It’s no secret the fashion industry is undergoing a crisis. From fast fashion trends creating piles of disposable (but not necessarily degradable) pieces threatening to overflow landfills to divisive debates on natural versus synthetic fabrics in the quest to save both the planet and its wildlife, there’s a push both within the industry and out towards more sustainable and ethical practices.
While fur is rapidly becoming a relic of the past, leather is still a multi-billion dirham material that major fashion houses are hard-pressed to replace. About 3.8 billion cows and other bovine animals are used for leather production annually according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reported sustainability consultant Eco-Age.
Yet, with options of imitation leathers now extending far past the chemically-produced and environmentally-unfriendly fabrics like polyurethane and acrylic, it’s difficult to understand why more labels aren’t making the transition. This year, the debut of Vegan Fashion Week in Los Angeles featured high-quality collections innovated from natural products—such as pineapple leaf, corn, and apple skins—that were spot-on for the real deal. As a fully vegetarian brand that avoids leather, skin, fur, and feathers, British designer Stella McCartney has been an outspoken advocate for luxury eco-fashion since her start in 2001.
“I think one of the biggest compliments is when I know people go in and buy a Falabella bag or a pair of shoes, or a faux leather skirt, and they have no idea they’re not real leather,” said McCartney in a previous interview with Vogue. “I think that’s really where it becomes sexy. Where you’re not just providing an alternative…you’re creating a great product.”
Even if only a few brands are giving up their calfskin and lambskin best-sellers, celebrities are starting to take matters into their own hands. From Kylie Jenner donning a scarlet MSGM ensemble made entirely from python-effect artificial leather and Rihanna bundling up in an oversized Balenciaga coat of both faux leather and faux fur to Lady Gaga stepping out in a full vegan leather dress from Tbilisi-based designer Anouki, it’s clear the young generation of stars are starting to make a more conscious effort to promote cruelty-free alternatives.
Although it may seem that faux leather can only be rocked a few standard ways, click through the gallery above to see this year’s fresh take on the rising trend and stock up on more than just vegan leather jackets.