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Love the look of leather jackets but prefer to sport cruelty-free or vegan clothes? Here’s our list of ethical and sustainable leather jackets from high-rated brands.
The timelessness of a leather jacket
Leather jackets have been a timeless wardrobe staple since the 1950s. Synonymous with “cool” and “edgy”, they are conventionally made with animal skins. However, there’s nothing cool about the harsh realities of leather production, and a lot of fashion-lovers would rather edge away from the distinct impacts on people, the planet, and, of course, our animal friends.
What’s wrong with animal leather jackets?
Due to complex supply chains, most of the world’s leather is untraceable, which means ensuring the welfare of the sentient beings whose skins we wear isn’t easy. What we do know is that leather production requires excess use of precious water and dangerous chemicals, harming both the environment and the workers involved. And from an ethical standpoint—whether you steer clear of all animal products or simply prefer to wear cruelty-free fashion—there are certainly better options out there.
So is vegan leather better?
It seems like every other day a new vegan leather alternative crops up. While traditional “vegan leather” is often made from environmentally-damaging materials like plastic-based PVC or the slightly better option of PU, more sustainable and innovative options like Piñatex, recycled rubber, and cactus leather are available. Having said that, it is worth noting that animal leather production can outweigh even PVC on the planet damage front, and tanned leather—which makes up about 90% worldwide—is so coated in chemicals before being sold that it cannot effectively biodegrade. Yes, even vegetable tanned leather. Some innovative plant-based leathers may still contain polyester for strength and durability, but are still often a more sustainable (and ethical) option than new leather garments.
While no option is perfect, it is up to you to decide which fabrics best align with your values and go from there. Like most choices in life, there are pros and cons. And remember, opting for second hand—whether animal leather or otherwise—is almost always the most sustainable way to go. We have included plant-based and synthetic vegan, recycled animal leather, and second hand options below to suit your needs.
If you want to get your hands on a leather jacket, there are a selection of brands devoted to making fashion a kinder industry, and we have rounded up the best of the best. From cactus leather jackets to recycled rubber jackets, “cool and edgy” done ethically is just around the corner