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Vegan Leather vs. Traditional Leather – The Pros and Cons




Leather is a durable material that has been used for decades for making clothing, shoes, and much more. Its durability makes it ideal for making long-lasting items that can handle wear and use. However, in recent years there have been arguments against leather that center around environmental issues and animal rights. When it comes to leather products, for instance, many people often debate on whether traditional leather is better than vegan leather, or vice versa.


What is vegan leather?

Vegan leather or faux leather is any material that is made without using animal products. On the other hand, traditional leather is a byproduct of tanned animal products. Vegan leather is made from petroleum or plastic-based synthetics, although a few are made from natural products such as cork or even pineapple! If your primary concern is buying a product that resembles traditional leather but is not made from animal products, then vegan is the right option. While most people claim that using vegan leather is a better alternative to traditional leather, this is far from the truth. Traditional leather has been proven to be less harmful to the environment than vegan leather.


Is vegan leather better quality than traditional leather?

As vegan leather is a byproduct of plastic materials, it is virtually waterproof. It is easier to clean than traditional leather. You can wipe it using a moist cloth or clean it with a mild detergent. Unlike real leather, you can use conditioning products on vegan leather to make it dry up faster. Vegan leather is also a lot cheaper than real leather.

Since vegan leather is man-made, it can be useful in creating products of different colors or textures, from shiny to glitter infused-styles. Vegan leather has a high level of versatility, which makes it very useful for designers in the fashion industry. Because you can easily make vegan leather into any texture or color, it is ideal for creating personalized products according to customer preference.


Cons of using products made from vegan leather

While vegan leather is cheaper than traditional leather, it is usually of lower quality even when made at a high standard. Vegan is much less durable than traditional leather and is thinner, which makes it more vulnerable to wear and tear over time.

During the production process, vegan leather emits toxic carcinogens in the environment that can cause birth defects and breathing problems. On the other hand, since they don’t fully decompose like natural products, they can produce toxic microparticles that can harm aquatic life. Vegan leather also lacks the unique smell of real leather, which most customers usually prefer.


Pros of using traditional leather

One thing that makes traditional leather a favorite for many is its durability. Like quality wine, traditional leather gets better with age. As compared to vegan leather, it’s also less likely to crack or tear as it softens with age. Traditional leather is much more breathable than vegan leather.

Despite the common misconception that traditional leather is harmful to the environment, it is less toxic than vegan leather as most vegan leathers are a petroleum-based product. The other reason why traditional leather has less of an impact on the environment is due to its long life span. That means it’s less likely to end up in landfill compared to its cheaper, shorter-lived counterpart.

Traditional leather has a unique smell and texture you cannot find in synthetic products. The natural fading that may occur with age only adds to its look over time whereas a synthetic version might just look tackier.


Cons of using traditional leather

Real leather requires more maintenance than faux leather. It often tends to dry out faster and hence requires more care. This can easily be remedied with a good quality leather conditioning balm. On the other hand, real leather can easily stain when it comes into contact with oils or acid. Other things like ink stains can cause an unsightly mark but they can safely be removed with the proper care. You should keep it away from chemicals and prevent them from getting wet to avoid stains. Real leather is also much more costly than vegan leather. It also absorbs heat much more quickly and can fade when you expose it to direct sunlight.

Looking to buy a product and not sure if the product contains genuine leather? Buying leather products can be challenging these days as it is usually difficult to distinguish real leather from artificial leather. For that reason, you should find a trusted seller and remember to ask what type of leather was used to make the product. As a tip, real leather feels a bit rough while vegan leather feels more like plastic. There are also several different grades of leather to consider when making an investment. Quality pays off in the long run and the fewer consumer goods going into landfill, the better.

Lover of the written word, guacamole, TRAVEL with a capital everything, and her new coffee machine. An admirer of Galen Leather products, specifically, wallets and bags. Prefers slouchy pants & other people in moderation.