We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Vegan Leather?

By R. Bargar
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
BeautyAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At BeautyAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

For people who love the look and functionality of leather but are committed to a lifestyle prohibiting the use of animal products, vegan leather is an appropriate choice. Clothing, shoes, and fashion accessories made of artificial leather are produced and marketed as animal-friendly options. Upholstery, travel bags, laptop cases and other products can also be made using leather alternatives. This material is produced from synthetics without using any animal products and is also referred to as faux or artificial leather. There is no difference between most artificial and vegan leathers except for terminology.

Cruelty-free vegan clothing requires an artificial leather that is pliable and breathable. Early artificial products designed primarily for upholstery usually did not have these qualities. Additionally, some of the early formulations used animal leather powder with binders and were therefore not vegan. The most common modern forms are produced using synthetic materials sourced from petroleum. A variety of plastics and synthetic microfibers are used in the production of the various types of artificial leather.

One common type is made from a base of fabric coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). People concerned about the environment as well as animal welfare tend to avoid this form of synthetic leather, as it is not as environmentally friendly as other varieties. Polyurethane leather uses a different manufacturing process and is viewed as less harmful to the environment. This type of vegan leather is softer and more pliable than PVC-based leather, making it more comfortable to wear. Still other leathers are made using microfiber, a thin diameter polyester or nylon fiber.

Not all vegan leather is made completely from synthetic materials. Some is made from sustainably harvested cork, which may be combined with synthetic materials to make it more pliable and durable. Ocean leather is another form, and it produced from plant sources. Kelp or seaweed is used in the manufacture of this type of artificial leather. Neither of these leathers are as common as those made from petroleum products.

Many types of faux leather are visually indistinguishable from real leather and are used to produce coats, jackets, handbags, and shoes. Additionally, household products, such as upholstered furniture and accessories, are manufactured and marketed for those who avoid the use of animal products. Some vegans question whether faux leather is the best choice when there are natural fiber products that do not resemble leather available. They are also concerned about whether choosing artificial leather may encourage the wearing of real leather products.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon993923 — On Dec 30, 2015

I don't think this is very clear. PU is a material that has leather in it, I think.

If something is a form of plastic, why not call it by its name? After all vegan leather is an oxymoron.

By anon992860 — On Oct 07, 2015

So it's plastic. Call it what it is. Just call it what it is.

By anon990137 — On Apr 08, 2015

Does no one understand the impact of using petroleum? I guess we should just let all our domestic animals die of old age and bury them in landfills. In millions of years they might be petroleum too.

By anon985741 — On Jan 19, 2015

Animal lovers: Fake leather and fake fur still promotes the leather and fur industry! When people see you walking around in a beautiful fake fur coat or in gorgeous 'vegan leather' boots, it just encourages them to start shopping for fur coats and leather boots.

Better to walk around in clothes that are obviously and blatantly not made of fur or leather. Try cotton and wool!

By anon969751 — On Sep 12, 2014

In my day it was called pleather. We are the superior race. Just own it already.

By anon933603 — On Feb 16, 2014

Regarding any other thoughts about furniture or other products made from the pain and abuse of animals and their skin, as a vegan, I'm not asking anyone to get rid of something they already have.

I'm just asking everyone to make an informed decision going forward and know the facts, then decide if you must have the longest-lasting product or if sparing an animal's untenable suffering is the only reason you need to make a change.

Please don't believe the false propaganda spread by the greedy profit-mongering sycophants who will continue to make money on the backs of innocent animals without any concern for the torture they endure.

By anon933601 — On Feb 16, 2014

@anon330554: You are not a vegan. I have never seen such a transparent justification for having an animal-leather couch.

By anon330554 — On Apr 17, 2013

I'm a vegan and I always make sure to buy cruelty free, animal free products. I understand that vegan leather isn't always eco-friendly, but some do no harm to the environment and those are the ones that I choose to wear. The only real leather product I own is a leather couch. I didn't plan on buying it, but now that I have it, it is very durable and lasts a long time which I think is more efficient and environmentally friendly than having to buy multiple vegan leather couches and wasting resources.

By John57 — On Sep 18, 2012

I am not a vegan, but have several friends who are, and know this can be a pretty passionate topic. I have found much of the vegan clothing they purchase has a very nice look and feel to it.

If they feel better about buying products like this, I don't have any problem with it. I haven't purchased any vegan leather for myself, but wouldn't have any hesitation about doing so.

I have a really nice leather couch that I have no intention of getting rid of. While I wouldn't go out of my way to buy vegan leather, if it lasts as long as the real thing I think it would at least be worth looking into.

By honeybees — On Sep 17, 2012

I have a friend who is vegan and will not wear or buy anything made with real leather. She is very serious about this and will go out of her way to make sure she is not purchasing any kind of animal product.

She has vegan boots and a vegan leather jacket that she proudly wears and likes to explain to people the advantages of purchasing vegan leather.

I don't fully share her views and have some leather shoes and a leather purse that I am not ready to give up yet.

BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.