On Wikipedia, it states both vegan and faux leather are artificial leather that do not come from animals. Vegan leather is made from cork leather, ocean leather, mushroom leather, or Piñatex. Cork leather is a natural alternative made from the bark of cork oak trees. Ocean leather is a type of leather made from kelp. Mushroom leather is highly versatile and a durable leather that is an alternative from Mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi consisting of a network of fine filaments, or hyphae. Piñatex is a type of leather made from pineapple leaves. However faux leather is made from poromeric imitation leather, or leatherette. Poromeric imitation leather is a group of synthetic “breathable” leather substitutes made from a plastic coating (usually a polyurethane) on a fibrous base layer (typically a polyester). Leatherette is a form of artificial leather, usually made by covering a fabric base with plastic. The fabric can be made of a natural or a synthetic fibre which is then covered with a soft PVC layer.
However, which one is better to wear? In terms of causing the least amount of environmental pollution, vegan leather is the best. By Cork & Fashion, animal leather puts in danger to both workers and animals. For example, Kanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, is famous for its leather industry, with nearly 400 tanneries housed in the suburbs of Jajmau alone. The industry has become a bane for the Ganga as it contaminates it severely with a heavy load of toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as chromium, cadmium, lead, arsenic and cobalt, all of which have severe health implications. Because of these chemicals, there has been a significant increase in cancer, blindness, skin diseases, and children born with a mental illness and undeveloped body parts. Also, animals are mistreated such as being skinned alive, causing a slow and painful death.
According to the 2014 studies from the Science journal, plastic leather businesses also pose as a big threat to oceans and food chains, due to more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans. Also, plastic production produces dangerous chemicals, such as dioxins, which are released to the environment. The production of plastics used to make non-natural vegan goods releases highly toxic dioxins. They can cause cancer and many other serious health problems.
In contrast to plastic leather, according to Cork & Fashion, cork leather is 100% natural. It contains no chemicals and is an eco-friendly material made from the bark of an oak tree. As a textile, it stands out thanks to its high-durability and unique look. Due to its features such as being waterproof, stain resistant, and easy maintenance, it is a perfect alternative to animal leather. Another alternative to plastic leather is Piñatex. According to Piñatex™, Piñatex is a 100% natural leather alternative made from cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves. Because Piñatex is produced from a waste product, it requires no additional land, water, pesticides or fertilizers. It also avoids the use of toxic chemicals and heavy metals used in animal leather production. Also, it avoids waste buildup caused by animal skin. Another natural alternative to plastic leather is mycelium. According to MycoWorks, Mycelium is a leather-like material made from mushrooms. Mycelium can easily thrive on agricultural waste, such as sawdust or nut shells. As the mycelium network grows, natural polymers are formed to create a durable sheet similar to leather. In addition to mycelium, ocean leather is another natural leather alternative. According to SeaCell®, in order to make ocean leather, kelp seaweed is mixed with cellulose to produce a material that looks and feels like leather. Since kelp is such an abundant and sustainable resource, ocean leather is an ecologically sound choice, and may even offer health benefits due to the vitamin E and other nutrients found in kelp that can be absorbed by the wearer’s skin.
Although there are numerous vegan leather options, there are only a small portion of leather businesses that produce these natural alternatives. However, many top designers such as Jimmy Choo, Chloe, Calvin Klein, Prada, Stella McCartney, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Christian Louboutin, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana have started to produce their products using vegan leather. Soon, vegan leather may become as popular as faux leather.
/* Be aware that some manufacturers claim that they utilize vegan leather, but that may not be genuine vegan leathers like cork leather, ocean leather, mushroom leather, or Piñatex. They may use eco friendly faux leather which cotton is coated with vegan materials.*/