Came across a vegan leather product and wondered what type of leather it is exactly?
Vegan leather has been on the market for quite some time and some people consider it a better choice than animal leather. But is it really so?
We discuss vegan leather, how it stands against animal leather and answer some commonly asked questions about it in this article.
What is vegan leather?
Vegan leather is made from artificial/synthetic and natural materials instead of animal skin. The synthetic materials include polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, and plastic, while natural materials include plants and organic materials such as cactus, apple peels, pineapple leaves, cork, fruit waste, mushroom, wine, to mention but a few.
Vegan leather is regarded as an imitation of real leather; in fact, many refer to it as Alternative or Faux Leather. However, despite all that, vegan leather has stood the test of time and has slowly become an authentic competition to real leather.
Apart from being cruelty-free, vegan leather is highly fashionable, versatile, affordable, easy to work with, and comes in various rich colors. And to top it all up, the quality of vegan leather is similar, if not nearly the same, like that of animal skin leather.
So choosing vegan leather is not you missing out on real leather; it's you still getting quality leather just from another source other than animals.
How is vegan leather made?
Vegan leather produced from synthetic materials is made by bonding plastic coating polyvinyl chloride(PVC) or polyurethane to a fabric backing.
Vegan leather produced from natural materials is made from plant-based or organic sources with a bit of plastic (PVC or PU). Depending on the organic material used, each process may be slightly different from the other.
What does vegan leather look like?
Good quality vegan leather looks the same as real leather. If both were to be put together, chances are high you wouldn’t tell them apart if you’re not an expert.
However, some do look more similar to real leather than others.
One way to tell the difference is that vegan leather doesn't form a patina like animal skin leather when it ages, and its pores on the pleather are artificial.
How long does vegan leather last?
Organic vegan leather lasts longer than synthetic vegan leather. However, overall, vegan leather has a lifespan of about two to five years. But, you can stretch the lifespan longer if you take good care of it.
How durable is vegan leather?
Vegan leather can last a long time if cared for properly. However, its durability rate is also dependent on the materials it is made from.
Polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) vegan leather materials can get cracks and scratches quickly, affecting their overall durability. When this happens, its quality usually starts to depreciate, and before you know it, becomes unusable.
Interestingly, organic vegan leather is quite durable, lasting nearly as long as real leather. It is firm and strong and can withstand rough situations without getting damaged. If handled well, this leather can actually last as long as animal skin leather.
Vegan leather vs. real leather
Real leather is leather that is made of animal skin. Both real and vegan leather are beautiful in their own right and each has its own pros and cons.
Vegan leather is affordable, manufactured in various colours, lighter, thinner, effortless to work with, and eco-friendly, if made with natural materials. However, it is not unique. Because it's manufactured, it's all uniform. Additionally, some are not as durable as real leather.
Real leather has an elegant texture and is unique because each animal skin offers its own texture and patterns, is more robust, and is usually longer-lasting. However, it is also quite expensive, heavier, and not eco-friendly as the leather tanning process pollutes the environment.
Thus, vegan and real leather are both excellent quality leathers. Choosing which leather to use or buy depends on a person's preference and taste.
Vegan leather vs. PU leather
PU leather is made by covering a fiber-polyester base with plastic polyurethane or polyurethane coating. Therefore, since it's not made from animal skin, it's actually considered a form of vegan leather.
PU leather is light, easy to use, and clean. It's the most affordable compared to other types of vegan leather because its production is inexpensive. Though on the downside, its production process is not environmentally friendly.
Besides this, PU leather is not as durable as other vegan leather types. It's easily damaged and needs to be cared for properly. Though easy to use, it's hard to blend PU leather with different textures. Additionally, the polyurethane coating which is supposed to keep it waterproof may wear off over time.
Compared to vegan leather made from natural materials, PU leather may be found wanting in some areas but nonetheless, has its own pros and can still be used to create great leather products.
How to clean vegan leather?
How you clean vegan leather is similar to how you would clean real leather. You can use wipes to gently rub over dirty or stained parts. There are vegan leather cleaning wipes on the market that you can use, though real leather cleaning wipes can do the job perfectly.
You can also use a little soap or detergent with water and a soft cloth to clean the leather. If the leather is heavily stained, use lukewarm water with soap or detergent. Talcum powder or cornstarch can also work for heavy stains.
Is vegan leather waterproof?
Vegan leather is waterproof, but depending on what vegan leather type you have. Organic material vegan leather repels water better than artificial material vegan leather.
How to repair vegan leather?
How you choose to repair vegan leather will depend on the damage and the leather item/product you are working with. Here are three ways you can repair vegan leather:
- Patch up the damaged areas - the most common way of repair is to patch the damaged areas with other pieces that are in good shape. The pieces should fit perfectly in the damaged area for the repair to look neat.
- Repair dye - you can apply repair dye to the damaged areas to hide the damages and make your item look as good as new. When using dye, you should make sure the dye color is the same as the item you're repairing.
- Liquid leather - Liquid leather works like dye but only applies to the damaged area. The liquid is used gently and evenly on the damaged site. Once applied, dry the item in a well-ventilated space away from direct sunlight.
Above all, taking care of your leather is an excellent way to minimize repairs and keep it in good shape. If the damage is beyond repair, it's advisable to replace the leather.
How to stretch vegan leather?
You can use a leather-stretching spray or conditioning oil to soften the leather and then stretch it out.
You can also apply heat to the leather to expand it slowly. However, do be careful to apply heat gently and evenly as not to damage the leather.
For vegan leather shoes, put in shoe stretchers or boot trees when you are not wearing them.
How to shrink vegan leather?
To shrink vegan leather, soak it in hot water until it's completely wet. Then, remove it and allow it to dry. It will most probably have shrunk by the time it's dry.
If you want it to dry faster, use a drying machine. The heat from the dryer will shrink the leather well.
Vegan leather shoes Singapore
There are a variety of vegan leather shoes available on the market in Singapore for both males and females, children and adults. However, one of the best places to purchase vegan leather shoes for babies in Singapore is at Two Little Feet.
Made from high-quality materials, Two Little Feet’s children’s shoes are designed with the comfort and safety of the active child in mind. Easy to clean with removable insoles and hassle-free to put on with adjustable straps, your child’s feet will be able to grow and develop comfortably in these shoes.
Vegan leather is becoming very popular in our fashion as a sustainable leather option. Designers and creatives are making more eco-friendly leather products of high quality with vegan leather - most especially the shoes. So you can join the movement and try out vegan leather today.