Many people wear leather on the grounds that it's a byproduct of the meat industry, but the reality looks quite different. An animals skin is one of the most lucrative parts of it's body, which means that for farmers trying to maximise their profit,often the meat actually becomes the byproduct of the leather industry.
Leather also has amongst the highest environmental issues thanks to the tanning process, which is often done with chrome, a strong carcinogenic, which is often dumped without filter into drinkable water streams, often supplying entire villages. Livestock per se has one of the highest greenhouse gas emissions, with high levels of CO2 and even methane.
However, if leather is ethically sourced and dyed I will make the case for its durability. We do have a lot of vegan leather alternatives, but since they are all still quite new, their durability is still to be tested. In the name of not producing more waste, I find the durability of a product extremely important.
With this being said I don't necessarily think we should be buying new leather items and supporting a cruel and toxic industry, but I will make the case for secondhand and vintage leather.
I know some hard-core vegans may disagree with me here and refuse to wear it all together, but I think a few things should be considered here. By buying a second-hand piece you are not supporting the leather industry, as money doesn't go into their pockets, you are not producing additional waste by buying something that has already been produced and is in circulation, plus its natural and therefore biodegradable in time. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about leather produced in the past, but I find it would be disrespectful to the animal to throw all of these pieces away instead of buying buying a couple of these pieces and wearing them with love for a lifetime, before passing them on to the next person.
However I will say that there is one concern with wearing leather, even when vintage: setting a trend. When certain items become "in fashion" they are suddenly mass produced by every fast fashion retailer on the high street which can be quite scary. But I suppose if we buy quite particular items and always emphasise them being one-of-a-kind vintage finds, maybe we could start getting more people passionate about secondhand clothing!
Let me know what you think in the comments below, would love to hear your opinion as this is quite a tricky topic!
Top: from Asos but bought second-hand in a charity shop | Pants: really old from a fast fashion brand, over 300 wears by now | Shoes: old #30wears ballerinas I keep changing the sole of | Suede Vest: vintage from Brick Lane market
THE SUSTAINABILITY FACTOR:
This is an outfit of pieces that I've had for the longest time, the white shirt I bought second-hand for £6, proving second-hand shopping is cheaper! And the jacket is a vintage find, #zerowaste!
explore how I have previously worn some of the items in this post