Recently I have been learning more about ethical fashion and ethical fabrics and I came to the dilemma of vegan leather versus pre-loved real leather. In my mind, I had lots of pros and cons regarding this. Notice that I started this blog wanting to bring everyone that, like me, loves designer and quality fashion, vegan alternatives. I have a guest post from a while back written by Megan with her favourite vegan luxury handbag brands, you can check it out here. But, if you aren't really into Stella McCartney or Angela Roi styles, you are left with cheaper quality or poor design and not many good designs to choose from, most often made from fast fashion brands.

I have been really giving this a serious thought as I feel like both choices aren't the best either way!

In my conscious, if I buy a designer bag that happens to not contain leather (for example my Love Moschino handbag), I feel safe to say I don't feel like a terrible person for owning it but, perhaps, who sees me wearing it would just simply assume it is made of leather. Even vegan leather bags for someone not knowledgeable would simply assume it is leather. So that kind of defeats the whole purpose for me, regarding encourage other people to not buy real leather. Also buying brand new vegan handbags is creating more waste (eventually) and again that doesn't help the environment. But on the other hand, the option of buying second-hand designer bags that are not vegan is a bit terrifying for the fact of the judgment that you would probably get from others.

But perhaps, wouldn't this be a better option for the environment? Let me lay out the pros and cons:

Vegan Leather


  • Made from artificial materials, it's basically plastic
  • Usually not from an ethical brand (if it is from a fast fashion brand)
  • Quality really varies which makes it less durable
  • Some items use petroleum-derived materials, which are toxic to the health
  • Materials such as PVC are not breathable (stinky feet? no, thank you)
  • PVC and PU can't biodegrade


  • Most times, they are more affordable than real leather
  • It doesn't contribute to animal cruelty
  • It can be made in colors that real leather can't provide
  • There's no toxic tanning process 
Real leather


  • If bought new, it is not animal-friendly (obviously)
  • Opposite to what most people think, leather is not a by-product of meat, animals are actually bred and killed just for their skin (just like fur)
  • The tanning process can be extremely toxic
  • Real leather has, usually a higher price tag, especially if it is designer


  • It is very resistant to time and wear
  • It's biodegradable
  • If bought second hand it's not contributing to animal cruelty or demand
  • There is a higher offer available of quality pieces and designs


In one hand, I really feel like buying a second-hand leather handbag that I truly enjoy but in the other hand I feel like it's not right to do it and that I need to 'prove' my vegan lifestyle by only buying faux leather items.

Do you consider real leather bad if it's purchsed secon-hand regardless or you make exceptions for it?

What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments!

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