15 Things you Need to Know about Vegan Leather

Written by José Max Lin
Last updated
July 29, 2022

Vegan leather and faux leather are both types of fake "leather" that do not use animal skin. There's a range of materials used in making vegan/synthetic leather including plastics like PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or PU (Polyurethane).

More eco-friendly options such as Recycled PVB (Polyvinyl butyral) are revolutionizing the world. This material can be found from cars' windscreens to create environmentally friendly products without risking animal lives for fashion purposes!

It is also possible to make vegan products from natural materials like cactus leather, apple skin leather, pineapple leather, etc.

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1. How is vegan leather made?

Leather chemicals

Synthetic leather is often created through a bonding process that utilizes plastic coatings. The type and quality of the material used will determine if the faux leather can be considered eco-friendly.

Though PVC was once a popular material in the 60s and 70s, it has since fallen out of use due to environmental concerns. This includes its potential for releasing dioxins which can be dangerous in confined spaces or burnt together with phthalates that are extremely toxic depending on the type used (therefore having an impact even after manufacturing). Greenpeace is considered one most environmentally devastating plastics because they're so easily breakable down through natural processes like photo-oxidation over time without any human interference needed at all!

The most modern and slightly less damaging plastic is PU, which has been developed to reduce its flaws such as the hazardous toxins it releases during production. It also uses fossil fuels in place of oil-based polymers for some components that are not necessary when making products with more efficient materials like composite plastics or metal alloys.

2. What does vegan leather smell like?

Vegan/faux leather that is made with PVC or PU often has strange smells from the chemicals. Some people say it has a sweet smell, while others describe it as a 'fishy' smell which can be hard to get rid especially while trying not to ruin the material. PVC can also outgas dangerous toxins that give off this nasty smell. However, this smell usually disappears after a few days.

3. What does vegan leather look like?

You can get vegan leather in many different colors and textures, including smooth or pebbled, so some looks and feels more 'leather-like'. As we focus on good quality vegan leather, there is not much different from real leather. It's also made to look like different types of animal skin, such as alligators or snakeskin. However, as vegan leather is synthetic, it does not form a patina (the change in color that leather undergoes with age and use) and is less breathable as the pores are clogged with plastic.

4. Vegan versus real leather?

When it comes to choosing between vegan and real leather, most people are concerned with the impact that they have on animals. However, while some vegans may think their products environmentally-friendly (or at least less harmful), this isn't always true - especially when you compare them against alternatives like plastic or paper bags!

5. Is vegan leather good for the environment?

Good for environment

A well-known vegan leather is a faux leather, as the materials used are never from animal skins. Although manufacturing requires less water than leather, it is not beneficial to the environment due to its toxins in plastics. The manufacture and disposal of PVC-based synthetics let out hazardous dioxins, which can cause developmental issues. These same compounds are also known to cause cancer in humans! The vegan leathers used by many companies today do not fully biodegrade; they will break down but continue releasing toxic particles as well phthalates that affect animals' health or our environment's ecosystem at large (in addition).

6. Is vegan leather better than real leather?

Vegan leather is often a lot thinner than real and much more lightweight which makes it potentially easier to work with, but also means that it won't last nearly as long. A high-quality genuine animal skin will typically be able to withstand decades of wear when cared for properly; however, you might only get one or two years out if your shoes were made from good quality faux instead! Furthermore, fake leather has an environmental impact that is arguably more damaging than the purchase of one real item.

Unlike synthetic leathers, real animal skins age and form a patina over time. This is considered to add character to the surface of your favorite jacket or bag!

A major problem with faux leather, particularly PVC-based, is it doesn't breathe well; this means you'll be uncomfortable if it's worn for extended periods of time.

Some people might be put off by the idea that faux leather is cheaper than real, but it’s worth considering when you consider what kind of durability and quality your purchase will have. The craftsmanship required for making a sofa or jacket can cost thousands upon inception - not only in material costs. These prices are considered expensive as they are both high quality and highly durable.

7. Maintaining vegan leather

Waterproof vegan leather

Vegan leather is made with a plastic coating, so it’s already waterproof. This makes cleaning easy by using a mild detergent or just wiping the surface off after each use--no need for conditioning products! However, you should be aware that high temperatures can cause cracks in certain types of fake-leather material if left out during summertime hours and sunny days (and even some poor quality materials). However, there are certain products that cover the surface of the plastic and prevent it from high temperatures or sun rays. These will help soften the material by preventing cracking due to high temperatures in this instance!

8. How to repair vegan leather?

Leather cutting board

If a vegan leather product gets a small tear, you can try to fix it with some superglue. If the tear is bigger, or if you just don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, take it to a professional!

There are many ways of repairing vegan leather products such as sewing and patching up the surface. You could also use Faux Leather Repair Tape which is an adhesive tape that can be used to cover any tears or holes in faux-leather material quite easily (it's basically like duct tape but for vegan leather)!

Just make sure when looking for this type of repair tape that the adhesive doesn't contain any harmful toxins that will release into the environment over time.

9. Is vegan leather good quality?

The quality of vegan leather can depend on the materials used, how it's made, and where you purchase it from. There are high-quality vegan leather products that use better materials like polyurethane (PU) or Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which don't have as many harmful toxins. These types of vegan leather are often softer, more flexible, and breath better than their PVC counterparts--but they also come with a higher price tag.

On the other hand, you can find lower-quality vegan leather products made with cheaper materials like pleather or leatherette. These aren't as durable, don't last as long, and aren't as comfortable to wear--but they're often much more affordable!

10. How to unwrinkle vegan leather?

If you have a wrinkled vegan leather piece, there are a few ways to try and fix it. One is to use an iron--but be very careful as too much heat can damage the material! Another option is to spritz some water onto the garment and then put it in the freezer for a little while. The cold will help set the wrinkles and they should disappear when you take them out.

Another method is to use a blow dryer on a low heat setting. Point the dryer at the fabric and keep moving it around until the wrinkles dissipate. Make sure not to hold the dryer in one spot for too long or else you might end up damaging your faux-leather product!

11. How to shrink vegan leather?

  1. Wash the item in your washing machine on warm to clean off any contamination and prevent 'baking' into plastic material of pleather.
  2. Place the polyurethane item into an old pillowcase and tie off top with shoelace or string to prevent falling out. Make sure materials like this get hot enough so they won't stick onto dryer's drum; otherwise it'll damage jacket making mess!
  3. To dry your jacket, start by setting the dryer on high for one hour. Let it cool off and then test fit to make sure you have achieved maximum shrinkage before repeat use with increasingly shorter drying times as needed!

12. Can you stretch vegan leather?

Faux leather can be stretched, but not as real leather. You need to be careful not to overstretch it or you'll risk damaging the fake leather. So it's best to avoid it altogether.

13. Can you distress vegan leather?

Distressing faux leather is possible but you have to be careful not to overdo it. A little bit of distressing can give your vegan leather piece a more worn-in look, but too much and you'll end up ruining it. Try using a damp cloth to rub at the areas that you want to distress, or use sandpaper to create a rugged texture.

14. How to dye vegan leather?

You can dye faux leather but it's not as easy as dying real leather. There are a few things you need to take into consideration before dyeing your faux-leather product:

  1. vegan leather doesn't always absorb the dye evenly, so you might have to apply it several times in order to get the desired color
  2. the type of vegan leather that you're using can also affect how well the dye takes hold. Some materials like PVC or pleather are more difficult to dye than others
  3. always test the dye on a small patch of fabric first to make sure that it doesn't cause any adverse reactions and that the color is what you want.

15. How to soften vegan leather?

Unlike real leather, vegan leather is less permeable and therefore requires different conditioning to make it softer. Vinyl conditioner is typically recommended for faux-leather and should be applied with a soft cloth until there's no more liquid coming out before leaving the product to dry. It can be repeated this process multiple times until the desired result has been achieved.

HANDBAGIO product specialist
José Max Lin
I am product specialist and content marketing specialist for Handbagio. If you want to wholesale vegan handbags or vegan related products, feel free to ask me any questions.
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15 Things you Need to Know about Vegan Leather

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