Fashion, as we know it today, has evolved over the years tremendously. Designers have explored various styles, dresses, and colors to make their creations stand out in the world of fashion. An essential part of the making of their clothes is their choice of material. Leather is an obvious choice to make their dresses classy and stylish. But here lies a problem- leather is a product that uses the hides of animals. The process of obtaining leather is harmful to animals and the environment. Using leather for the sake of fashion, directly and indirectly, affects climate change too. Consequently, leather-free fashion is now on the rise to tackle this problem. The fashion industry is now finding alternatives that best resemble leather for better sustainability.
Why you should not be wearing leather fashion
The process of obtaining leather is a torturous one. First, animals-most often cows- are killed to peel their skin off. Sometimes, tanners peel off their skin while they are still alive, causing them excruciating pain. They then tan the skin with chemicals, and the final product is made, which is used for our clothes. It is a horrifying process to think about. The leather-making industry kills billions of animals every year to produce leather.
Making leather clothes also indirectly affects the environment. Even though leather is a by-product of the meat industry, the chemicals used to make the finished product are toxic and cause environmental harm. People who work with such chemicals are also at risk of worsening their health. In fact, leather is the most polluting material in the fashion industry. Thus, by buying leather, we indirectly contribute to animal cruelty and risk harming the environment.
If not leather, what else?
There are so many alternatives that are instead of leather. They include using natural fibers and plant-based materials. Using such sustainable materials to make leather is often referred to as ‘vegan leather.’ It resembles leather in both its texture and feel. Makers of vegan leather use cork, tomato composite, flowers, apple peels, and even recyclable plastics.
Vegan leather is also recyclable and biodegradable, meaning it will not release toxic chemicals into the environment. As a result, the use of vegan leather is increasingly gaining attention around the world. Many brands have adopted using vegan leather for its benefits over traditional leather.
In recent years, researchers have been making efforts to grow leather artificially. Although lab-made leather has a long way to go before reaching the market, its impact will be substantial in the future, especially in the fashion industry.
Impact of Leather-free fashion on the Indian Fashion Industry
In recent news, 32 Indian designers pledged that they would not be using leather for their clothes in the future. The designers took this pledge on 21st August, also celebrated as World Fashion Day. “This step,” says Darshana Gajare, head of sustainability for Lakme Fashion Week, “is a crucial step in the right direction.” Moreover, this move is a step closer to removing unethical fashion practices in the industry.
Another campaign that is helping promote the use of leather-free fashion is the “Live Leather Free” campaign by Ethik. Ethik is an Indian vegan fashion brand that manufactures shoes, belts, and wallets for men. More campaigns that actively advocate the use of vegan leather will help the fashion industry become more sustainable, making fashion cruelty-free and environmental-friendly.
Notable Indian brands that use vegan leather are PIAO, Aulive, Zouk, and Malai.
Leather-free for the future
Just like the world has started taking note of veganism in food, veganism in fashion is not far behind. With more and more people understanding the harmful impact of using leather in fashion, the vegan leather industry can grow even more in the future. Fashion should not be a source of enjoyment at the cost of animal suffering and the environment. Following this sentiment, the fashion industry can soon remove unethical means by using leather-free outfits. If the trend continues to grow, a fashion revolution that uses eco-friendly materials will quickly take over the fashion industry. This change will benefit the animals, the consumers, and the environment. Buying leather will not make anyone feel guilty anymore. Going leather-free is a win-win situation for all!
Also Read: Ethnic Fashion picks for your wardrobe