There are dozens of leather alternatives, but only some are eco friendly. While all vegan leathers protect the rights of animals, only eco-friendly vegan leather can be trusted as a sustainable and ethical alternative to old school leather.
With so many options, it’s important to distinguish between vegan leather alternatives that just check boxes and those that go all the way in their commitment to being 100% earth-friendly and sustainable.
Here is a list of the 7 cutest and most believable eco friendly vegan leather alternatives, all made with animal-free ‘leather’ and recycled materials, to help you figure out what is an alternative to vegan leather that looks just as good as the real thing.
1. Piñatex Leather
Made from the unused parts of pineapple trees, Piñatex pineapple leather is 100% vegan, completely eco friendly and ethical because it allows pineapple farmers to sell a previously unusable part of their crop for an income. The durable plant based leather feels just like animal leather, and Piñatex is waterproof and protective. There’s no need to sacrifice style for ethics–just look at this handcrafted piñatex pineapple leather bold statement-making heart bag by HOZEN.
2. Vegan Cork Leather
Recycled cork creates a distinct fabric that doesn’t come quite as close to mimicking leather as some of the other materials on this list. Even though it’s an unconventional eco-friendly vegan leather, it makes the list because of the amazing brands it’s inspired. Take, for example, the sustainable and animal loving brand Arsayo (a combination of the founding siblings’ first names) who have been making beautiful cork backpacks that are 100% cruelty free and great for the environment.
3. Mushroom Leather
People are trading hamburgers for portabello burgers and animal skin for the much more eco-conscious mushroom leather. This recycled plant based leather can be grown in any shape or size needed. It’s biodegradable and completely eco-friendly. Tests show that mushroom eco friendly leather alternatives outperforms leather in strength and matches leather in durability and appearance. On top of all that, its earthy tone makes it an elegant choice for chic handbags or classic boho-chic sandals.
4. Leaf Leather
Leaf Leather is made from sustainably harvested Teak leaves woven with fabric and sealed to preserve the organic beauty of nature. If you are still trying to find a favorite vegan leather, this is a unique and totally eco friendly leather alternative. Using a traditional technique used across Asia to waterproof roofs and furniture, this plant based leather can be used to craft everything from Handmade leaf leather wallets to large tote bags.
5. Grain-based Leather
This Italian made grain-based eco-friendly vegan leather, made with Biopolyoil, has that classic leather look without any of the ethical baggage. Animal skin is put to shame by this plant based leather and it’s an amazing alternative to other vegan leather products because it cuts gallons of water out of the manufacturing process. Versatile and functional, this Onyx circle belt bag from HOZEN is a must have.
6. Recycled Bottles
Another sustainable, innovative eco-friendly vegan leather that is not just stylish, but good for the planet, is made from—believe it or not—recycled plastic bottles. Once broken down into plastic flakes, a water-proof and lightweight polyester fiber creates 100% recycled plastic leather. The sneaker company VEJA is using it to make innovative and future thinking streetwear.
7. Cactus Leather
Desserto, a company based in Mexico, debuted the first ever cactus plant based leather in 2019. The newest eco friendly leather alternative uses nopal cactus leaves to make a believable and completely sustainable faux leather. Because this versatile material is soft enough to be used for furniture but hearty enough for a trusted handbag, it got everyone talking, and even scored the company a featured place in Vogue Australia’s review of RawAssembly—a conference on sustainable fashion.
If you are still trying to figure out what is an alternative to vegan leather that might fit your style, don’t worry: this list is just the tip of the iceberg!
More and more eco friendly vegan leather alternatives are being invented, invested in, and used by fashion-forward brands all the time. It’s never been easier, or more fun, to be eco-conscious.