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Better than Skins: Innovative Vegan Accessories

From Faux Leather to Cactus Leather to Cork: New Eco & Animal Friendly Materials Challenging The Status Quo

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Accessories that have traditionally been tough to find good vegan alternatives for - belts, shoes, bags & wallets, have also been traditionally made with animal leathers.

The good news is that new leading-edge vegan materials have emerged to make the quest for ethical and eco-conscious fashion much easier.

In this guide, we will provide insights into what to look out for, and links to our curated lists of notable brands that have mastered the art of crafting cruelty-free accessories.

Leather vs. Animal-Free Materials

Traditional leather goods are derived from the hides of factory-farmed animals like cows, and the “exotic skins“ of alligators, snakes, ostriches, and other unfortunate animals.

In contrast, vegan leather-alternative goods can be made with synthetic faux leathers, eco-friendly plant-based materials like cactus & bamboo leather, cork, and even post-consumer waste.

Leather Isn’t Actually the Holy Grail

Despite the tired argument that “genuine” leather is innately superior in quality to all other materials, it simply isn’t true. Even synthetically produced Faux Leather has come a long way since its inception and is much more than just a cheap replacement for animal hides.

Some faux leathers now are nearly indistinguishable from the “real” thing and can maintain their quality for many years. The fact is, animal leathers themselves come in a wide variety of grades - only the highest of which are really known for their longevity.

Much of the leather on the mass market is made from bonded leather (shavings, scraps & glue) or split leather coated with polyurethane (PU Leather) or polymers, embossed with artificial grain, or even spray-painted.

“The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.” Hippocrates

Animals are Natural, but is Animal Leather NATURAL?

Contrary to myth, animal leathers are not a genuinely natural product. The concentrated animal agriculture operations where animals are raised and killed cannot be remotely considered a product of nature.

Further, the tanning process is highly toxic & environmentally hazardous as the majority of leather production uses caustic chemicals like sodium dichromate, a known carcinogen. Even vegetable tanned leather uses tannins stripped from trees - not exactly kind to nature.

Knowing all of this, and the wide availability of better materials means you can rock shoes, boots, belts or any accessory you like while upholding your values of kindness towards animals and the planet.

The Shopping Guides:

Shoes & Boots


Bags & Wallets


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