Most of us know by now that leather isn’t vegan. But what about other similar materials?
What is suede made of?
Suede is leather made from skin torn from the underside of animals such as lambs, goats, pigs, calves, and deer.
Is suede vegan?
No, suede is not vegan. If you wouldn’t buy fur or leather, you shouldn’t buy suede. Microsuede—a soft material made of millions of fine polyester fibers—is vegan, as are coffee leather and loads of other animal-free, suede-like materials.
What is nubuck?
Like suede, nubuck is just another form of leather. It’s skin that’s been ripped from an animal’s body (just like leather) and sanded down. Nubuck leather is made from cows’ skin.
Wearing suede or nubuck is akin to wearing leather or eating meat—obtaining these materials requires the same cruelty and environmental devastation that the production of leather or beef does.
As with leather, animals must be killed in order to create suede. At slaughterhouses, their throats are cut and some are skinned and dismembered while they’re still alive. And this is after they were born through forced breeding, torn from their families, and made to endure short, dismal lives in a farm setting that was likely miserable.
As with raising animals for meat, raising them for nubuck or other materials requires massive amounts of land and water. The production of these materials contributes to climate change, land devastation, pollution, and water contamination.
And as with leather, suede and nubuck must be treated with dangerous chemicals, which can include formaldehyde and coal-tar derivatives—otherwise, they’d rot on store hangers. These substances have been known to pollute groundwater near tanneries, causing health problems for residents in surrounding areas.
It’s now widely recognized that animal agriculture—including the production of leather made from skin, which releases large quantities of methane and nitrous oxide, both potent greenhouse gases—is a leading contributor to climate change.
Animals, Mother Earth, humans … they all need us to go vegan.
Opting for vegan fashion over leather, suede, nubuck, or any other materials made from animals has never been easier. Banana Republic, Birkenstock, and many other brands and designers have embraced vegan fashion, including vegan leather and suede. Use our quick and easy guide to learn which cruelly obtained materials you need to avoid when shopping: