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What is vegan leather and is it eco-friendly?

Pinatex bag by Grey Whale bags, eco friendly vegan leather alternative

So what is vegan leather?  It’s a term spreading fast and as the trend towards vegan food grows so does the desire for vegan fashion.  I feel like we are led to believe that because of associations with the word ‘vegan’ it is somehow natural and kind to the environment.  However what does it really mean- it might not harm any animals but is it really eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable?  Most vegan (faux, plether, leatherette) leathers are made up of synthetic compounds that are essentially plastic.  PVC (polyvinylchloride or vinyl) is the most common type but PU (polyutherane) is now becoming the more popular choice being the slightly less toxic of the two in terms of production and disposal.  As you might imagine being yet another form of plastic neither of the two could be called environmentally friendly.  The good news is that as technology and the demand for more eco-friendly products grow more sustainable options are slowly coming on the scene.  I really like the look of waxed canvas and even washable paper (though I’m still a little unsure of cork) and these are currently some of the best options for sustainable leather alternatives.  Earlier this year though while researching new materials to make Grey Whale handbags, having decided not to use leather since it’s production is also pretty toxic, something called ‘Pinatex’ caught my eye.  Piñatex™ has been dubbed pineapple leather but is perhaps less leather-like than many of the PVC and PU based kinds.  It’s something new and different entirely; a natural material made from waste pineapple plant fibres.  As it is a by-product of the pineapple harvest so no extra land, water, fertilizers or pesticides are required to produce the leaves used.  Also Piñatex can provide extra income for farmers while potentially creating a whole new industry for pineapple growing countries.  Yes, yes and yes please.  Plus it looks brilliant, slightly unusual and definitely not like typical leather alternatives but I’d say what a great conversation starter!  Here is a little preview of a collection I have based around this mysterious ‘pineapple leather’.

Pinatex pineapple leather alternative nag by Grey Whale bags

This is just a taste of my upcoming collection which will be all Pinatex and organic denim sprinkled with my patterns and prints.  As always these bags and purses will be deeply inspired nature with practical and urban lifestyle slant.  I can’t wait to show you the full collection and if you’re excited to see then sign up for my email updates to be with the first to know about it!

Pinatex and organic cotton nature inspired mood board