Vegan leather is, simply put, another name for synthetic leather, or, a leather made with manmade materials versus being derived from the skin of animals. The most commonly used materials for this synthetic leathers are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU).
The SENREVE woman is one that cares immensely about the environment and ensures a sustainable and healthy world for the future. SENREVE set out to change the way luxury handbags are produced by sourcing quality materials and working only with ethical tanneries and workshops. We've committed to minimizing waste at every step.
In addition to our 100% Italian leather handbags, we've launched a 100% vegan collection, which is entirely animal-free. Our partners are committed to testing and innovating the next high-quality, eco-friendly material, and all packaging and boxes are completely biodegradable. Read on to learn more about what vegan leather is and how it can be a great alternative to regular leather.
Vegan Leather vs. Real Leather
Fundamentally, vegan leather is any material that resembles animal leather, but without using any animal products. Real leather, on the other hand, is produced from the tanned hides of an animal. There are many types of synthetic materials used in faux leather to help resemble that of normal leather, and the manufacturing processes can vary depending on that material.
At SENREVE, we combine the latest advancements in synthetic manufacturing with our sustainable business practices to ensure we do not sacrifice quality or our eco-friendly values. The SENREVE woman can rest assured that her purchase of a vegan-friendly option will last just as long as normal leather. The SENREVE lineup of the Vegan Maestra Bags, including the Vegan Midi Maestras and the Vegan Mini Maestras, maintains its classic counterpart's sleek, elegant look, but is 100% animal and animal by-product free.
How is Vegan Leather Made
Faux leather is generally manufacturing by bonding together a plastic coating to a fabric backing. This process varies widely depending on the materials used and how closely the end result is meant to mimic real leather.
The most common material used to produce vegan leather is PVC and PU. However, it can also be manufactured from organic materials such as cork, apple peels, and even pineapple leaves. The materials used defines whether or not the product is ultimately eco-friendly.
Different Types of Vegan Leather
Let's take a look at the different types of vegan leather available in the market, from synthetic plastics to plant-based.
Synthetic & Plastic Materials
Polyurethane leather (PU), also known as "pleather" is one of the most common types of faux leathers. It is the most versatile and can be easily turned into a variety of colors. One of the noticeable differences between PU leather and genuine leather is the "patina" (the deep, aged look natural leather takes on overtime), a trait admired by lovers of real leather.
Polyvinyl Chloride Leather (PVC). PVC is found in many plastic items around your home such as flooring, plastic furniture, piping, etc. Much like PU, PVC is manufactured using a bonding technique of applying a thin layer of the plastic on top of a layer of fabric, which is then textured in some way. Additionally, this type of faux leather can oftentimes take on a shiny appearance and is more easily identifiable as not being 'real' leather.
Apple Leather. As the name suggests, apple leather is made from leftover apple waste following the production of apple juice. The waste is dried and ground into a powder, which is then mixed with pigments to achieve the desired color. This method of leather production does achieve a beautiful textured pattern and is more sustainable since it reuses waste that would otherwise be thrown out. Unfortunately, the longevity of apple leather is not fully known, and finding apple leather products is difficult.
MuSkin, a 100% vegetable leather. Primarily made from the caps of mushrooms that grow in subtropical forests, MuSkin is completely free of toxic substances, making it more ideal for any uses that would keep it in close contact with your skin. It has a look and feel that more closely resembles suede and is waterproof in its natural form. Like apple leather, it is not widely produced, and its longevity is still unknown.
Pineapple Leather, called Piñatex, is derived from pineapple leaf fiber. Like apple leather, it is also made from harvesting and repurposing waste; however, it requires a thin layer of polyurethane to be applied as a protective coating.
What Does Vegan Leather Look Like
Based on the different types of materials and manufacturing processes, faux leather can take on a variety of appearances and textures. In general, the processes that involve texturizing create a product that more closely resembles a true leather-like appearance. However, the biggest difference in look between vegan and real leather is how the material will age and the appearance it takes on over time.
As real leather ages, it takes on what is called a patina. If you've seen older leather that appears darker in some places than others, that is a patina. As leather is exposed to oil on the skin, it takes on the darker pattern. For true leather lovers, this look is what makes leather so unique. Vegan leathers, which are synthetic, are unable to form a patina.
Caring for Vegan Leather
Care will differ depending on whether or not the leather alternative is plastic or plant-based. For plastic-based and plant-based alternatives, care is as simple as using a damp cloth. Be sure to always follow manufacturer labels.
Any leather lovers know that real leather is able to be conditioned, a care technique that drastically improves the look of real leather and helps it stay hydrated over time. Faux leathers, though not as porous as real leather, are still able to be conditioned in the same way. Also as with real leather, exposure to extreme environments is never recommended as they can become dry, and crack over time.
If your faux leather is in need of conditioning, there are some products designed to help with this. Vinyl conditioner can be applied to plastic-based leather products to help them achieve a softer feel. We highly recommend spot testing any of these products before use as not all products are designed equally.
Is Vegan Leather Good for the Environment?
The answer is complicated and, overall, it depends. Several factors must be considered such as animal welfare, waste, water usage, and biodegradability of the product. While the meat industry as a whole is generally not considered sustainable, sustainable practices in leather production do exist.
At SENREVE, our leather products are derived as by-products from food production, from materials that would otherwise go to waste. By creating high-quality products, we ensure durability, longevity, and biodegradability. Our vegan leathers are also sustainably, and we’ve made every effort to ensure that both our real leather and vegan leathers meet both our quality standards in terms of materials and durability, as well our commitments toward sustainable fashion.
Vegan leather is a great alternative for those who are looking for animal-free products. Not all faux leather is made equally, and just like with any other purchase, research into the material and manufacturing process is important when sustainability and eco-friendliness are considerations in your purchase decision. On the other hand, if you are more passionate about reducing plastics and fossil fuel use, going with real leather would be a better option.
Whatever decision you make, being informed and conscious of the environment will help guide you in the right direction.