Vegetable Tanned vs. Vegan Leather - Why Faux Isn't As Sustainable As Real Leather



Pagerie is a solution to what was missing on the market for our canines and owners globally. In this series, All In The Details, we break down the distinct aspects of what makes Pagerie a house rooted in ultra-luxury and historical craftsmanship for the companions that bring us joy.

When crafting Pagerie, our founder, Mandy Madden Kelley, wavered between utilizing real or faux leather. But with a keen focus on sustainability, Mandy knew that going with vegetable-tanned leather was the best option. Not only for the environment, but for the array of canines that would be donning Pagerie.

Providing some colour into her carefully crafted chosen fabrication, here Mandy reveals why vegetable-tanned leather is an eco-friendly alternative, the EU guidelines in which she strictly abides by, and the importance of textile durability.

Q: How would you describe the texture and wear of Pagerie’s leather?

A: Leather is one of those materials that can ignite a very visceral experience. Just watch someone as they receive a gift made from leather. The first thing they do is bring it up to their face, breathe in the air, and feel it with their thumbs, both the dimples and the edges. There are not many materials that elicit such a primitive experience activating your visual sense, smell, and touch.

Instinctually, you take better care of leather and we have reverence for the material. In terms of weight, it is not heavy, but it has a density to it.

Q: What was the impetus behind choosing vegetable-tanned leather?

A: Vegetable tanning offers an eco-friendly alternative. Most tanners use chromium, and these often get dumped as liquid, sludge, or solid waste and include harsh chemicals. Due to the gentle processes involving several weeks of treatment, vegetable-tanned leather has a much longer life than chrome-tanned leather.


Q: What makes Pagerie’s leather sustainable?

A: First, our cow vegetable-tanned leather is biodegradable. It is REACH-certified, so it follows EU guidelines on reducing harmful chemical waste. REACH also promotes alternative methods for the hazard assessment of substances to reduce the number of tests on animals.

Because of the craftsmanship and centuries-old traditional techniques used, the vegetable tanning process results in leather with a distinct appearance and unmatched durability. Vegetable-tanned leather also ensures the material’s durability, so it will not have to be replaced, thus reducing waste.

Q: What makes Pagerie’s leather more sustainable than vegan leather?

A: The most popular alternative to leather (synthetic vegan leather) is essentially plastic. Polyurethane leather is made from petroleum, which is also bad for the planet. Our vegetable-tanned leather is extremely durable and has longevity that plastic does not have. Also, plastics can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. PVC faux leather undergoes multiple chemical processes to get it to mimic real leather, which is toxic and derived from fossil fuels.