What is Vegan Leather?

November 7th, 2012 | Tips and Quips

As the demand for animal-friendly products grows, there has been an emergence of handbags claiming to be made of “vegan leather.” This seemingly paradoxical phrase usually indicates a material free of animal products but with a similar look and feel to real leather. Vegan leather is an animal-friendly leather alternative which combines Vegetan, PVC, Lorica, Birko-Flor, Birkibuc and Kydex to create a material that looks and feels very much the same as authentic leather. Most people are familiar with PVC as it is commonly used for piping and other household products. Vegetan is a microfiber designed as an animal safe leather substitute. Kydex, Birkibuc, and Birko-Flor are manufactured acrylic/PVC alloys.

But just because vegan leather is animal friendly, it’s doesn’t mean it’s environmentally friendly. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has dubbed Phthalates, an industrial chemical used in the production of PVC, as an air and water pollutant. It is believed to possibly cause several health risks and symptoms if regularly exposed. PVC also contains several other environmentally non-friendly industrial chemicals, even though it is all a common product on our everyday lives.
Eco-friendly pursesEco-friendly purses

Depending upon the brand of eco-friendly purses, the prices of vegan leather are generally cheaper than real leather. One such brand is English Retreads, which has designer vegan leather purses for often less than half of the price of similar handbags made of genuine leather. A few high-end designers like Stella McCartney however, make handbags exclusively of non-leather products but charge prices comparable to those of leather bags. Another company whose handbags are free of animal products is Matt & Nat, who make their handbags using eco/recycled/upcycled materials. Of course, finding the best deals on animal friendly leather substitute handbags requires some price hunting. As the trend of Vegan-leather grows, so will the savings and deals. In any case, for animal lovers, animal free fashion holds a value more significant than monetary- peace of mind.

If searching for eco-friendly purses that are alternatives to vegan leather, the word to look for is Faux leather. One new handbag line from Cri de Coeur, (French for “cry from the heart”), has stepped up to make eco-friendly and ethically produced handbags. These handbags are made of a composite of polyurethane faux leather and recycled ultra suede, with an organic cotton in lining. As the use of PVC is absent in the manufacturing of these purses, they are much less harmful to the environment.

In the end, the planet’s future hangs upon the decisions of today. Luckily, there are animal-friendly and eco-friendly choices that don’t require a sacrifice of style.


  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.siqueiros Sharon Siqueiros

    Thanks so much for clarifying this. Here I thought they were the same thing. I also thought since it’s “vegan leather” it would be eco-friendly, guess that’s what I get for thinkin’ hahaha
    Again thanks for the great post!!

  • Melissa49

    Great information, excellent post thank you!