Vegan leather might sound like an oxymoron, but it’s actually one of the latest advances in sustainable fashion technology! It’s exactly what it sounds like: a synthetic leather that, instead of animal products, uses alternate materials to produce a similar fabric. Because of its animal-free status, it’s become a popular alternative for people who love the look and feel of leather but don’t love the process behind the real deal.
Not all vegan leathers are created equal, nor are they equally environmentally friendly. You’ve probably come across the term “pleather” before, short for “plastic leather,” which involves the layering of natural or synthetic fiber with polyvinyl chloride (aka PVC). While it’s an efficient and relatively affordable means of mass-producing a leather substitute, the plastics involved use up petroleum, can produce carcinogenic byproducts, and can pose long-term threats when they take a long time to degrade in landfills (especially compared to natural materials) or pollute the oceans with microplastics.
Still, vegan leather can have its environmental benefits. One creative director, Sandra Sandor of Nanushka, told Harper’s Bazaar in 2020 that vegan leather lowers the impact of land uses and greenhouse gas emissions associated with cattle and agriculture, a large contributing industry to climate change. For companies concerned about doing their part to reduce emissions, moving away from animal-based products is certainly a choice worth looking into.
Other brands look to processes like vegetable tanning to “green” the leather making process, rather than traditional, more toxic tanning chemicals. Similarly, some brands use leather alternatives that don’t involve such high amounts of heavily processed plastics: plant-based vegan leathers, cork materials, treated cotton, and other materials are options as well. There are even “leather” alternatives made from organic materials like apple peels! It’s all about finding the material that works for your product and your budget while also improving your environmental footprint, one way or another.
So what role can vegan leather play in your promotional products? The shift to a greener material can be a major marketing asset, and there’s a huge range of products available that can promote your brand and remind consumers of your eco-friendly business practices. Consider branded products such as:
• Vegan leather tote bags or backpacks
• Beautiful notebooks bound with vegan leather
• Pouches and coin purses made from vegan leather
• Vegan leather luggage tags
• Laptop or tablet covers made from vegan leather
• And much more!
Making the switch to vegan leather doesn’t mean you have to compromise at all on quality or creativity. In fact, there are plenty of vegan leather options that look and feel just as sturdy and luxurious as your favorite traditional leather products. Any number of these can work for your promotional products!
Not only can vegan leather make an actual difference, but it also can be a marketing benefit in and of itself. Customers are increasingly aware of companies’ stances on issues like environmental protection, and demonstrating a thoughtful approach to greener practices can improve your company’s public profile. Making a real impact while also making a marketing impact – sounds like a win-win!