(Updated October 28, 2020) | The vegan leather industry is booming. According to a report released earlier this year, the market is on track to be worth $89.6 billion by 2025.
The report, released by market research firm Infinium Global Research, attributed the growth to the growing awareness of the environmental impacts of animal-derived leather, as well as the rising demand for animal-free products.
Vegan leather is common in a number of products, including home furnishings and car interiors. But the research firm suggests that growing demand from the footwear sector specifically will be a key factor in the animal-free leather industry’s growth.
But what exactly is vegan leather?
What Is Vegan Leather Made Of?
Innovative companies are now creating vegan leather from just about anything: fruit, mushrooms, corn, reclaimed wood, recycled plastic bottles, kombucha tea, coffee—you name it.
London-based textile company Ananas Anam uses sustainably-sourced pineapple leaves to produce a natural leather-like material called Piñatex. A byproduct of the fruit industry, the leaves are typically burned or thrown out. A number of major brands, like H&M and Hugo Boss, already use the vegan material.
Designers can also make vegan leather from other fruits, such as apples and grapes. High-end vegan shoe company Veerah makes a leather-like material from the former, while Italian-based tech company Vegea crafts sustainable vegan leather from the latter.
Earlier this year, H&M even featured a vegan leather in its new Conscious Collection made from the byproducts of wine. And the London-based sustainable brand Luxtra launched a range of vegan leather handbags made from mangoes.
Are All Vegan Leathers Sustainable?
Vegan leather is widely touted as a more ethical and socially conscious alternative to traditional leather. And while the aforementioned vegan leathers are more eco-friendly than their animal-derived counterparts, when it comes to sustainability—not all vegan leathers are created equal.
Some synthetic vegan leathers are made from petroleum-based polyvinyl chloride (PVC). One of the most environmentally damaging types of plastic, PVC is highly toxic and pollutive. Polyurethane (PU), another plastic-based material, is also commonly used to make vegan leather.
However, a 2017 report by the Pulse of Fashion Industry found that synthetic leathers are still more sustainable than cow leather. The report indicates they have one-third of the environmental impact of animal-derived leather.
The 10 Best Designer Vegan Leather Boots for Fall
Here are ten vegan leather boots to rock this season that are as stylish as they are sustainable.
1. Trina Pinatex Vegan Ankle Boots by NAE Vegan Shoes
NAE, which stands for “No Animal Exploitation,” is a Portuguese-based brand that produces vegan and cruelty-free footwear. The company is also big on sustainability. Its products feature natural materials like cork and organic cotton, as well as recycled materials like airbags and plastic bottles. These vegan lace-up ankle boots are perfect for fall. They feature Piñatex’s pineapple leaf material and are lined with an anti-allergy, breathable microfiber.
2. Alcott by SUSI Studio
SUSU Studio specializes in using eco-friendly materials like hemp, canvas, denim, and recycled plastic. These adorable boots—a sleek and stylish take on the classic Chelsea boot—are made with the latter.
3. Apple Leather Ankle Boots by Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather
The first 100 percent vegan shoe brand in France, Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather’s products are all cruelty- and sweatshop-free. All of the materials the company uses are also sustainably made in Europe with certified manufacturers. These adorable ankle boots, which are featured on the vegan lifestyle platform Immaculate Vegan, feature the Italian-based textile company Frumat’s Apple Skin leather. The apple leather uses the core waste and skin of apples recovered from the food industry.
4. Boccaccio II by Rombaut
For a futuristic look this fall, look no further than Rombaut’s Boccaccio II boots. The high-top sneak boots feature an extra-thick, chunky sole and are also made with Apple Skin leather.
5. 1992 Black by VIRÓN
Can’t get enough apple leather? Try VIRÓN’s Black Leather Apple 1992 Boots. The ankle-high faux-leather boots feature a treaded recycled rubber sole.
6. Grace Chelsea Boots by Bourgeois Boheme
Featuring PVC-free, eco-friendly vegan leather, Bourgeois Boheme’s Grace Chelsea Boots are the quintessential fall boot you never knew you needed. Bourgeois Boheme is no stranger to sustainable shoes. The company uses materials like recycled rubber, paper, cork, and plant-based polymers to craft its shoes.
7. Ida Black Boots by Beyond Skin
Beyond Skin’s Ida Black Boots will have you looking sleek and stylish all winter long. The brand’s footwear features PU, but the company notes this is a far more sustainable option than other synthetic materials. Beyond Skin also uses 70 percent post-consumer recycled cardboard to make its insoles. It also gives 5 percent of all profits to grass-root environmental and social projects.
8. Snug Boot Pineapple by Vegetarian Shoes
Featuring Piñatex, these pull-on boots are so comfy and warm you won’t want to take them off. Vegetarian Shoes lined the boots with faux sheep wool, and they also feature rubber and cork soles.
9. Insulated Dock Boots by Will’s Vegan Shoes
Sturdy enough for hiking and insulated enough to keep you warm throughout the fall, Will’s Vegan Shoes’ Dock Boots are a go-to this winter. They feature a plant-based, Italian vegan leather. In a carbon-neutral process, the company sources the plants from cereal crops.
10. Chelsea Rainboots by nat-2
Nat-2 is well-known for using sustainable materials to craft its shoes. These Chelsea-esque waterproof rainboots are 100 percent vegan and PVC-free. In lieu of synthetic materials, the company used cork to craft its boots. And, according to nat-2, the cork-based rainboot is the first-of-its-kind on the footwear market.
Check them out here.
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