Longevity and Vegan Leather

Kate Corder August 21, 2014 7
Longevity and Vegan Leather

 I have recently suffered vegan handbag heartbreak. The particular handbag, which has caused my heartbreak is a much-treasured, but not over used item purchased in 2009. On the day my heartbreak occurred I was using the handbag, while attending an important event. Somehow throughout the day the fabric of my handbag gradually began to crumble. The bag itself was expertly designed with seemingly quality fabric. The overall structure of the bag shows virtually no wear; the stitching, zips and fastenings have plenty of life left in them. The interior lining of the bag is still intact. It is only the top layer of the fabric, which is softly peeling away and crumbling in to dust.

I am of course very much for the longevity of items such as handbags, which I do not have the money to buy on a frequent basis. How to deal with the disappoint of finding out a treasured item does not have longevity one expects is a difficult situation, because writing emails to complain to designers can be fruitless. Being a long-term vegan I have no wish to damage the vegan handbag industry (and I will not be buying any dead animal skin replacement handbags), however the relativity short lifespan of this not over-used handbag needs to be noted. I am thus drawing attention to my vegan handbag demise as an ethical concern and plea for designers and companies to strive towards eco vegan leather longevity.

To some 2009 might seem way past its sell by date from the point of view of fashion and longevity, but trust me, this handbag out styled many designer bags and was a classic in good design; a credit to the designer. The only flaw is the fabric. I have vintage non-leather handbags, which are still in good condition. Some modern faux leathers are less durable than others, but from the point of view of the user, one needs to know what the lifespan of the bag will be. If the user knows at 4 years into the handbag’s existence a fabric self-destruction process is predicted to manifest, the handbag, at this stage, can have seen as so much usage the by the user the bag’s life termination date will not be so troublesome.

Some bags, belts and shoes last longer than others whether they are vegan or non-vegan. The durability of designs and craftsmanship is to be encouraged in our cultures built on constantly changing fashions. Being able to properly recycle an item so it does not become landfill fodder generating toxicity to humans, non-humans and environments should be a virtue all manufactures attempt and achieve in our toxic world. How long do we have to wait for the easy recycling of everything? Science and technology are capable of so much, and by now in this age of anthropocenic acceleration, all things whatever they are and however they are made, should be non-toxic to the planet and its occupants.

Have you experienced the deterioration of vegan faux leather products? How have you dealt with it?

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  1. jesse.anne.o August 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm -

    Yes, and it seems to be hit or miss within the same brand sometimes, too. Usually I just avoid buying that brand again if possible or trying to figure out if it was a particular construction or design that made it more prone to wear/splitting. I wish there was a better solution to this issue. I wish I could have a crystal ball for knowing how long bags, shoes and clothing will last.

  2. Jenn August 26, 2014 at 12:28 pm -

    I have experienced this issue as well. I stopped purchasing faux-leather bags and shoes because they just fall apart in the same way as yours did, and PVC is not exactly an environmentally-friendly product. My advice is to stay away from materials that dry and crack – opt for materials that remain flexible like nylon, cotton, canvas. I’m currently using a sporty nylon Lululemon handbag and it still looks great. Melissa makes nice vegan shoes and they are quite comfortable as long as your feet don’t get sweaty in them. My only qualm is their lack of a middle heel height. Most of their designs are either completely flat or way high. I hope the next treasured vegan bag you find lasts much longer 🙂

  3. Saniel September 21, 2014 at 9:33 am -

    I finally hunkered down and purchased a vegan bag I had been obsessing over in the last 6months. I loved this bag, received lots of compliments and took extra care of not putting on the ground and watching for scuff marks. But to no avail the zipper broke and material started peeling! I have not purchased from that company again but I have other vegan purses on my wishlist that are better quality, grand reviews, warranties and of course are much pricey. You live and learn just like with any other vegan product. Thanks. I Am taking the bag to the cobbler (eco friendly) next week to see if anything can be done, wish me luck.

  4. France November 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm -

    I have tried Alyssa vegan bags ( you find those on ebay.com) and I am very happy with this brand. No peeling, long lasting and lots of styles. It has solved the problem for me, so I am sharing the info !

  5. Anne November 19, 2014 at 5:27 am -

    Hi. I’ve just caught up with this post. My company based in Sydney sells vegan leather bags and wallets, in addition to jackets. We have the bags and wallets made by a highly reputable and ethical company in Mumbai and the fabric and quality is fabulous. There is no excuse for peeling or flaking or no-longevity or whatever. You can see the selection here http://bit.ly/1xnDCBP. We also sell on Amazon.com here but not the full product range as yet. http://bit.ly/amazonshopfrontus. We’d really welcome some views on whether we should make this range of bags available in the US so you don’t have to pay delivery from Aus.

  6. Jobx November 25, 2014 at 3:30 am -

    Bought a brand new pair of black boots quite a few years ago, but only wore them until recently. I was at a funeral of all places, and instead of focusing on the day, I was very self conscious of my shoes peeling away as the hours went by. I know it sounds a bit shallow, but this was the last thing I needed. Needless to say, I hope with the advancement in vegan materials and quality over the years, I hope there are manufacturers that can supply a better product– especially for those of us that will accept nothing less than a sustainable and cruelty free product.

  7. Fallopia Tuba January 23, 2016 at 11:56 pm -

    I’ve noticed some of my vegan shoes peeling as you describe—particularly a pair of killer black boots that oddly, I hadn’t worn much—but I’ve actually been extremely happy with the way my vegan shoes and bags wear!

    For instance, I have two pairs of Doc Martens-style boots from Vegetarian Shoes that I’ve been wearing pretty exclusively these past few weeks; they’re both at least five years old. Every day I put them on, I think how wonderful they are that they’re lasting so well.

    The one item I have that’s wearing like the purse in your picture is a checkbook cover given to me by a friend a couple of years ago. It’s doing exactly what you show: the outer layer is flaking/peeling off.

    I’m just thrilled that the field is growing so fast; I don’t think there will ever be enough vegans on earth to make a difference to climate change, but in the meantime we vegans at least have the choice of what lifeboat we get on.

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