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Pleather ain’t clever no more!

Pleather is a made-up word to mean plastic leather. It was revived as “vegan leather” and as a consequence lauded as an environmentally friendly alternative to real leather. Originally it was made out of pine-apple fibres and the pulp of apples and coconuts; a process that can be carbon neutral. But now it is losing its green credentials and being dropped by some clothing brands.

Pleather or faux leather

Pleather or faux leather. Image: Amazon.

This is because pleather is now used to mean synthetic leather made out of non-biodegradable plastic, polyester, PVC and polyurethane. These plastics require fossil fuels in their manufacture. So, pleather ain’t clever no more 😉.

Trust the manufacturers to screw it up. They had something genuinely eco-friendly and because of their greed (no doubt) they turned it into something which is not eco-friendly. I’m sure it makes more money because it’s cheaper to make pleather out of plastic than it is out of the old way.

Last week Portugal banned the phrases “vegan leather” and “synthetic leather”. The Portuguese authorities are arguing that the phrases are misleading. The French authorities are also under pressure from the tanning industry to do something similar.

Zara and M&S use the term “faux leather” to describe polyurethane-coated polyester. Kayla Marci, of the fashion data company Edited, said: “Faux is still a general term in the retailer lexicon”.

In 2017 pleather hit high fashion when the Hungarian ‘low-impact’ luxury label Natushka was one of the first to use the product for high-fashion in its £545 Hide puffer jacket. This inspired the high street to use pleather more often.

Apparently, their vegan jacket is free of animal derivatives but is made from polyester and polyurethane. Does this, strictly speaking, conform to vegan principles? I don’t think it does, does it?

William Oliver, the chief marketing officer at Natushka, said:

“We have [since] evolved our leather adjacency material to be more responsibly fabricated”. They use recycled plastic bottles and they use a process which keeps water consumption down. They also sell ‘regenerated jackets’ made from reused hide.

“Vegan leather is under scrutiny and rightly so,” said Elizabeth Rhodes of the luggage brand Antler.

My thanks to The Times newspaper. It is the best.

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