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What is Vegan leather made of

What is Vegan leather made of

What Is Vegan Leather made of

Vegan leather is also known as synthetic leather or PU Leather. While real leather is made from animal hide, vegan leather is made from either plastic-based materials or nature-based materials. Although vegan leather, looks similar to genuine leather, it is so much different than the latter.

In the succeeding sections, we will be discussing why people buy vegan leather, what materials are used to make them, and how to take care of vegan leather.

What is vegan leather
What Is Vegan Leather

Why people buy Vegan leather?

Most people would prefer real leather over vegan leather. Nevertheless, some people still use vegan leather for the following reasons:

  • Lifestyle Choice. For some people, it’s part of their lifestyle choice due to ethical or animal welfare reasons. Also, some people think it is better to live a chemical-free lifestyle as a vegan.
  • Impact on the Environment. Some people are concerned with the environmental impacts associated with the animal slaughtering and harmful tanning processes. However, it should be noted that most production methods related to Vegan leather, especially those using plastics, actually are MORE harmful to the environment than using normal leather production methods combined with vegetable tanning.

A lot of people switch to vegan leather for the reasons stated above. Since vegan leather is NOT made from animal hide, plastic-based or nature-based materials are used as alternatives. What are the examples of these materials?

What are the materials used for Vegan Leather?

The materials used for vegan leather could either be plastic-based or nature-based. The most common plastic-based materials used include Polyvinyl Chloride(PVC) and Polyurethane (PU). On the other hand, nature-based materials include cork, paper, waxed cotton, apple, Pinatex, Mushroom, grapes, coffee, or agave.

Plastic Based Materials


Polyurethane is a polymer that can be made upon the order of a designer. It can sparkle, have a nice glossy look, or be saturated in all colors and shades. PU leather consists of a split leather backing, topped with Polyurethane coating that gives the fabric a finish and flexibility similar to natural leather.

The following are some of the differences of a PU leather from real leather:

  • PU has fewer layers under its coating.
  • The former is more pliable and flexible.
  • PU leather is more breathable due to more pores on its layer.

Poly Vinyl Chloride(PVC)

PVC leather is made from fabric leather backing, topped with a foam layer, skin layer, and a plastic-based surface coating.

  • PVC has more layers under its coating.
  • It is tougher and more durable.
  • PU leather is less breathable, because of its foam leather

Nature-Based Materials

Nature-based materials are obtained from fruits, plant materials, food waste, cork, waxed or glazed cotton, and paper, and a lot more!


Cork is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly materials for the production of nature-based vegan leather. It's easily recycled and completely natural. Furthermore, its water-resistant quality enables it to be used in making umbrellas.


Washi is a kind of paper made from a Japanese tree known as a Kozo tree. Its leaves and bark are converted into a delicate paper which s eventually transformed into vegan leather.

Waxed Cotton

It is an organic raw material for leather alternatives. The material is pliable and waterproof. Furthermore, unlike leather, it can easily be washed!

Apple Leather

Surprising, huh? It is a cruelty-free, cheap, and eco-friendly alternative to animal hide in making leather.


Pinatex is derived from pineapples.


Mushrooms can easily be grown in a certain way that would fit the desired quantity and quality to make vegan leather.


This is obtained from grape peels and grape seeds. In fact, most famous vegan companies sell items that are derived from grape leather.

Coffee Leather

Coffee leather might sound weird, but it does exist! Some sneaker brands use coffee as a material for the shoes you wear every day. However, it can give different textures.

Agave Leather

The agave plant, also known as Hana Plant, is grown widely in Sri Lanka. Artisans create fine fibers using the plant’s thick leaves. Subsequently, these fine fibers are woven into leather accessories.

How to take care of Vegan Leather?

Do not keep it under the Sun

You need to avoid leaving your leather products under direct sunlight for hours to prevent it from damaging. Vegan leather has no porous surface. Therefore, if it's left too long under the sun, it can easily dry and get damaged. This can lead to vegan leather peeling and cracking.

Use a protective dust cover

Never forget to protect your clothes and accessories by storing them in a wardrobe. Use protective dust bags to make sure that your items are safe and not prone to damage easily.


A good leather conditioner can be used to soften your faux leather bags or other fabric items. A good leather conditioner can prevent the water from penetrating the material. If you are not sure about the kind of leather you have, always ask your individual product care instructor.


Is Vegan leather waterproof?

Yes, most vegan leathers are waterproof. Since some vegan leathers are made from plastic-based materials, they do not absorb water easily.

How durable is Vegan leather?

It is durable but not as durable as real leather. The former is usually thinner than the latter so it tears easily.

What does Vegan leather look like?

It looks similar to authentic leather, but it has a less porous surface than genuine leather. Also, vegan leather does do not form a patina, which is common in genuine leather.

Is Vegan leather cheaper?

YES. The plastic-based materials like the Polyurethane (PU) & Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) are cheaper than genuine leather. Nature-based materials can be more expensive than plastic-based material, but nevertheless relatively cheaper than genuine leather. However, in most cases Vegan Leather does not last nearly as long normal Full Grain Leather

What does Vegan leather smell like?

It is made from PVC or PU, so it often has a very strange smell from chemicals. It is often described as a fishy smell and can be very hard to get rid of without damaging the material. Furthermore, PVC can also outgas dangerous toxins that give off this nasty smell.

Vegan leather can be an alternative to genuine leather. But nothing beats the timeless beauty and elegance of genuine leather! Vegan Leather, especially those made of plastics, tend to tear, rip, and peel quite quickly. For genuine Crazy Horse Leather products, visit Steel Horse Leather.
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