Leather alternatives

At NQ London we asked if man-made leather alternatives such and PU and fur-like materials are always the best choice? Are these materials giving the impression that leather and fur are socially and ethically acceptable. In order to consider leather alternatives we need to identify them.What are the leather alternatives that don't actually look like leather and are aesthetically appealing in their own right? We have listed a few we discovered and quite surprised at what we found and how appealing they can be for clothes and accessories.1.CorkBetter known for use as floor tiling. Water-resistant and organic cork is widely regarded as being one of the most ecologically friendly materials around. It’s easily recycled, completely natural, and using cork oak forests for industry, helps prevent desertification and deforestation.Examples of cork can be found in the collections of brands like Chanel and Louboutin, as well as smaller, more eco-friendly ones.2.Waxed Cotton

Waxed Cotton is a great substitute for leather. It has long been used for jeans and bags. It's pliable, washable and waterproof to a degree. Many brands of jeans have been using waxed cotton for quite some time.3.Coolstone LeatherThis is a brand new kind of leather. It's made from sewable slate stone and has a matte grey finish. It actually looks and feels a bit like paper combined with stone. It has an old battered leather look. As it ages the little scratches that form on it make it look like a well-worn stone. It also softens even further as it ages. A fairly new material but it’s got a lot of potential for replacing PU and even leather in the future.

4.PaperYes paper. It may be hard to believe that paper can be as strong as leather. Bottega created a bag from paper a few years ago. Carta Giapponese is an elegant clutch woven from delicate paper. The paper comes from the fast growing kozo tree.  The only issue with this bag is that Bottega then lined the finished bag using silk and it is not clear whether this silk is natural or a man-made substitute.leather alternativesOther designers, such as Paper Handbags by Ilvy Jacobs and Engage Green have also made incredible use of paper in their designs.5.PinatexThis is made from wasted parts of the pineapple bush. It is 100% eco friendly, vegan friendly and is also ethical in the sense that it gives pineapple farmers yet another source of income from their crops. The material feels like cowhide leather. It is watertight and very durable. We are seeing more shoe and bag designers using this material.These are just a few. We have also discovered mushroom leather, recycled tyres, tree bark leather and rubber in many forms. Rubber forms part of neoprene, the same fabric as our bags, which makes them vegan, versatile and very appealing and tactile.As our awareness for choosing a more humane and caring world increases, the range of materials grows. The days of hemp and hessian as the only alternatives choices seems a long way behind us now. We look forward to discovering yet more choice.