The Vegan Faux leather market trend
Companies are focusing on creating a vegan alternative to leather. Rapid growth in the popularity of vegan food - from hamburgers to sausage rolls and chicken alternatives - has shaken up the food industry, he believes his firm can help do the same to the $200bn (£153bn) leather industry.
Items that qualify as vegan or faux leather can be produced from materials as varied as cork, barkcloth, glazed cotton, waxed cotton, paper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polyurethane.
Currently, the most popular alternative to PVC for faux leather is polyurethane. Polyurethane, however, presents its own set of economic and environmental challenges. The chemistry behind it is complicated, which causes the price point to go up, and also creates a wider variation in quality and performance. From an environmental perspective, the main concern with polyurethane-based synthetic leather is that solvents are used. The production process involves painting polyurethane in liquid form onto a fabric backing. Making polyurethane into a liquid requires a solvent, and those can be highly toxic. “The newest versions of polyurethane are using a waterborne coating, and those are a lot better.”
Eventually, he expects the fabric to be used for a variety of purposes, including clothing, shoes, handbags, car and plane interiors and furniture.
“The supply-demand gap in the natural leather industry is another major factor which is responsible for manufacturers opting for artificial alternatives."