IS VEGAN LEATHER Real Leather?
When shopping for leather products, you might have noticed some of the items labeled as "vegan leather." Vegan leather is not some new, fancy product. Vegan leather is actually the same thing as faux leather — a leather product made from synthetic materials. Vegan leather is technically vegan — it doesn't contain animal products — but the name is mostly a marketing gimmick. Faux leather is vegan leather and vice versa. But name something vegan, and suddenly you get more consumers interested. Here's everything you need to know about vegan leather.
HOW VEGAN LEATHER is MADE
Vegan leather is usually made from a plastic base that is then combined with other chemicals to mimic real leather in feel and appearance. The plastic base in vegan leather is either PVC (polyvinyl chloride, a petroleum-based plastic) or PU (polyurethane). The PVC and PU vegan leather bases are mixed together and then added to a fabric or paper backing. While PVC and PU vegan leathers look the same, the main difference between the two is that PVC leather products tend to be a bit stiffer than PU leather products.
Plant-based vegan leather
Some vegan leather is plant-based. They usually contain between 30 to 80% of plant products. Plant-based vegan leather can be made from cactus, mushrooms, cork, pineapple and grapes. Of the plant-based varieties, mushroom leather is considered the most durable; grape leather the softest and smoothest.
WHAT DOES VEGAN LEATHER LOOK LIKE?
Vegan leather is smooth and uniform in appearance. While genuine leather products will form a patina over time because they are derived from real leather, vegan leather will not.
WHAT DOES VEGAN LEATHER SMELL LIKE?
Because vegan leather is made with chemicals and plastics, it can often have a strong, artificial odor. Some vegan leather products will have a genuine leather perfume added to them so that they smell more like genuine leather.
CARing FOR VEGAN LEATHER
Vegan leather is usually made from plastic, so it is naturally waterproof and easy to clean. Simply apply a small amount of Leather Honey Leather Cleaner to the vegan leather with a lint-free cloth. Wipe the vegan leather product down and then you're good to go. You do not need to condition vegan leather because it isn't absorbent and won't dry out like genuine leather.
IS VEGAN LEATHER AS GOOD AS REAL LEATHER?
Vegan leather is less durable than real or genuine leather. While vegan leather has its upsides — it is more affordable than real leather — it is usually not a wise investment. Real leather can last decades with proper care, while vegan leather products typically only last a few years.
The downsides of Vegan Leather
The main downside of vegan leather is that it is made of plastic and plastic is not biodegradable. Also, because of that plastic, vegan leather can often stand out as obviously not genuine leather. And speaking of genuine leather, here is how it stands up against vegan leather:
GENUINE LEATHER VS. VEGAN LEATHER
- Strong, natural odor
- Extremely durable when cared for correctly
- Can be quite costly
- Absorbs liquids, so it can stain rather easily
- Very soft to the touch
- Never uniform in appearance
- Can have an artificial odor
- Tends to degrade quickly, often lasting only a few years
- Doesn't absorb liquids
- Easy to clean
- More affordable than genuine leather
- Can be dyed in a variety of colors