Veganuary Story: How Polymers saved Animals

veganuary

What is Veganuary?

Since 2014, January has a different connotation than just “January Blues”, due to the launch of Veganuary. Veganuary is the world’s largest vegan movement which inspires individuals and corporations to make more compassionate food choices with the aim of ending animal farming, protecting the planet etc. Undoubtedly, a plant-based diet is the foundation of a vegan lifestyle, but as a society, there are many more ways to incorporate a cruelty-free approach into our everyday lives. Fashion conscious consumers often look for that killer look without being a killer. This sparked the rising demand for leather alternatives with synonyms such as, Pleather, Vegan-leather and Artificial-leather. Veganuary encourages consumers to look into these alternatives.

Historically, leather is obtained from cattle, deer, goats and many other animals. The earliest record of leather artifacts dates back to primitive times (1300BC) when our ancestors would use early forms of leather to create clothing and shelter against harsh environments. In modern days, fashion becomes increasingly more tied with social status. Subsequently, exotic animals such as alligators, ostriches and kangaroo could not escape from being the targets of luxury materials. Fortunately, material science has a proven track record in leading the way in shaping consumer culture. For example, Celluloid is famously known for being the first successful synthetic plastic which substituted ivory and prevented mass slaughtering of elephants.

Presstoff

FabrikoidThe first recorded faux leather called Presstoff, dates back to 19th century, but it became a popular alternative option to leather in Germany during WWII, as it was easily rationed and adaptable upon war environments. It was made from tree pulps, then compressed into layered with a special resin. As its durability is poor, its application was limited to small production items such as gun cases, belts and wallets. It could not be made into shoes as it deteriorated rapidly when in contact with moisture including sweat.

Fabrikoid is an artificial leather that was in development during early 1900s, but DuPont files its first patent on October 23rd,1915 for a “Method of Forming Artificial Leather and the Product thereof”. It was noted as an invention on the basis that it “related to a process of producing coated fabrics whereby an artificial leather of great efficiency and high-quality s produced. At that time, other imitation leather is not durable and relatively permeable to moisture and not very weather resistant. The unique selling point of Fabrikoid is that, the fabric (typically cotton based) is embedded in a pyroxylin jelly coating. The coating consists of nitro cellulose, benzol, ethyl acetate, castor oil and pigments. For these reasons, Fabrikoid was a commercial success, by the 1920s, it was a staple material for furniture upholstery, luggage, convertible car top covers and many other applications.

Naugahyde®

In 1914, the U.S Rubber Plant based in Naugatuck, Connecticut, invented the first-ever rubber based faux leather called Naugahyde. It was essentially a fabric coated with rubber and leather fibre, although it would not be classed as vegan by today’s standard, it was certainly a less cruelty-intense option for its time.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Versus PU Leather

When Pleather is in discussion, PVC & PU are the household names. German inventor Friedrich Klatte was the first to be granted a patent for a polymerisation process to manufacture PVC in 1913 and PVC has been in commercial production since 1933.  PU leather’s fabrication process is more complex than PVC, and it has less layers compared to PVC, its layers have a foam structure. This gives it a unique breathability as a desirable property but not as durable compared to PVC.

Modern Vegan-Leather

The aforementioned artificial-leather alternatives were mainly derived because of cost-effectiveness or raw-material availability. Intentional or not, they do contribute towards a more cruelty-free consumer culture. Although some of this faux leather fabric prevents mass slaughtering of animals, it is ironic that they are associated with some negative environmental impact that affects our eco-system due to the inevitable generation of toxic substances.

Fortunately, modern manufacturers are fast-tracking the development of vegan AND environmentally-friendly materials which could be a new generation of pleather. This includes vegetable oil leather which has superior durability compared to PVC & PU leather. Banana Leather

(https://36chambers.com/collections/accessories/products/cloud-camo-bifold-banana-leaf-paper), which are derived from the fibres of banana plant stems that are typically discarded, it is waterproof and biodegradable.

Piñatex (https://www.ananas-anam.com/) is an innovative vegan-leather made from pineapple leaf fibres. Once again, reutilising the by-product from a material value-chain which aside from being a cruelty-free product, it also helps with reducing landfill pressure.

Impact Solutions is not afraid to challenge the status quo, and we believe that renewable and cruelty-free products is the driver towards a more sustainable future. We are persistent in high-quality and durable materials because longevity matters to discourage fast-fashion. Our diverse testing capabilities combine with our comprehensive expertise mean we can carry out a broad range of bespoke and performance testing on conventional pleather as well as novelty leather-alternatives. This includes testing of its breaking strength, tear strength, adhesion of coating, abrasion resistance and even flammability. We also have experience in testing corrosion produced by composite-leather in accordance with ASTM D 1611 standard.

Aesthetics is often a key factor for vegan-leather apparels, Impact also offers the testing of colourfastness to light, which investigates the damage imposed on the material by sunlight. We can simulate outdoor weathering and expose the material to cycling UV light, moisture and above & beyond room temperature range to really test the pleather’s limitations.

Are you interested in veganuary and what it represents? We challenge you to be a conscious consumer, if you wish to discover more legitimate Vegan-leather alternatives, you can click here (https://www.peta.org.uk/living/peta-approved-vegan/?utm_source=PETA%20UK::Google&utm_medium=Ad&utm_campaign=1020::veg::PETA%20UK::Google::s-grant-dsa::::searchad&gclid=CjwKCAiAo5qABhBdEiwAOtGmblMNHOXzSVZivWH4NAa1Q42X_yUVZFFgx3WhPWlQNWmc1VDsvkYjLBoCCZYQAvD_BwE) for more PETA-approved Vegan fashion.