Leather, a timeless material that has been used since primitive days to construct clothing and armoury for protection. We’ve come a long way since then and thankfully some of us now have Neighbourhood Watch and the necessary resources to create textiles and materials that look identical to leather with no animals being harmed in the process! The world finally seems to be firmly condemning the use of leather, with amazing global efforts to produce leather alternatives from a variety of materials. Even big names such as Mercedes Benz are in the works to ditch the material in their vehicles in favour of vegan leather.
Currently, the most widely-known leather alternative is artificial leather (or ‘pleather’), of course, but considering the fact that it is made from plastic and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), it is not environmentally friendly or sustainable. There are, however, so many others that are sustainable. From recycled tyres to tree bark, we’ve discovered some fascinating and unconventional leather alternatives to choose from and have compiled a list below.
Known for its durability and water-resistant properties, cork is a natural and recyclable leather alternative that provides you with a unique look and feel. Some of the world’s biggest fashion houses such as CHANEL and Louboutin have already dabbled in cork production and by the looks of it, seems to really be taking off.
2. Bark leather
This leather alternative made from tree bark is quite remarkable, or should I say, re-bark-able (I’ll stop). It can be used to create an array of items from bags to clothing due to its flexible nature.
3. Recycled tyres
This one sounds more believable, right? Recycled tyres offer the rubbery, leather-like texture and can seamlessly be fabricated into a wide variety of products. Plus, they’re recycled so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t get any better than that.
4. Apple leather
Okay, hear us out! Apple leather sounds like a bit of a stretch, but it’s rather amazing what the skin of this fruit can do when constructed into textiles. It seems an apple a day is doing a whole lot more than keeping the doctor away and we are here for it!
5. Wine leather
Perhaps even more of a shocking alternative, wine leather really is a thing. Made from winemaking by-products by an Italian company called Vegea, this type of leather is alluring with its red and purple hues resembling wine.
6. Mushroom Leather
Another unlikely hero of the food world, that some innovative human beings have turned into a suitable leather alternative, is mushroom leather or ‘MuSkin’ is “very stable, flexible and by far the most robust vegan leather type.”
7. Corn Leather
I swear I’m not just naming everything in our pantry here. Renowned footwear brand, Veja, sent waves through the fashion and eco-friendly industry alike when they created their vegan sneakers using corn leather earlier this year.
8. Cactus Leather
Organic, cruelty-free and just plain cool; cactus leather is the new kid on the eco-friendly fabric block. Pioneered by a Mexican brand called Desserto, this high-quality and sustainable brand sure is making us excited about the future of green living. Don’t be a prick, wear cactus leather!
9. Pineapple Leather
When they’re not too busy being the star of your fruit salad, pizza or gin cocktail (we get it), Pineapple leather is a “new plant-based textile, made from the waste of the pineapple harvest” due to the astounding strength of pineapple leaf fibres.
10. Coffee Leather
This one’s for all my fellow caffeine lovers out there. Coffee seems to be the gift that keeps on giving, and with German brand Nat-2 producing high-end vegan sneakers made from real coffee, we can definitely see why. A bonus? It smells like coffee too, so getting your quick fix has never been easier!
With a wide variety to choose from and considering the harm caused to animal life, there really is no reason to still be supporting the leather industry. We know, leather is considered one of those classic wardrobe essentials, but the destruction as a result simply isn’t worth it. Oh, and not to worry, you can still look like a total Tom-Cruise-in-Top-Gun-badass in eco-friendly leather too!