Leather is a subject I’ve been wanting to explore here with you for ages. I know that it’s a tricky and controversial question, but I am really interested in your views on the subject!
To be clear: no I do not eat meat, no I would never ever wear fur (even vintage fur), but yes I am still wearing leather… and I do find this a bit disturbing and totally paradoxical!
Some people dissociate leather and fur. For them, it is OK to boycott fur (as it is widely pictured as unnecessary cruelty) and, at the same time, to wear leather without even questioning this habit. However, fur and leather are the exact same thing: leather is basically a hairless fur!
It is also commonly said that leather is just a by-product of the meat industry, and we tend to believe that since the animal has already died, its skin will necessarily go to waste if we do not transform it into something useful (whereas, in the case of fur, animals are specifically bred for their skin).
That is probably a valid opinion, but it is not mine. And yet, that is exactly what I am doing: boycotting fur on one hand, and wearing leather on the other! And, from an ethical viewpoint, this does not feel coherent to me. At all.
If I’m still making this questionable choice at the moment, it is mainly because I find it less harmful for the environment in general if, and only if, it is put into practice cautiously.
You will easily find studies proving that in the end, polyurethane is less polluting than leather. Well, even if I’m not convinced at all, what I firmly believe is that the leather industry is a major disaster for both humans and the environment (read this article for example).
But then, the most acceptable choice would probably be to avoid both leather and its man-made, oil-based substitutes.
Except that I don’t really picture myself facing the alpine winter with canvas sneakers! So, long story short: I do not have any satisfactory answer yet to that tricky question when it comes to two items I simply can’t go without: shoes and biker jacket.
I once owned a faux-leather biker jacket, not ethically-produced at all, and coming from the Spanish fast-fashion giant that I’m avoiding at all costs now!
After a few months trying to wear it, I resolved to sell it even if it was absolutly gorgeous looking! Why? Because of its horrible, stiff and non-breathable material.
As for the shoes, either they were a total mess after only a few months of wear, or they were too rigid and I never really managed to feel comfortable.
To provide some background, I literally live in my biker jacket and leather boots (probably 80% of the time)! And I don’t really want to wear something else just to be fashionable. I do have other stuff in my wardrobe though but, you get the picture!
I thus want my leather jacket and boots to be reliable and to really stand the test of time, not only one year or two! And that’s why I’m still choosing leather today.
What’s the point of using man-made materials if they don’t last long enough and I’m obliged to replace them every year?
In my opinion, a good-quality leather, well maintained, that you will keep for many years is less harmful to the environment and will even be biodegradable in the end.
Once again, i strongly believe that the key lies in the refusal of mass-consumption and fast-fashion.
As far as I am concerned, I always favour vegetable tanning over regular tanning using hazardous products. Maybe even more importantly, I simply stopped over-consuming shoes! And next time I need a new pair, I will turn to La Botte Gardiane, a french ethical and traditionnal brand which locally handcrafts shoes.
Regarding my leather jacket, I turned to a small swedish company called Deadwood. My jacket is made out of discarded leather that would have otherwise gone to waste (and I even managed to grab it at a discounted price)!
And if you’re luckier than me, you might also find a second-hand jacket that fits you perfectly for a real good price!
So, here are the reasons behind my choice to carry on wearing leather until plant-based alternatives are really ready (and I hope they will be soon)!
Now, what about you? What are your views on that topic? Have you any good alternatives yet?
And please, remember to remain kind and constructive in the comment section!
To go a bit further:
- Leather Is More Than “a By-Product of the Meat Industry” / One Green Planet
- Is wearing fur morally worse than wearing leather? / The Guardian
- Bringing attention to the fur industry / NY Times
- Don’t hide from the truth / The Guardian