What Vegan Leather Harness is Best for My Dog?
For decades, leather dog harnesses have been the gold standard for quality, and the top choice for dog owners everywhere.
But in recent years, consumers have become increasingly aware of leather’s impact on animal welfare, as well as the environment.
It’s no wonder, then, why more pet owners are turning to vegan leather harnesses, not to mention collars, leashes, and even pet waste bags.
But like any good owner, you want the best for your dog, and you deserve the best vegan leather available.
In order to understand what vegan leather harnesses are most worth your money, it’s important to understand what vegan leather is, and what makes a high-quality piece.
Join us on this deep dive, in which we’ll discuss what vegan leather is, its cost, and whether or not it’s truly sustainable.
What Vegan Leather is Made Of
Of course, we all know where traditional leather comes from: animal hides.
But have you ever wondered what vegan leather is made of, and how it’s made?
Typically, vegan leather is made with either polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU), which are essential plastic-based materials.
And because they’re plastics, it’s true that PU and PVC have some disadvantages, although it's worth mentioning that traditional leather has its own faults, as well (see “Is Vegan Leather Sustainable?”).
These days, we see a lot less PVC leather on the market, as PU tends to have a far more leather-like appearance and feel. This is why we chose PU for our walking supplies at KOSTON (more on that later).
Vegan Leather vs Faux Leather
You’ve heard the terms thrown around: vegan leather and faux leather. So what’s the difference, anyway?
As it turns out, vegan leather and faux leather are pretty much the same thing–you can also call it PU leather, leather substitute, fake leather, or pleather.
However, you can also argue that vegan leather and faux leather are two very distinct ideas, with differing histories and intentions.
To begin, “faux leather” was developed in the 1920s by an American rubber plant in Naugatuck, Connecticut, naturally dubbed “Naugahyde”. As a fabric coated in vinyl, Naugahyde emulates the look and feel of leather at a fraction of the price.
Now, while Naugahyde certainly fits the definition of “vegan leather,” nobody would have called it that in the 20s.
Because that phrase wasn’t yet known!
In fact, the term “vegan leather” has only entered the conversation over the past decade or so.
And really, the distinction between “vegan leather” and “faux leather” is all about the intention: while “faux leather” is about cutting costs, “vegan leather” is all about sustainability.
While it’s easy to disregard this difference between these two terms, it’s important to understand that the language of “vegan leather” has redefined a material that was once viewed as “cheap.”
More than that, the term “vegan leather” has created a much more open discussion about how to make it more ethical, resulting in new solutions like plant-derived vegan leather, and vegan leather materials made with post-consumer plastics.
How Much Does Vegan Leather Cost?
According to the retailer Liberty Leather Goods, vegan leather is typically far more affordable compared to natural leather options. For instance, a 20 sq. ft. high-quality cowhide might cost around $150 USD, while the same quantity of vegan leather would cost around $12.
While the price can certainly vary based on the quality, you can pretty much always expect it to be cheaper than regular leather.
But can it compete with natural leather’s durability?
How Does Vegan Leather Hold Up?
Let’s face it: vegan leather harnesses have a bit of a bad rap, known for chipping, peeling and pilling.
However, vegan leather has drastically changed over the past 10 years–for the better.
Nowadays, vegan leather has become far more durable and longer-lasting, not to mention better-looking. Plus, it’s water-resistant, which is especially great for a rugged pup.
And as its quality has continued to improve, it’s even gained the attention of several luxury brands: according to Vogue Magazine, brands like Stella McCartney and JW Pei have found what vegan leathers make the best handbags; you’ll even find vegan leather in fashion houses like Gucci, these days!
Still, it’s important to note that not all vegan leather is created equal, and many of the cheaper options will rapidly degrade. That’s why it’s generally better to spend a little more on the longer lasting options.
And like animal hide, vegan leather will also last longer when it’s taken care of. Ensure your vegan leather lasts longer with the following tips:
- Keep out of direct sunlight and away from heat
- Condition with baby oil or a leather conditioner (always test on a small area first)
- Spot clean with a mixture of tepid water and gentle, alcohol-free soap
Is Vegan Leather Sustainable?
As it continues to grow in popularity, many folks are curious about what vegan leather can do for the environment, and whether it’s more sustainable than traditional leather.
When it comes to sustainability, there are disadvantages to both–with vegan leather, the main issue is that plastic is the main component.
Even with plant-based alternatives like apple leather or pineapple leather, it turns out that PU is actually what makes up most of the material in these products, as shown by the Circular Laboratory.
However, animal leather isn’t so great on the planet, either.
For starters, the leather industry is not only notorious for exploiting animals and drastically increasing greenhouse gas emissions, but the process to turn hides into leather, known as tanning, involves a number of harsh chemicals, according to Harper’s Bazaar UK.
These chemicals pollute the environment when leaks occur, and they’ve even posed health risks for employees doing the tanning, causing serious issues like reproductive failure, kidney damage, and lung cancer, according to ECOPOL.
While vegan leather is not without its issues, it’s widely argued that its damaging effects are still not as devastating as vegan leather.
But with more and more innovators entering the vegan leather conversation, we’re sure to uncover more sustainable methods very soon.
In the meantime, your best option is to find a vegan leather harness you want to keep for years, and we’re here to deliver on the perfect one.
What Vegan Leather Harness is Best for My Dog?
It doesn’t take a textile expert to recognize high-quality vegan leather: you know it immediately from the look, feel, and wear of it.
And you know it when you see a KOSTON Essential Harness.
While most vegan leather harnesses feature cheap, fast-wearing plastics, KOSTON’s founders went the distance to source a PU leather with a buttery, luxurious feel and durable finish.
Today, KOSTON crafts every vegan leather harness with high-quality vegan leather that’s breathable, stylish, and built to last.
But what vegan leather harnesses really need is a great fit, comfort, and style. And KOSTON checks every box.
Featuring minimal straps in a stylish array of color, stunning gold zinc alloy buckles are strategically placed on the side of the harness for easy wearing.
And while even some of the best vegan leather harnesses feature PU as the only material, KOSTON designs their harnesses with comfort in mind. That’s why every harness is lined with high-quality canvas ribbon for a comfortable, breathable wear that’s still stylish.