Article by Fashion for Good about leather and alternatives

Leather has always been sustainable fashion’s big debate. In recent years, more and more people have been shifting to “vegan leather” in an effort to be more sustainable. But does vegan mean better? Can conventional leather ever be sustainable? What if it’s secondhand? And what better alternatives are out there?

In its current state, the production of conventional animal leather is linked to some serious sustainability issues at each step of the supply chain — according to Sustainable Apparel Coalition, leather is considered the third most environmentally harmful material, requiring significant energy and toxic chemicals in its production.

But, mainstream “vegan leather” is not always a good sustainable alternative — it’s most often made from different types of plastic polymers, making it neither sustainable nor biodegradable.

However, there are natural, plant-based alternatives to leather slowly reaching the market, made from raw materials like mushrooms, fruit, agricultural and food waste, and even coconuts, that show the possibility of a more sustainable future for the industry. In our new exhibition, GROW: The Future of Fashion, you can learn more about these new materials and see them up close.

What do you think about the future of leather and its alternatives? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!


We should definitely want to get rid of animal leather asap and push the innovation of sustainable high quality natural materials asap!


Making leather sustainable is highly questionable, however we do need very good alternatives to truly make it a sustainable alternative.


As a long lasting bio based material made from a waste of the meat and dairy industry which offers highly versatility for different end uses leather is one of the most sustainable materials for the present and future. The supply will always remain small compared to consumer requirements but we should certainly use all that we can. The fossil fuel based alternates never have their origins calculated in, don’t last long, soon look dirty and cannot be repaired. Those who want an alternate on ethical grounds should look out for good bio based materials like Piñatex which comes from a B corporation and is honestly explained. But for beauty and utility, longevity and repair leather cannot be beaten.


It’s amazing to see how many creative alternatives to leather are coming up which production is less harmful to the planet, but the durability of leather is unfortunately still unbeaten!


Buy repurpose! Tons of vintage leather shops out there. But making more plastic isn’t the solution! ✌️



The plant based alternatives usually use polyester or nylon mesh and chemicals to adhere the pulp etc. hence not many of those brands are very transparent showing how and/or what they use. In my opinion.


Yea, a lot of vegan leather still has PU but this space is having lots of innovation coming




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