On Saturday the 23rd of March, I headed into campus to join our latest workshop, ‘The Rise of Sustainable Leather: Create Your Own Vegan Leather Satchel’. Featuring as a part of NGV Design Week, the workshop itself was super fun but what intrigued me even more was the opening lecture. 

For those of you that are new to the idea of sustainable fashion, let’s clear one misconception up: there’s actually quite a big difference between vegan and sustainable fashion. To put it simply, one is based on the planet and the war on waste and the other primarily focuses on animal welfare. Both are great causes but they don’t exactly go hand in hand. 


So let’s talk about the vegan side of things. First of all, shoutout to my home Melbourne for being the number 1 city in the world for veganism! I would say I’m surprised, but let’s be honest - there’s no shortage of cafes in Melbourne that are either totally vegan or have a wide array of vegan options. Other than the food, vegan leather is so on trend at the moment; however, it isn’t exactly new. Starting out with the OG vinyl, we have since come out with some great new tech that is improving the development, the look and the feel of the materials, getting closer and closer to actual leather, minus the animals. 


So how are people creating this faux leather options? Bottega Venta’s ‘Paper bag’ is great high fashion non-leather option, although being lined with silk it is not considered vegan, but still more sustainable than leather. 

- Cork is one of the eco-friendliest materials at the moment. (It’s currently being used by the likes of Chanel and Louboutin!) 

- Another NEW leather alternative is Cool Stone ‘Leather’. It ages similarly to real leather so it gives a similar vibe and look. 

- Tree Bark leather is another option - each piece is very unique looking! 

- Pinatex is actually made from pineapples and one of our faves! It’s eco-friendlier than it’s fellow fruity option; the apple leather. Bonus - it feels like cowhide). 

- For all the mushroom lovers out there, Muskin is here! It can be waterproofed in a non-chemical way and is also biodegradable and eco-friendly. 


Still interested in vegan/sustainable leather? One thing I learnt today is that it’s super important to do your own research to get the most factual and un-biased info on sustainable leather alternatives and vegan leather options. More o en than not a brand will be based on veganism or sustainability – not both! It’s your choice as the consumer to decide which is more important to you, so get researching!