These days, everyone is going bananas over ethical fashion. So, whether it’s sustainable materials, the slow fashion boom, or finding suitable animal leather alternatives, most people are on a sustainable journey. And, because leather and fur have long been associated with luxury in the fashion industry, environmentalists and nature lovers have left no stone unturned in opting for what’s best for the planet.
Sustainable leather substitutes for animal leather
Many people believe that the only alternative to leather is fake leather, and we’re here to dispel that myth. With luxury brands like Versace, Prada, and Chanel only banning leather from exotic animals like snakes and crocodiles, now is the time to act.
So, today, we bring you twelve animal leather alternatives, aka sustainable leather options, that we hope will replace the leather in your wardrobe.
1. Piñatex leather
Piñatex is sustainable leather made from leftover pineapple bush parts that are 100% vegan and ethical. It is made of fibers from discarded pineapple leaves, creating a soft, flexible, and durable fabric. The sturdy and waterproof pineapple leather fabric has a similar feel to real cowhide leather. Farmers of pineapples now have yet another way to profit from their harvests, thanks to this vegan leather option. Pineapple leather is an innovative product that’s being regarded as one of the best animal leather alternatives.
2. Mushroom leather
Mushkin is another name for mushroom leather. Additionally, the manufacturing method used to create mushroom leather fabrics is sustainable and matches the circular economy’s concept well! Such alternatives to animal leather also eliminate the need for industrial animal agriculture primarily used for leather. Also, the waste produced during the mushroom-growing process can be regrown and used again. The resulting sustainable fabric is soft, waterproof, and lightweight. This sustainable leather is natural and biodegradable at the end of its life cycle, making it an even better leather alternative.
3. Waxed cotton and organic cotton
When it comes to animal leather alternatives, waxed cotton is a no-brainer. Traditionally used for bags and trousers, this fashionable material is rapidly gaining popularity and spreading to other clothing items. Waxed canvas or cotton is significantly easier to clean than animal leather and is also flexible and waterproof. This reduces the cost of dry cleaning and the potentially hazardous chemicals that go along with it. Waxed cotton is a popular leather alternative due to its breathability and washability, but not all of it is made from organic cotton. So, double-check that it is made of 100% cotton and soybean oil before you buy.
4. Teak leaves
Teak leaves are the new animal leather alternatives since they are lightweight, strong, and antibacterial. Several companies today use it to make their products as it is a unique cruelty-free option. Teak leaves are produced using a polymer to preserve the leaves into fiber sheets. In addition to being readily available, this animal leather alternative contains no dyes or anything toxic in the production process.
Related: Is Bamboo Fabric Really Sustainable?
5. Apple fibers
New animal leather alternatives that have recently entered the market have given the peels leftover from the apple juice-making process a second life. This by-product from the apple harvest is called apple fabric. Made from discarded apple skin and cores, apple sustainable leather looks similar to real leather but has a paper-like feel. In addition, the texture may be ideal for adding various backings, coatings, and effects to enhance the aesthetics of your garment.
6. Cork leather
We know you were waiting to see cork leather on this list of animal leather alternatives! The natural fiber for cork comes from cork oak trees. This sustainable leather alternative has witnessed significant growth as a cutting-edge fashion material. So, if you’ve been seeking a unique piece of leather that is both strong and durable, look no further. It is also weather-resistant, completely recyclable, light, resilient, and renewable. And by purchasing cork, you can help to avoid the extinction of countless endangered species that live in cork oak forests.
7. Recycled rubber
If you want sturdy leather accessories without animal cruelty, recycled rubber might be the way to go! It is a long-lasting and easy-to-care-for fabric that may take a long time to degrade; so get ready to use it forever! Through this fabric, you can give new life to objects like fire hoses and even tires. However, as all commercially available rubber does not come from rubber trees any longer, you should only look for authentic rubber fabrics.
8. Leather from the Hana plant
The Hana plant yields a fine fiber woven into accessories, replacing the leather usually used. These animal leather alternatives can easily take their place in items like handbags and wallets! In addition, artists use the thick leaves of the sustainable Hana plant to create yet another type of vegan leather.
9. Coconut fiber
We’d like to welcome coconut fabric, one of the best new animal leather alternatives. It is highly durable and closely resembles real leather while being entirely made from the waste products of the coconut industry. Apart from its durability, this sustainable fabric made of wastewater and natural fibers can also be composted. This, undoubtedly, makes it one of the best vegan leathers!
10. Tea vegetable leather
Tea vegetable leather is an entirely biodegradable fabric. This animal leather alternative is made from kombucha tea using a totally natural fermentation process. Despite some similarities to genuine leather, this alternative is more fragile and, unfortunately, not water-resistant.
11. Grape vegetable leather
“What is vegan leather, and what’s its closest alternative?” you may wonder. So here comes: grape vegetable leather, an Italian origin, made from winemaking waste using chemical processes. So, it is also referred to as wine leather and is one of the most sustainable leathers since it is exceptionally smooth, supple, stable, and recyclable. Additionally, no animals are harmed throughout the production process, and no animal products are used. It’s an excellent, adaptable product that can be used for clothing too.
12. Coolstone leather
Another vegan leather on our list is a relatively new material made from sewable slate stone. The cool stone leather actually looks and feels like paper combined with rock and has a matte grey finish. It is loved primarily for its look and feel on bags, belts, and jewelry. However, one of its finest features is how, with time, little scratches appear on it, giving the appearance of aged stone. So, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the material softens even further.
Which of these animal leather alternatives do you prefer? Let us know! But, remember, whichever one you choose, you’d be doing good by saying no to real leather.
For a more in-depth guide, read about animal vs. vegan leather.