Leather – Love it or Leave it?

In this post, I’ll be discussing modern leather alternatives and my journey to embrace them.

I was brought up to wear leather rather than leather substitutes and I understand why.  30 odd years ago, leather alternative clothing and accessories didn’t have a great reputation.  They usually didn’t last long, shoes were uncomfortable, and they weren’t as good as the “real deal.”  My parents were cost-conscious vegetarians and animal rights advocates, however, like most new parents, wanted to buy clothing that was the best for me.  They kitted me out in gorgeous sheepskin gloves and cute leather Mary-Janes.

Leather lasts.  Leather breaths. Leather is waterproof.  Over time, a leather shoe moulds to your foot’s shape.  Unfortunately, leather is made from a dead animal and, having been a vegetarian all my life, it doesn’t make sense for me to wear the skins of critters I don’t eat.

I still remember my first dalliance with a pleather bag.  Ten years ago, I bought a CHLOE imitation bag from PRIMANI (Primark) and after a week, the “leather” on the side against my body had sloughed off.  Rather than looking into better quality leather alternatives, I went back to my old “Genuine Leather” ways while muttering about throw-away fashion, wastage, and how my parents were right.   It’s only been over the last couple of years that I’ve started learning about modern leather alternatives.

Fast forward to 2016 and a few things have changed.  Leather alternatives have vastly improved in quality and wearability.  We now have the luxury of lots more information about where products are from and how they are made.  One thing hasn’t changed for me: my parents’ dedication to good value with longevity.

I have highlighted a few interesting leather alternatives:

Lorica 

Lorica is a high-tech microfibre with similar properties to leather.  It’s very light, breathable, hard-wearing, and water repellent.  The fabric is often used for sports shoes such as Always Riding’s cycling shoes. Apparently, it improves with age like leather but I don’t have anything made out of Lorica yet to confirm that.

 Koskin 

Koskin is commonly used for computer laptop cases.  It is very similar to the Swedish (koskinn) and Danish (koskind) words for cowhide/leather, which could confuse consumers.

Polyurethane

This fabric has the usual waterproof and durable features.  Polyurethane can also be dry cleaned and is lighter than real leather.  I remember a leather satchel I picked up at a boot fair (swap meet) that I used for school.  It was a beautiful bag but it was SO heavy to carry!  Polyurethane is used for bags, spandex, and is added to swimming costumes for buoyancy.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC is a synthetic leather that is commonly referred to as pleather.  PVC is valued for its fade and stain resistance.  Unfortunately, researchers have indicated that PVC is not environmentally friendly due to its [noxious] chemical properties.

Brand Spotlight – Angela Roi

I recently came across the company Angela Roi.  Their bags are cruelty-free and made out of polyurethane, which is referred to as “vegan leather.” I’ve been using one of their bags for over a month now and am happy to say that the leather hasn’t sloughed off. I’m not looking to pass it off as real Leather, but have received compliments from people who thought the bag was genuine, which shows how far the technology creating these materials has progressed.  If you’re interested in looking at other vegan bags Angela Roi offers, click here.  I am wearing the “Morning” cross body bag in Mud Grey.

Do you know of any other good quality leathers alternative companies?  I know lots of high street stores offer fake leather bags but the quality is usually akin to my PRIMANI bag.  I would love to hear about your go-to leather alternative companies.


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Images were taken at the Getty Villa and I was wearing the "Morning” cross body bag in Mud Grey by Angela Roi
Images were taken at the Getty Villa and I was wearing the “Morning” cross body bag in Mud Grey by Angela Roi

Update 11/11/16 – For 10% off all Angela Roi orders use the code – JessicaP10

Please note – Purchase must be made on the Angela Roi site, sale items are not included, and this offer expires 30/11/16


Jessica xoxo

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24 Comments

  1. Great post! As a vegetarian myself I’ve been meaning to look into some good leather alternatives. I had no idea there was so many! This was so helpful and the photos are lovely- I love your outfit!

    1. Thank you so much! I didn’t realise there are so many either and there are a bunch I didn’t include. I recently read about a new leather made from pineapples and would like to devote a whole post to that. You are very sweet to mention my outfit, that skirt is the best, it never creases!

    1. Thanks so much Larissa! I still have leather products but have not bought anymore. I feel that as I have these items I should make use of them for now. Vegan shoe-wise I have found good sandals at reasonable prices with Melissa (jelly shoes) but am still exploring colder weather options. I will keep an eye out and will share my findings with you 🙂 xx

  2. This is such a thoughtful, helpful post, Jessica! I don’t own any leather bags at the moment but do often feel frustrated over my imitation leather ones aging faster than I know the real deal would. I am going to check out each and every one of these suggestions because I am definitely in the market for a new, large work/travel bag. Yours is drop dead gorgeous!

    1. Aw thank you so much, Kasie! It makes me really happy to hear that this was useful to you. I’m intrigued as to what you go for when you find your bag and look forward to seeing what you pick. Last but not least, thank you, I love my new bag and use it every day. Luckily it goes with most colours 🙂

  3. Great Post! Me and my body got tired of heavy bags and heavy branding several years ago. I decided to design an ethical alternative. My line of bags has been well received and are incredibly lightweight and durable. Thanks for promoting ethical fashion!

    1. Ooo thank you so much! I really appreciate the heads up on both of those companies. I have been reading quite a bit about cork lately. Pinatex looks and sounds amazing, I have been eyeing up their bits and bobs for a while and really want to try something. Hope you’re keeping cool during this heat wave!

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I used to like leather bags but am so happy that it is getting easier everyday to find alternatives. I hope you and your little one are doing well and wish you a beautiful weekend too! 🙂 xxx

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