The More You Know: What Is Vegan Leather?

More than one billion animals are slaughtered annually with their skin being turned into shoes, bags, jackets, wallets, furniture, belts and more.

Do you love the look of genuine leather, but hate the practice behind it? If so, vegan leather is an ideal alternative for you.

Looking and feeling like the real thing but 100% vegan, cruelty-free and sustainable, our high-quality products are designed to last. Just what is vegan leather?

Read on to learn everything you need to know.

Understanding the Global Leather Industry

While some claim that the leather industry is simply a by-product of the meat industry, this is not the case. Leather is not sourced strictly from cows, nor is it simply made from slaughterhouse leftovers that would go to "waste" if left unused.

In addition to cows, animals tortured and killed for this purpose include pigs, horses, ostriches, crocodiles, snakes, emus, seals, deer, fish, sheep, cats and dogs, among others. As there is currently no requirement to label leather products, it's impossible to know which animal skin your new jacket is made from, or even where it came from.

Not only is this practice inhumane, but it's also wreaking havoc on the environment. Research shows that nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to animal agriculture. It's also consuming a majority of our natural resources, claiming 70% of agricultural land and leading to a myriad of issues including biodiversity loss, deforestation and water pollution. 

Also, the process of tanning leather, which involves using strong chemicals to prevent decomposition, can be dangerous for both tannery workers and the environment.

Thankfully, there's a workaround. Enter vegan leather.

What is Vegan Leather?

Both chic and eco-friendly, vegan leather is most commonly made from a polymer known as polyurethane (PU). It can also be made from ultra-microfiber, as well as other sustainable materials including cork, fruit peels and even pineapple leaves.

The result is a material that mimics leather without the use of animal skins.

Polyurethane Leather vs. Polyvinyl Chloride Leather

There are two primary kinds of synthetic, vegan leathers: PU leather and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) leather (also called vinyl). While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are very different in a variety of ways.

First, let's discuss their structural differences. 

PU leather contains a base material, which is usually made of polyester, cotton, rayon or nylon. The base material is then topped with a coat of 100% polyurethane that gives it a shiny, flexible finish akin to natural leather. To finish the look, a roller is applied, creating an artificial grain pattern that looks as uniform and authentic as genuine leather. 

Conversely, PVC leather contains a similar base material. Yet, that's where the likeness to PU leather stops.

Instead of polyurethane, PVC leather is topped with additional layers that include:

  • Polyvinyl chloride
  • Stabilizers (for protection)
  • Plasticizers (for softness)
  • Lubricants (for flexibility)

All of these fillers can be altered to give the leather a specific texture, shape, colour and effect. 

Thus, PVC has more layers beneath its coating, while PU leather has fewer, making it more pliable and easier to work with. In addition, this also makes PU leather more lightweight and breathable than PVC varieties.

The Environmental Impact of PVC Leather vs. PU Leather

While PVC leather might be the cheaper and more accessible option of the two, think twice before you buy. The production of PVC leather requires the release of dangerous environmental pollutants known as dioxins. What's more, it also uses highly toxic chlorine, which is known to cause a variety of damaging health effects, as well as environmental harm.

On the other hand, while you might pay a little more to invest in PU leather, the investment is far worth it. This synthetic polymer is easy to manipulate, elastic, and a closer imitation to the real thing than you'll find with PVC leather. Both the production and after-care of PU leather are greener alternatives to the practices used to create and maintain PVC leather. 

The best part? It's also gentler on the environment, eliminating the need for highly toxic chemical plasticizers that could present harm to both workers and the Earth. 


At Eurthlin, our materials are carefully selected, cruelty-free, PETA-Approved Vegan and registered with The Vegan Society. We only use vegan materials, free of animal derivatives. These include:

  • Our water-resistant, glossy, signature printed Saffiano textured PU
  • Ultra-microfiber, high-quality grade, synthetic vegan leather - This faux leather is soft, supple, strikingly similar to real leather and is cherished as one of the best leather alternatives in the world
  • GOTS-certified organic cotton for our linings which is made from natural seeds without the use of pesticide or other harmful chemicals
  • Dustbags made from recycled plastic bottles (rPET)
  • Home compostable mailer pouches for shipping

While synthetic leathers may not be the perfect sustainable solution, they are less harmful to the planet than cow leather (according to the 2017 Pulse of The Fashion Industry Report from the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.) We also use the least environmentally harmful materials in our designs. This means you will not find any PVC in our pieces.

We also believe in progress over perfection. So we are always actively looking for new sustainable material technologies to use in new collections and designs to reduce our impact on the planet.

    Animal agriculture is unsustainable long-term, Eurthlin is empowering consumers to make a difference by moving away from the problem and choosing to be the solution.

     Buy Vegan Leather, Make a Difference

    There's no denying that leather goods are both beautiful and classic. However, modern innovation has made it possible to achieve the look of real leather without all the cruelty to animals. Now you know what vegan leather is, it might soon become your new favourite material.

    Animal-free fashion is more on point than ever before, with many brands choosing to follow in the footsteps of ethical designers such as Stella McCartney, who uses vegan leather instead of animal leather in her designs.

    If you want to live more ethically and sustainably, but don’t want to give up on luxurious looks and quality you have grown to love, we are here to help bridge that gap for you.  

    Whether you prefer a practical crossbody, a statement-making tote, or a multi-functional pouch, we have the perfect design for you, all in the supple, soft vegan leather you've come to adore, complete with our Earth-inspired signature print.

    Need another reason to buy? For every purchase made, we will plant one tree in the Amazon to aid in reforestation efforts. This is an extension of our eco-friendly initiative and dedication to global sustainability. We also give back by donating to local animal shelters because, well, we love animals! Feel free to look around our shop and contact us if you have any questions. The journey to a kinder, more environmentally-conscious future could begin with you.

    Leave a comment

    All comments are moderated before being published