Do you have a leather jacket, purchased some years ago, a small investment that you granted yourself for a particular occasion? The trendy gift for a well deserved promotion, maybe. Well, hold on to it, even if your conscience echoes you with guilt. There is nothing better than keeping on wearing a long-lasting garment like a genuine leather jacket. From the one purchased in the vintage market, to that one inherited from the mother, in short, a staple and everlasting garment, today the only truly sustainable solution.
But buying a new leather jacket is quite another thing. It does not go along with love for animals and respect for the environment, if we also consider the climatic and environmental impact generated by the cycle of its production. Among the alternatives, there’s the vegan leather. A cruelty free product, made with innovative and sustainable materials coming from the waste of plant origin, including cork, pineapple and banana leaves, apple or other fruit peels.
It can also be made with cellulose fibers or synthetic materials such as microfiber, processed to resemble leather in appearance and texture. In short, a real innovation in the fashion world, a step forward towards sustainability. Especially when the love for animals joins the effort of using waste materials, putting back into circulation again what would have been destined to landfills. The sore point is the cost, much higher for a sustainable and vegan leather jacket.
Eco-leather and semi-leather
Then there are also eco-leather products, whose name can be misleading, because they are in any case of animal origin, made with waste leather from the food industry, following reduced environmental impact protocols. Nothing to do, therefore, with the cruelty free philosophy. Cheaper items that claim to be vegan are often made with synthetic leather or semi-leather. Others come from natural or synthetic fabrics, then coated with polyurethane resins – in other words plastic – to resemble genuine leather.
Alternative materials to genuine leather, pros and cons
So, if you are going to purchase a new eco-sustainable jacket, what material should it be made of? At the moment, every alternative material to genuine leather has some negative aspects, from high costs to the use of plastic materials that impact the environment. Which should also make us reflect on the possible toxic effects of plastic residues released in contact with the skin. And to consider that even vegan products can make use of plastics, to a more or less consistent extent. Without underestimating, then, the durability of the fashion product made with all those materials that resemble leather in consistency. But they do not have, at least to the same extent, the characteristic of elasticity that makes genuine leather garments durable over time, able to adapt to climate change. On the contrary, products of synthetic origin tend to deteriorate within a few seasons, to lose the protective coating.
In the meantime, while we all are waiting for the perfect fabric with the exact same characteristics of leather to be produced in the laboratory, let’s consider our vintage leather jacket again, the only one that can really, at the moment, win the medal for sustainable fashion. If you bought it years ago, don’t throw it away, look for a good seamstress who can transform it according to your body shapes. Change the buttons and zips, use the accessories to make it even more lovely. And if you really intend to buy a leather jacket, go thrifting, consider the lots of products sold in second-hand markets. A branded and well-made leather jacket, perhaps even at a very cheap price is easy to find thank to its durability.
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