Vegan materials: good or bad?

The vegan debate is not just based on lifestyle or eating habits. The debate on vegan materials and alternatives to leathers is something brought on by a change in the fashion industry, and an increased awareness of sustainability and green washing. But are vegan materials and material alternatives good? Or do they do more harm than the positive term 'vegan' suggests? The team at Clutch Made took a deep dive this week into the world of sustainable and vegan materials, keep reading to find out...


There is a range of materials that can be used to make vegan leathers and materials, but for faux leathers, it's typically synthetics like plastic. The most commonly used is PVC or PU, which are both plastic based materials. The synthetic materials are often questioned for their impact on the environment. Bonding plastic coatings to fabric backings is the most common way to produce vegan leathers, however this releases dioxins which are potentially dangerous in small spaces and when burnt.


This toxicity makes it one of the 'single most environmentally damaging type of plastic'. PU also releases toxins and is made with oil based polymers which makes use of fossil fuels. So the argument for vegan leathers being more sustainable isn't entirely accurate, whilst they may be more ethical.


Overall to look at the long term impact of one versus the other, there are many factors to consider. For normal leathers, the quality and durability, when care