Having been a strict vegetarian and on/off vegan for over 15 years, what I am about to write is not an easy thing or topic.
When I went vegan for the first time in my life, I was 16 years old and had only been vegetarian for three years. Being only 16 I don't think I grasped exactly how I was at the start of a long journey of many ups and downs of eating healthier, living cleaner, all while speaking up for animals that have no voice of their own. I will be honest, when I say I didn't have much support from family, they were your typical 'meat and potatoes' American family with a warped view on healthy food.
At 13 I was begging my parents to become vegetarian, however my family was very 'American' and didn't think it was a healthy diet. The night I finally put my foot down and said I would never eat meat again, my father gave me a raw block of tofu and told me that was what vegetarians ate, and I needed to eat it (took two hours to stomach down raw tofu with nothing on it, but I did it).
Those early days of veganism was a time when I was discovering exactly where my own moral compass for animal rights would fit into the pendulum of things. I often pushed people away, by diving straight into the deep end of things and often even arguing, nowadays I try to encourage friends to start with meatless monday.
Unfortunately when I first choose to become vegan, like many other “newbies” my actions and words were extreme and not always thought out. Especially when it came to the clothes, shoes, and accessories that I bought. I didn’t want to touch anything that came from an animal, especially not leather.
I didn’t realize that at the time my choice to buy vegan leather, was just as harmful to animals and the environment as if i was to buy leather.
Many vegan “pleather” product, made from chemicals and toxic dyes will pollute the rivers, lakes, soil, ocean and air. Sadly the majority of these toxic plastic based leathers, are much like the 'short use plastic's' and do not last, creating more waste (as PVC is not degradable) and more demand for harmful chemicals and toxins.
Lorica: This material is made out of several different synthetic microfibers. One of the biggest users of Lorica is Sidi, an Italian motorcycle company.
Birko-Flor & Birkibuc: Both are vegan leather from Birkenstock, sadly both Birkibuc and Birko-Flor are made out toxic materials that include acrylic and polyamide.
PVC: Probably the most common 'pleather' that may be good for the animals, but is not so good for the environment.
Created by BOLT threads, Mylo is a new biomaterial grown from mycelium: an underground root structure. Mycelium is the scientific term for mushrooms, which means that this ethical leather alternative is made from mushrooms. Being created from organic matter, Mylo is completely biodegradable and non-toxic.
The first brands that is going to be using this vegan leather is Stella McCartney, with their iconic Falabella bag.
One of the best things about Mylo is that because it is made from organic matter, it is completely biodegradable and non-toxic.
Created by Modern Meadow, this biofabrication company takes living cells to grow natural materials. Modern Meadow has created a bioleather called Zoa that not only is durable, but is also entirely free of animals. At scale, the environmental impact of this particular biofabrication will be less then both animal based leather and plastic-based leather.
No matter what type of 'vegan' leather' you choose to buy, there will always be a more ethical and sustainable option. It is buying second hand or vintage pieces (which include both real leather and plastic based vegan leather).
In the United States, it has been estimated that over 11 million tons of textiles are thrown away each year.
that breaks down to the average American putting 70 pounds of clothing, shoes into the landfill EACH YEAR.
In addition to the the clothing ending up in a landfill, the textiles in landfills also emit more than 7lbs of C02 for each pound of 'thrown away' clothing.
Buying vintage, used or from consignment store extends the life cycle of the garment (or shoes & accessories), while also creating more of a demand for second-hand options. So while I may be a vegetarian (almost vegan) who LOVES animals, I do purchase second hand leather and suede, or even pleather products (my favorite being Stella McCartney).
I have found some of the most amazing designer bargains here, including Yves Saint Laurent red wedges I once bought for only $175 and many gently used Stella McCartney pieces as well. Below you will find a few of my favorite current picks from ethical vegan fashion designer Stella McCartney that are currently available on The RealReal.
Another amazing online luxury designer consignment shop I have found is Fashionphile. Fashionphile is LA based and doesn't seem to have as large of a collection as TheRealReal yet, however I can say that when comparing prices between the two, Fashionphile is often slightly cheaper. One of favorite purchases from Fashionphile was a tan Prada Saffiano tote for only $595 that would have cost over $2400 brand new.
xoxo Noelle Lynne
Creator of Florum Fashion Magazine
Almost Vegan. Ethical Entrepreneur.
Disclosure: This post may includes affiliate links. As always Florum Fashion Magazine is proud to share with you because, sponsored or not, we only share stuff we love & stand behind. We NEVER feature a product that doesn't fit into our own sustainable, ethical and environmental standards.