So, this is a question every vegan comes to at some point: to faux-leather (or faux-fur) or not to?
My previous solution was to make it clear that I did not support skin clothing by not wearing anything that resembled it. It helped that most of the faux-furs and faux-leathers in my budget were cheesy (can I use cheesy? 🙂 knock offs.
I wore canvas shoes, for example.
Then, for the holiday season, my husband bought me a pair of really cool looking faux-leather riding boots and a matching faux-leather jacket. I am thrilled. They’re beautiful and well made but don’t support the leather industry directly. (Maybe they lend tacit approval by looking fabulous.)
The difficulty is when you’re trying to explain why you don’t want to accept a leather belt or wool sweater and the person you’re talking to looks you up and down.
I think these faux products have a place. Especially in historical reenactments, the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), LARPs (Live Action Role Play), and Cosplays for vegans and vegetarians who don’t want to compromise their ethics while playing along.
[I also still have animal-based products (mostly in my gear for the above mentioned hobbies, but no longer in my regular wardrobe) that I’m very attached to. Some I hand sewed or wove. Some I thought were more authentic, more beautiful because of their material. It’s kind of an area of cognitive dissonance for me. I haven’t really been able to say goodbye to this stuff out right, though I will work towards finding vegan alternatives and gifting these items as time goes on.]
Anyway, I’m prepared to point out to others that my jacket and boots are not real leather if asked. I might even take the time if I get another up-and-down-judgy look. But there will be so many more people who will make assumptions about my integrity and not ask. There is that running joke about the vegetarian in leather shoes. I was that guy, or gal, I guess who didn’t eat meat, but couldn’t find a viable alternative to her hiking boots when working as a Natural Areas Ranger.
So this begs the question. Should I avoid faux-leather (unless maybe for reenactment / costuming purposes) ? Many vegans say that wearing faux-fur normalizes fur and has led to greater acceptance in our society. Does this also apply to leather? I mean, wearing leather is so universal that it is invisible. People don’t really think of leather as dead skin. So if I avoid faux-leather, will it have any effect? Probably not to strangers.
But to those I know, it could. I will no doubt remain conscious of how real it looks (and that it is made from a petroleum product), but I think I’m safe to give it a try. Maybe it’ll spark an important conversation for someone.
How about you? What do you think about faux-leather? Faux-fur? Are there places where it is more acceptable?
Until next time, keep that talk walking!