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Go Green: Plant-Based Alt Leather Gets Vegan Thumbs Up

Just in time for Veganuary, a cellulose-based leather alternative employed by apparel and footwear companies has received a seal of approval trusted by animal lovers worldwide.

Vogue, the brainchild of materials manufacturer Texon, is now Vegan Society certified, meaning that it’s verifiably free of ingredients, byproducts or derivatives that involve animals or animal testing.

“This is an important milestone in the history of Texon Vogue, which is used across an array of consumer and fashion applications,” Holger Hoffmann, general manager at Texon Germany and France and director of exports at Texon, said in a statement.

Described as a “durable and practical” washable paper, Vogue comprises 100 percent Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood pulp that has been put through the paces of Oeko-Tex-approved production and finishing. It provides a leather-effect touch and feel, with high stitch, tear and wet strength that can withstand washing without shrinking or stretching. Potential uses include denim labels, luggage tags, footwear and leather goods.

Texon also makes a “vintage version” of Vogue, dubbed Vintex, using a tanning process that imbues the material with a wrinkled appearance while leaving its technical properties untouched.

“As demand for Texon Vogue continues to grow, we are delighted that we can now officially brand the range ‘vegan friendly,’” Hoffmann said. “The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark is a powerful symbol that’s instantly recognized by consumers worldwide. It is great to be able to use this hallmark of quality, which reinforces our diligence, our ethics and our commitment to creating products that have minimal impact on the environment and the world around us.”

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The Vegan Society covers more than 58,000 products under its imprimatur, which requires companies to complete a series of in-depth audits and disclose all raw materials and processing chemicals used during manufacturing. Texon’s suppliers and their partners, Hoffman said, were also involved in the certification process, providing evidence—and assurances—that the ingredients they source for use in Texon Vogue are also cruelty-free.

Vogue joins Mylo, a leather alternative formed from mushroom roots, in receiving its vegan bonafides. The Bolt Threads product cleared Eurofins Chem-MAP’s Vegan Verification program, which involves next-generation DNA sequencing analysis, in September.

“The Chem-MAP team [is] proud to award the Vegan Verification mark to Mylo in recognition of this vegan material innovation,” Georgina Mawer, head of Eurofins Chem-MAP’s Vegan Verification program, said at the time. “Bolt Threads’ world-class scientists and engineers are demonstrating that it is possible to develop high-quality, vegan materials made using green chemistry and no animal DNA.”

A survey from the Vegan Society, published in August, found that 95 percent of British consumers want to see “more vegan-verified clothes, bags, shoes and accessories on the high-street and online.” Of those polled, 37 percent deemed the use of cow leather as cruel, and more than half (54 percent) denounced the use of calf leather. A significant portion—74 percent—of respondents said they would pay more for plant-based leather compared with their animal-derived counterparts. Nearly half (42 percent) said they believed plant-based leather was more sustainable, while 34 percent said it seemed more ethical.

Analysts at Infinium Global Research estimate that the vegan leather market will be worth nearly $90 billion by 2025. Global demand for the material, they said, has experienced a “paradigm shift,” with a growing number of applications across the fashion, furnishing and automotive industries.

Texon itself said last March that it has seen a “significant uplift” in interest in its Vogue material over the past five years, something it attributes to the increasing number of people switching over to vegan lifestyles.

“Texon Vogue is an incredibly versatile material, from a sustainable source, which offers designers limitless creative possibilities,” Hoffman said. “We’ve really seen its appeal grow over the last few years as many brands have joined the plant-based movement and started to actively embrace the use of vegan-friendly materials in the design of mainstream product lines.”