Vegan or Faux Leather

Vegan or faux leather is an artificial alternative to traditional animal leather. It's made from a variety of materials, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU), and other innovative plant-based materials. It's designed to mimic the look and feel of genuine leather without using animal products.

Faux Leather Key Qualities

Animal-Free: One of the primary reasons consumers opt for vegan leather is to avoid products derived from animals, either for ethical or environmental reasons.

Diverse Appearance: Faux leather can be produced in a wide range of colors, textures, and finishes, making it versatile for various shoe designs.

Durability: While its longevity can vary based on the quality and type, some high-quality vegan leathers can be quite durable and resistant to wear.

Water-Resistant: Unlike natural leather, which can absorb water and may require treatments to be water-resistant, many vegan leathers inherently repel water.

Cost-Effective: Generally, vegan leather is less expensive than high-quality genuine leather, making it a cost-effective choice for many manufacturers and consumers.

Applications in Shoemaking

Fashion Footwear

Vegan leather is widely used in trendy shoes, from heels to flats and everything in between.

Athletic Shoes

Some athletic shoes incorporate vegan leather components for aesthetic or structural purposes.


Many boots, especially those marketed as cruelty-free or vegan, utilize faux leather.


Vegan leather can be found in various sandal designs, offering a leather-like appearance without using animal products.

Considerations working with Vegan leather


One common critique of faux leather is that it's less breathable than genuine leather, which can affect foot comfort in some shoe designs.

Environmental Impact 

While vegan leather avoids the ethical concerns of animal farming, some types, especially those based on PVC, have environmental drawbacks due to their production processes and non-biodegradability. However, newer, more sustainable vegan leather alternatives are emerging, such as those derived from mushrooms, pineapples, and other plant sources.


Vegan leather shoes may require different care than genuine leather shoes. For example, they might not benefit from traditional leather conditioners and might require specific cleaning agents.

Types of vegan

1.Polyurethane (PU) Leather

This is a type of synthetic leather made from thermoplastic polymer. It's flexible, durable, and is often used in the fashion industry due to its ability to mimic the texture and appearance of genuine leather.

2.Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Leather

Another synthetic leather, PVC leather is made by adding plasticizers to PVC. It's less breathable than PU leather and has faced criticism for its environmental impact.


Derived from the fibers of pineapple leaves, Piñatex is a sustainable alternative to both synthetic and animal leather. It's lightweight, breathable, and has a unique texture.

4.Mushroom Leather (Mylo™) 

Made from mycelium, the root system of fungi, mushroom leather is biodegradable and has a texture similar to genuine leather.

5.Apple Leather

Made from apple peels and cores, this is a newer type of vegan leather that's gaining popularity for its sustainability and unique texture.

6.Grapes Leather (Wine Leather)

Derived from grape waste, a byproduct of the wine industry, this type of vegan leather is sustainable and has a texture similar to traditional leather.

7.Cactus Leather

Made from cactus leaves, this type of vegan leather is sustainable, partially biodegradable, and has a smooth texture.

8.Lab-Grown Leather

While still in its early stages, scientists are working on producing leather in labs using cellular agriculture, without the need for raising and killing animals.

9.Recycled Rubber

While not exactly a type of leather, recycled rubber is often used as a vegan alternative for shoe soles and other components.


Many textiles, like cotton, polyester, nylon, and others, are inherently vegan and are used extensively in shoemaking. Some specific textiles, like Gore-Tex®, offer unique properties like waterproofing.


A type of synthetic rubber, neoprene is flexible, water-resistant, and is often used in athletic shoes and water shoes.

12.EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)

A type of foam, EVA is lightweight, flexible, and is often used for shoe midsoles.

13.TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers)

These are a class of copolymers that mimic the properties of rubber and are often used in shoe soles and other components.

I want you to know that the pattern construction for your vegan shoe project is the same as it is for leather shoes, maybe with a small variation if you decide to use fabric for the upper, like we do in the Fashinable Flat Ballet Shoes from Fabric Course.

Remember, while all these materials are vegan (i.e., they don't use animal products), their environmental impact can vary. Some, like Piñatex or mushroom leather, are more sustainable than others, like PVC. It's essential to consider both the ethical and environmental implications when choosing materials.

Online stores to buy Vegan or Faux leather

Here are some online stores where you can purchase various  vegan leather types for shoemaking:

All Shoemaking Supplies 

If you want to make shoes there is no way around it, you will need knifes, hammers, leather, glue, shanks, boards, and everything else to get the job done.
For that purpose I have created a detailed list of everything you need to make shoes.