A recent Vogue Business poll reveals consumer opinion of leather has plummeted in recent years. Conducted by Morning Consult, a survey of 2,000 British and American residents showed that 37 percent of people in the UK and 23 percent in the U.S. consider leather as a somewhat or very inappropriate material to use in clothing.
Labels like Stella McCartney and Veja have already found success using animal-free alternatives. Since the inception of her brand, McCartney has been staunchly anti-fur and leather, while sneaker brand Veja responded to customer requests and launched a biodegradable version of its popular V10 sneaker in October.
Though popular leather alternatives including polyurethane and PVC are often described as “vegan,” yet are essentially plastic and petroleum based. PVC in particular releases toxic fumes, such as cancer-causing BPAs and phthalates. It’s also unclear whether the lifespan of genuine leather exceeds that of leather alternatives, potentially reducing waste.
Therefore, companies are now experimenting with biodegradable, plant-based alternatives to polyurethane and PVC but their higher price and cardboard-like texture often turn customers off.