Two vegan bloggers debate whether vegans should wear second-hand leather items for ethical or environmental reasons…
The best thing about being a vegan fashion blogger is that I get to use my voice for change, and inspire others to make changes for the animals and our planet. Should vegans wear second-hand leather? I am going to be telling you why not to buy or wear any leather it if you really want to make a difference.
Second-hand leather is still an animal product and to be more specific it is the skin of an animal. You cannot be vegan and wear any kind of leather because the message you are giving out is that it is OK to kill animals for their skin. How can you be changing the world for animals and still promote wearing their skin? People might even be encouraged to buy more leather if they see you wearing it, which means you are directly influencing the killing and enslavement of more animals.
I believe in standing up for something completely. Wearing leather, second hand or not, is not vegan and it is still promoting the use of animals for their skin. Vegans wearing second-hand leather promotes the enslavement of animals. This can also confuse others about what veganism really is: ultimately it is not just about the food you consume but it is about a compassionate way of living and respecting all living beings. Can you really promote a compassionate lifestyle by wearing second-hand leather? If you really want to make a change, ditch all leather and inspire others to buy and wear fashion that does not include the skin of animals.
If enough people are seen making these changes, we can really improve the world for animals. It is only when we completely stop something that the change will actually happen.
I believe that in the right context — where you already own a leather item — it is OK for vegans to wear leather, or even keep leather items in their home. Many people cannot afford to replace things like leather sofas or chairs that they have owned since before going vegan.
The leather industry is very harmful in terms of chemicals and letting those skins go to landfill creates even more toxic waste. People don’t realise that one of the fashion industry’s biggest impacts on the planet is caused by its use of leather.
If you want to buy second-hand leather, the resale market is an optimal solution. With the rising awareness surrounding sustainability, shopping vintage is the way to go. Take a look at the luxury online consignment store Vestiaire Collective (vestiairecollective.com), where you’ll find everything from leather bags to jackets. These items already exist and should be used for the duration of their life.
Dutch artist and graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, Hendrickje Schimmel, uses second-hand leather pieces from charity shops, eBay and markets, and deconstructs them partially before stitching them back into new shapes and patterns. Young fashion designers are now seeking new alternatives for sourcing materials that are less costly while satisfying the consumer demands of them (whilst ensuring designers’ processes don’t negatively impact the Earth).
If you feel uncomfortable about wearing leather, donate your pre-loved leather to charity or contact local furniture upholsterers who can repurpose your old pieces.