Vegan leather is all the rage lately, thanks partly to its animal-friendly and (mostly) sustainable nature. But is vegan leather durable? I will discuss the different types of vegan leather, their durability, and how long they can be expected to last.
Vegan leather is a fairly durable leather alternative made from plant substances and plastics. It is not as durable as real leather but can last 2–20 years. Cork, PU, and PVC leathers are the most durable vegan leathers currently available, but others can include apple, cactus, and pineapple.
Are you looking for a new leather accessory but don’t know if vegan leather is durable enough? Want a new pair of leather shoes but wonder if vegan leather will last long enough? Let’s explore the durability of different types of vegan leather to help you better decide.
What Is Vegan Leather?
Vegan leather is a leather-like material made from many different substances. The most common vegan leather is made from polyurethane (PU), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and recycled plastic. Other vegan leathers are made with pineapple leaves, apple peels, cork, and other sustainable materials.
What We’ll Explore
- Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
- History of Vegan Leather
- Is Vegan Leather Durable Overview Table
- What Makes Vegan Leather Durable
- Is Vegan Leather More Durable Than Real Leather
- Which Vegan Leathers Are Most Durable
- How to Make Vegan Leather More Durable
- My Personal Research Into the Durability of Vegan Leather
- Helpful Insights Into the Durability of Vegan Leather
- Key Takeaways
Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions
Vegan leather is often mistaken for leather; however, no animal products or hides are involved in its making. Vegan leather is also believed to be just as durable as real leather, which most are not except for cork leather. Vegan leather also doesn’t last as long as real leather, usually two to five years, with the exception of cork leather.
It has also been said that all vegan leather is environmentally friendly, but this is a misconception because some vegan leathers are made with polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which are not environmentally friendly.
Vegan leather made from plant materials is durable because the fibers mesh together with chemicals and binding agents that hold it together.
History of Vegan Leather
Leather alternatives started being created in the early 20th century with paper pulp and cloth treated with pigments and chemicals to simulate leather. Since then, numerous improvements have been made in developing faux leather. However, it was in the 1970s that environmental awareness started popping up hence the need for sustainable products like leather alternatives.
Vegan leather debuted in the 1990s with PU and PVC, also called leatherette or vinyl. These weren’t environmentally friendly, and over the past couple of decades, great strides have been made in creating leather alternatives from plant materials, including apples, pineapple leaves, cork, and even cacti.
Is Vegan Leather Durable Overview Table
|Material||Paper, mushrooms, apple peels, cactus leaves, pineapple leaves, cork, mangos, PU or PVC, cotton or polyester base|
|Uses||Shoes, purses, wallets, belts, clothing, accessories, furniture|
|Cost||$30–$40 per yard|
|Maintenance||Clean with mild soap and water, leather conditioner every six months|
What Makes Vegan Leather Durable
Vegan leather made from plant materials is durable because the fibers mesh together with chemicals and binding agents that hold it together. In many cases, fabric backing is also glued onto those plant fibers. Vegan leather is very complex in its structure, and the plant type used can contribute to different levels of durability.
For example, cork is the most durable vegan leather currently on the market, and its complex nature and molecular structure make it waterproof. Many types of vegan leather also include PU or PVC, which add to the water resistance and durability. Plant fibers, plastics, and chemical processes make vegan leather durable.
Is Vegan Leather More Durable Than Real Leather
Real leather is highly durable, and unfortunately, vegan leather is less durable than the real thing. Because it is made from different plant, plastic, and fabric materials, there is currently no vegan leather that is more durable than real leather.
Real leather is animal hide that usually is not patched together or broken down and reconstituted like vegan leather; plus, leather goes through processing and tanning to increase its durability and preserve the hide.
To see how mangoes are made into vegan leather, watch this interesting video from Business Insider.
Which Vegan Leathers Are Most Durable
Cork leather, made out of the bark from cork oak trees, is the most durable vegan leather and can last up to 20 years. The bark is chipped off as sheets that are dried, boiled, reshaped, laminated, and treated with fabric protection to make it highly durable. It is also naturally waterproof, which is more than one can say for any other leather.
PVC and PU leather are also highly durable and water resistant, but be wary because some PVC and PU leather contain parts of animal hides. No matter the vegan leather that is chosen, proper care and maintenance can keep it in great shape and improve its durability.
How to Make Vegan Leather More Durable
Vegan leathers are becoming more popular, and new types are being developed constantly. They’re sustainable, most are environmentally friendly, and some have great durability. Research by Choi and Lee about the ethical awareness of vegan materials has found that interest in vegan fashion has risen along with environmental awareness. Thus, increasing the durability of vegan leather will most likely increase demand for these products. But for now, how can one make vegan leather more durable to last longer? It’s all about proper care.
- Keep vegan leather away from direct sun and high heat.
- Condition vegan leather with a leather conditioner at least every six months.
- Wash vegan leather with mild soap and water.
- Avoid exposing vegan leather to excessive moisture.
- Consider protecting vegan leather with a waterproofing spray or cream.
- Rotate using vegan products for a longer life.
My Personal Research Into the Durability of Vegan Leather
Many types of vegan leathers are available on the market, but which are the most durable and last the longest? I have compiled the most popular vegan leathers and how long they can be expected to last with proper care.
|Vegan Leather Type||Lifespan|
|Cork leather||15–20 years|
|Desserto (cactus leaves)||8–10 years|
|Apple skin||2–4 years|
|Mycelium leather (mushrooms)||4–6 years|
|Lorica (microfibers)||6–8 years|
|Corn leather||3–5 years|
Helpful Insights Into the Durability of Vegan Leather
What is the most durable vegan leather?
Cork leather is the most durable vegan leather and can last nearly as long as real leather. It has similar characteristics to real leather and is easy to care for. Made from cork oak bark, cork leather is often used for luggage, apparel, wallets, bags, and other leather accessories.
Is vegan leather as durable as real leather?
Vegan leather is less durable than real leather but more sustainable and animal friendly. Vegan leather is made from substances like cactus leaves, apples, pineapple leaves, and cork bonded together with PU or PVC. So while it may have some durability, it is not the same as the real thing.
Is vegan leather durable for furniture?
Vegan leather can be durable for furniture but will not last as long as real leather. It is an ethical and sustainable way to have a leather look in the home at a lower cost. Vegan leather furniture has a different feel than real leather but is very easy to care for.
- Vegan leather is made from several different plant materials that have varied durability.
- Vegan leather can last anywhere from 2–20 years.
- Vegan is a great choice for shoes, handbags, and even furniture.
As a leather alternative, vegan leather is a great choice for animal and leather lovers alike. Some vegan leathers are more durable than others, and most are more affordable than real leather. With so many environmentally friendly and sustainable choices, there’s likely an option for everyone. And who knows — with all the advancements being made, someday there may be a vegan leather just as durable as real leather!
- Vegan Leather – An Animal Friendly Alternative
- Is Vegan Leather Real Leather? – Simple Answer With a Deeper Look
- Artificial Leather – A Surprisingly Useful Alternative
- Faux Leather – Artificial Leather That’s Wildly Popular
- Mushroom Leather – Vegan Leather Made from Mycelium Fiber
- Pineapple Leather – Vegan Leather from Pineapple Fibers
- Leatherette – The Synthetic Leather Alternative with Style
- Leather and Vinyl – Learn the Difference and Tell Them Apart
- Cactus Leather – An Innovative, Vegan Leather From Plants
- Eco Leather – Safer and Environmentally Friendly
- Synthetic Leather – What Can Make it a Great Choice for You
- Apple Leather – Vegan Faux Leather With a Natural Twist