Are you lusting after the newest dusty rose moto jacket gracing the shelves of your favorite boutique, but can’t justify buying the gem, knowing the potential ethical costs? Luckily for you, sustainable, faux leather is a rising star in the fashion industry and is an important player in the mindful consumerism movement. This animal-friendly sister of traditional leather is good for your wardrobe, good for your conscience, and good for all creatures, great and small. It’s clear that cruelty-free businesses have headed a widely welcomed shift in collective consciousness. We now have a seemingly never-ending list of items that are as humane as they are chic. From jackets to pants and shoes to purses, you can feel safe making faux leather a staple in your wardrobe.
What is faux leather?
If you’ve ever heard the term “faux leather” thrown around, then you’re likely familiar with imitation leather made from plastic—and let’s be honest, you may be a bit hesitant about it as well. Although “pleather” might ring a bell, don’t get the millennial-era staple confused with what’s trending today. Now the name of the game is faux leather, and it’s been getting serious play in the last few years from brands big and small; Stella McCartney is one of the biggest major brands laser focused on this form of cruelty-free sustainability. The leading material for faux leather in previous years was PVC. Thanks to some major reworking in the ’70s, polyurethane became the widely accepted leather alternative. But now our faux leather pieces feel like the real thing, if not better. Truth be told, though, polyurethane isn’t the most environmentally sustainable choice considering the details of its production. Many of the solvents polyurethane pieces require are highly toxic, and the product itself is incapable of biodegrading or being recycled. That said, any form of faux leather is arguably better than animal farming for something as impermanent and insignificant as pop culture’s aesthetic waves. While most brands still opt for 100 percent pure polyurethane as the chief component in their faux leather products, others focus on truly sustainable leather alternatives create their textiles from recycled nylon, cardboard, rubber, and cork. Each one boasts its own benefits, but all are valid alternatives to painfully produced cowhides. For our friends who are eager to support businesses that decrease our carbon footprint and eliminate animal harm, then the latter group of materials is for you.
The Brands to Look For
If you’re looking for high-quality pieces that are also kind to our furry friends, look no further than these eco-friendly brands.
The leather jacket: Is any wardrobe complete without one? Now you can get a cruelty-free one that looks and feels just like the real thing. Fauxgerty, based in St. Louis and Los Angeles, is rooted in mindfulness and consciousness. Every piece is cruelty (and PVC!) free and ethically made. Brand founder Chrissy Fogerty pays Fauxgerty sewers 36 percent over the regional average because she stands with and values those involved with the company’s mission. We’re torn between the vegan leather and suede Dolma and the faux suede Swazey, which comes in a stunning olive green. Might just need to get both.
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Jeane & Jax
Montreal-based luxury vegan brand Jeane & Jax has mastered the art of blending cruelty-free fashion, reasonable price points, and premium quality. We especially love the Chloe tassel bucket in ivory and the Maya perforated zip crossbody in coral.
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Matt & Nat
Matt & Nat’s pieces are some of the most consistently stylish ones on the market. For a modern take on another ’90s trend, try their Aki belt bag. Need something a little roomier? We like the Mini Fabi, which is perfect for on-the-go fashion.
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Even Dr. Martens has hopped on the vegan leather train. The ’90s staple remains relevant by creating their classic 1460s with 100 percent vegan construction; try the cherry red color for a modern twist. We’re always happy to recommend a good Chelsea boot, and you can’t go wrong with the Flora.