even be modified to look like different or exotic types of animal leather. 
  4. You can clean most inorganic vegan leather accessories with a simple rag and warm water because, unlike natural leather, it doesn’t retain moisture. 
  5. Both types of vegan leather are also much easier to work with than genuine leather. They’re easier to cut and sew, and needle marks are less noticeable. 

The Types of Vegan Leather

If you’re here, we’re guessing you already know a lot about Vegan Leather. Still, for the people being newly introduced to the concept of Vegan Leather, we’ve summed up the two main types of Vegan Leather, with examples and the advantages of both:

Organic Vegan Leather

This category includes leather fabrics made from plant-based materials, many of which are recycled most of the time. Also called ‘plant leathers’ in many places, organic vegan leather comes in many different types, like: 

  • Pinatex: Pinatex is plant leather made from pineapple feels, and while it’s a little more expensive than pleather, it’s biodegradable, it’s somewhat long-lasting, and if we’re any judge, pinatex handbags look beautiful!
  • Fruit Leather: Fruit leather is more common than Pinatex and is generally made from crushed and refined fruit peels. We’re not quite sure where the fruit goes, but fashion houses claim it’s recycled organic waste.

Given the vast amounts of fruit peels required? We sure hope so. 

  • Cork Fabric: Cork leather is surprisingly one of the most common kinds you’ll find. It’s an accessible material to work with, and the best part is, compared to other kinds of organic vegan leather, it’s very affordable too. 
  • Mushroom Leather: No, seriously, we’re not kidding. Plant leather is often made from different mushrooms or types of fungus. You can even find leather fabric made from algae. 

Inorganic Vegan Leather

The second category is synthetic vegan leather, which refers to leather fabrics made from polyurethane, Poly-Vinyl Chloride, or other types of plastic. These are collectively called ‘pleather’ (a mix of plastic and leather. Funny, right?). While they’re usually made from petrochemical plastics, fashion houses and manufacturers worldwide are rapidly switching to using recycled plastic. 

Many people have voiced concern about what the wide scale production of more plastic products would do to our ecosystem. Still, at the point we’re standing, it couldn’t be worse than the greenhouse gas emissions given out by leather tanneries. In fact, with technological advancements, the production of pleather is becoming less toxic by the day!

All in all, there are three main types of synthetic leather:

  1. Vinyl Pleather: Vinyl pleather is very common and the easiest to maintain out of the three. You’ll often see it being used in hospitals and restaurants because of this and the fact that it doesn’t need a lot of care. However, vinyl pleather can also get very uncomfortably hot in the sun, so it’s not used for accessories as much.
  2. Polyurethane Pleather: PU pleather is slightly more upscale than vinyl. It’s generally considered the best imitation of regular animal-hide leather because it wrinkles the same when stitched. The surprising thing is since it doesn’t contain plasticizers, PU pleather remains soft. 
  3. Silicone-Based Pleather: Silicone is the newest type of pleather, and unlike the other two, it is an organic polymer. This means silicone pleather uses Carbon at the molecular level, making it more environmentally friendly. There’s no air pollution in the production process, and it needs very little water. However, silicone-based pleather is more expensive than the other variants because of all this.

How Can You Maintain Vegan Leather?

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We said above that vegan leather is easier to maintain than genuine leather. Is that true? Yes! Whether you’re talking about synthetic types or organic ones, vegan leather accessories and upholstery can be wiped clean with a simple rag and some warm water. The best part is that vegan leather comes with a plastic coating, it’s already waterproof. If something drips onto your pleather bag, you can wash it off with mild detergent or use a soft cleaner fluid to get the job done. 

However, this also comes with a disadvantage. Because of the plastic coating, conditioning products can’t penetrate synthetic leather to stop it from drying up, which is why PVC or PU leather bags aren’t that common. 

The good news, though, is that you can buy products to cover the plastic’s surface and prevent sun rays from damaging the surface. These products also act as softeners for the leather’s surface.

Can You Repair Vegan Leather?

Yes! Both types of vegan leather can be repaired at home, though we’ll take the time to say that synthetic variants are much easier to fix than organic ones. All you need to repair your vegan handbags is a faux leather repair kit, available at most stores that stock supplies like threads, needles, and knitting supplies. If you can’t find them at a store, you can also order one online and deliver it to your doorstep. 

You don’t even have to be worried about getting the wrong one since you can use these kits to repair a wide variety of faux leather!

Can Vegan Leather Be Unwrinkled?

If you accidentally took your pleather bag out into the blazing sun and it’s all wrinkled, all hope isn’t lost. Pleather can be unwrinkled, but before you try anything, it’s essential to remember that you should never put the iron directly onto the surface. Instead, protect the leather surface with a sheet or blanket first, and then steam that to get the heat into the surface. Heat it evenly for ten to twenty seconds, but don’t go above thirty seconds, or you risk damaging the pleather’s surface!

Final Words

While vegan leather has lots of advantages for both customers and manufacturers, like the fact that it’s both affordable to produce and cheap to buy, In the end, the best thing about vegan leather will always be the fact that it’s a low-cost alternative to an inhumane product. Vegan leather production has much lower impacts on our environment than leather production. With technology coming as far as it has, it is much less polluting than plastic products made in previous times.

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