The undeserved reputation of faux-leather


When you grow up, like I did, in a traditional family, you are taught that the finest clothes and luxurious accessories come from animal products. It’s an absolute disgrace to wear an imitation. An unforgivable fashion faux-pas!

Behaviours and beliefs are hard to change. I discovered faux-leather only when I became a vegan and it was with great apprehension that I bought my first pair of vegan shoes. I didn’t even know where to buy them so I made my first purchase online. I chose a basic model just to test the product… and to discretely assess how much my feet would sweat and smell in this new material!

First of all, I would like to reassure my non-vegan readers, shoes made in faux-leather are comfortable and not smelly. By the way, all sport footwear companies manufacture sport shoes without leather. Asics, New Balance and Nike have several options with no cruelty to animals, at least with regard to leather. Synthetic materials make shoes light and breathable.

The second main criticism is the poor quality of faux-leather, especially over time. I recently read a fashion article claiming that people should not buy faux-leather belts because the material will deteriorate quickly by splitting and cracking. I suspect that the editor has never bought a faux-leather belt. If she had she would have seen that there is beautiful and lasting faux-leather. What could have influenced her is that faux-leather, unlike real leather, doesn’t develop lustre and patina with age.

Faux-leather is less expensive than genuine leather. And I think this is the third main criticism from the fashion world. Inexpensive is perceived as cheap. It’s a fact that faux-leather is a great cost-effective alternative to real animal leather. Bags and shoes in faux leather are more affordable in high street, contemporary or luxury brands than those featuring genuine leather. And there are more and more choices, not only from specialised cruelty-free brands but also from the classic ones.

I don’t want to launch a debate about environmental impact; chemical pollution versus cruelty to animals and breeding pollution. My choice is clearly a cruelty-free choice.

It is possible to purchase beautiful and high quality items in faux-leather. Cruelty to animals is not a necessity at all. And when something is not a necessity it’s a choice.


Can you guess which ones are leather and which ones aren’t?

Clic on the pictures to see the answers