What is Vegan Leather and How is it Made?

Vegan leather is the non-animal analog for real leather. It is a synthetical composite that copies the structure of real leather with no tangents to killing animals.

The popularity of vegan leather is increasing annually, making up 32% of the footwear market in 2020 compared to only 16% in 2017 according to Edited.com, and major brands are more and more interested in the usage of this new material. In this article you will find out everything you need about vegan leather and what is it made of.

How is Vegan Leather Made?

Most vegan-leather buyers wonder how vegan leather is made. Here are some modern and classic techniques used to make vegan leather.


Pleather, or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is one of the most widely used synthetic materials in the fashion industry and is usually the leather substitute you’ll find on the high street. It’s close in looks to leather, and its cost production is low. Sounds good, right? Though it’s worth noting, that because it’s plastic-based, it’s not the most environmentally friendly option on the list.


There are some great innovators out there who are making biodegradable plant-based leathers from natural materials including cacti, pineapples, mushrooms, and corn! At the moment you’ll generally just see them in high-end stores. This is because they’re pricier to produce than their plastic counterparts, but we’re hoping they become more affordable and widely used soon.


The clever people at Modern Meadow, have come up with a material called bioleather. They edit the DNA of yeast to enable it to grow collagen. This is the protein in animal skin. After multiplying this they are able to make a liquid leather that they can then form into any shape without having to cut and stitch.

Is Vegan Leather Better Than the “Real Deal”?

Vegan leather is almost as durable as real leather. However, every material has its advantages and disadvantages, and I must talk about every one of them in order to make you understand what material is the best.


Vegan leather is, unfortunately, not as durable as its animal-based analog. Vegan leather boots will last from 5 to 7 years, whereas their real leather analog will serve you 10+ years without any problems. This phenomenon is caused partly because the materials used to manufacture vegan leather are not as durable as real leather.

Another thing that causes the lack of durability for vegan leather is the fact that most people, being used to the real leather, don’t know how to properly take care after its vegan analog, and the leather, of course, doesn’t resist the temperature, pressure, and humidity without proper care.


Most people say that real leather is more breathable than synthetical. However, my experience says that synthetic leather is a lot more breathable than real leather, and there are a lot of reasons that indicate that.

First of all, the structure of real leather is a lot thicker and tight, whereas the synthetical leather is not as tight hence, the air comes in and out a lot easier. Another reason that ensures great breathability is the fact that all in all, synthetic materials are more breathable than natural ones and that is a scientifical fact.


Although real leather is pretty waterproof, it isn’t completely rejecting the water molecules. If you have ever had a pair of real leather boots you have observed the phenomenon when, after a period of time under the rain, you feel your feet a little moist. That is because real leather let’s water in but slowly.

On the contrary, there are types of vegan leather that are completely waterproof and don’t let the water in no matter the pressure or the amount of water.

Vegan Leather Price

Undoubtedly, even the most qualitative and expensive vegan leather will be cheaper than real leather and there are a lot of reasons that cause this gap in price.

First of all, real leather is a lot harder to obtain and truly qualitative real leather can be processed for weeks. On the contrary, vegan leather is very cheap and relatively easy to obtain, especially in comparison to real leather.

Another reason is the fact that the raw materials for real leather are expensive and hard to obtain. Killing cows is not an easy job. However, the raw materials for vegan leather are synthetical and can be obtained from different types of chemicals.

Is Vegan Leather Good for the Environment?

No, vegan leather is not good for the environment. The usage of chemicals and toxic glue in order to avoid animal-based products has a direct impact on the biosphere, making it more pollute and less livable for future generations. However, there are some advantages of vegan leather that can reduce that impact.

Firstly, the quality of vegan leather is in continuous increase, therefore, in a few years, vegan leather will be durable enough to last 10-15 years. That is how we’ll decrease the usage of plastic and other chemicals to produce boots and other vegan leather products.

Another great advantage of vegan leather is the fact that it is recyclable. It means that, if you have worn a pair of boots for 10+ years and they are worn out completely, you can recycle them and buy a new pair without making the situation worse.

What Does Vegan Leather Look Like?

Due to its synthetical materials and artificial production, vegan leather can repeat almost every existing pattern in the wild world. More often vegan leather tries to copy the patterns from the most common real leather, cow.

Also, the fact that every calendar year brings newer technologies gives manufacturers the possibility to recreate almost every pattern in a way that nobody will notice the difference between actual leather and vegan leather.

What Does Vegan Leather Smell Like?

In the past few years, vegan leather has started smelling like usual leather or has almost no scent. However, it wasn’t always the case. The first products made of vegan leather were smelling like chemicals and no perfume or deodorant could have masked that terrible smell.

With time, the formulas to manufacture leather have improved and now we don’t smell that terrible scent on vegan leather products anymore.

Examples of products made from vegan leather

Dr. Martens Vegan Fashion Boots

Dr. Martens Vegan Fashion Boots are 100% synthetic. The Goodyear welt stitching and good abrasion resistance ensure you the best longevity on the market. Another great perk of these boots is their slip resistance and partial waterproofness.

LXY Vegan Leather Backpack

This fashionable vintage backpack is made completely from brown faux leather. Spacious and comfortable, it won’t let your laptop and other things press on your shoulder due to its amazing ergonomics.

Tree of Life Journal

Elegant and fashionable, Tree of Life Journal will keep all your sketches and drawings locked. It contains 176 writing pages for your reflections, creative writing, and other special things. More important, its hardcover is padded with high-quality vegan leather, smooth and fine, the best on the market.

EdgeMod Tremaine Drafting Chair

The best chair for comfortable office work, EdgeMod Tremaine Drafting Chair is one of the most popular chairs padded with completely vegan leather. It has an adjustable seat and footrest height and is very simple to assembly.

Final thoughts

Vegan leather is, perhaps, one of the most important inventions of humanity. Not only does it let us make leather goods without killing and torturing animals but also it develops more and more high-valued qualities such as durability, breathability a lot more, abilities that help humankind in its development.






The founder of this site and the man whose idea was used to write the first article on it. Before establishing topveganchoice.com, Brandon was an activist and a regular participant of many legal meetings that pleaded against cruelty and inhumanity in many businesses