Vegan fashion is on the rise, with the UK’s accessories sector seeing a 56 percent increase in ‘vegan’ items stocked year-on-year. But are these products really a sustainable alternative?
Ever found yourself purchasing a ‘green’ clothing item from your local retailer?
Veganism across the board has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years, with Gen Z leading the charge. According to a report from Produce Blue Book, 65% of Gen Z say they want a more ‘plant-forward’ diet.
Whether it be a desire to go cruelty-free, lowering green house gas emissions, or just to respect the rights of animals, brands must change their practices to keep up with this changing demand and remain relevant.
The fashion industry is no exception. We’ve seen many ‘green’ clothing products and brands pop up in the last five years or so, promising consumers a smarter choice that offers style without the moral guilt.
Leather made from synthetic materials is one such example of this new-age ‘vegan’ fashion, though it may be less environmentally friendly than you think.
Vegan leather – also known as synthetic leather or ‘pleather’ – is typically made from one of two types of plastic polymers: polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These polymers are derived from fossil fuels and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, which isn’t exactly ideal when you’re trying to save the planet and be eco-conscious.
These clothes can also pose a threat after they’ve been worn and discarded as they usually end up in landfill, degrade, and release toxic chemicals. Failing that, they could wind up in the ocean, where they’ll eventually become micro-plastics.
The production of vegan leather does more than just damage the environment, too. It also largely contributes to fast fashion, a problem that remains rampant across the industry.
Being synthetic, these materials are far cheaper to produce and have a lower price tag for consumers, appealing to the typically cost-sensitive Gen Z budget.
Currently, a pair of faux leather boots on Boohoo that were originally only £35 are being retailed at £7. But this ‘bargain’ comes at a social cost. Just last year, The Sunday Times revealed that workers in Boohoo’s Leicester factory were being paid £3.50 an hour, despite minimum wage for anyone over the age of 25 being £8.72.