The time to tell and write things as they are

To tell it like it is and write it down is a particularly authoritative publication: Forbes. Under the lens of its analysis and the fire of its (not at all rhetorical) questions, one of the great bluffs of fashion marketing has ended up: the so-called ‘vegan leather’. Deceptive terminology banned in Italy by law, a lexical trick misleading the consumer’s cognition, a misleading definition that (fortunately) is increasingly raising doubts and perplexity 


The time will come when no one will (voluntarily or involuntarily) fall into misunderstanding anymore. It will arrive on the wave of another moment, the present one, in which the time has fortunately come to say and write things as they are. And to do so are specialised publications or insiders involved in the various levels and sectors of the fashion and leather industry. To do so, in a piece published online in recent weeks and which you can read in its entirety by clicking here, is Forbes.

Not just any newspaper but an authoritative economic voice that reverberates around the world from the United States. What did it write, then? Simple: that so-called ‘vegan leather‘ is a bit like what the Sex Pistols were called. If they were said to be the ‘great rock’n’roll swindle’, ‘vegan leather’ (a term banned by law in Italy) is the ‘great fashion system swindle‘.

Saying and writing things as they are

Forbes attacks the topic head-on by asking uncomfortable questions, given the general trend. For example: what is the difference between animal and vegetable ‘leather’? And why has ‘vegan’ become shorthand for ‘sustainable’? And, for example, the answer is as follows: ‘Vegan, as far as leather is concerned, is a marketing term and not a description of the components of a material,’ one reads. It is a custom filtered through from food to fashion. In food, it is taken for granted that a portion of food is vegan because it is vegetable and not the animal. In fashion, it is not so because much of what they call vegan leather is actually plastic’.

A problem of misinformation 

Forbes, therefore, writes in bold: ‘There is a problem of veg misinformation on the leather‘. A problem that has, for those who profit from the confusion, noticeable economic returns. The US publication, in fact, investigates the world of alternative materials to leather in the light of their economic and media success. The truth is that they attract investment and make prestigious business deals. “Are they sustainable? – asks the paper itself – And do they really have less of an environmental impact than leather?”.

They are certainly not comparable in performance. “There are interesting and innovative products coming onto the market,’ acknowledges Anya Hindmarch, ‘we will make our evaluations. But my research shows me that leather, from sustainable sources and responsibly tanned, is the best solution’.

Clearer than that

“I don’t think there is such a thing as plant-based leather,” says Bill Amberg, interior designer. “There are non-wovens that are also good: we use some of them. But if I have to evaluate them as alternatives to animal leather, I say they are not strong enough, durable enough, or repairable enough. They have no character and are too expensive. They are completely different. More straightforward than that, it is difficult to say and write. Let us, however, all begin to do so.

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