The Impact of Leather

Baby Cow Photo By Amber Kipp Ethical Alternatives to Leather
Above image courtesy of Amber Kipp, cover photo courtesy of Janko Ferlic both on Unsplash


Written by Stella | Stylist & Blogger @ The Lunary

Did you know that many leather jackets are made in countries like India and China - where there are NO animal protection laws? Cows are abused and tortured - sometimes spicy chili pepper is smushed into their eyes to make them keep moving when they stop from exhaustion. Calf‘s skin, which society creepily values for it’s softness (just like babies’ heads?), is made from baby cows who are sometimes taken from the veal industry (where they spend their short lives in a cage so small that they can't even turn around) or sometimes prematurely taken from their mother's wombs... which is sad and gross. 

But if none of that bothers you, there’s environmental impact too. Although many American and European companies use less toxic processes to tan and dye leather, factories in 3rd world countries like China and India still continue to use chemicals that release cancer causing runoff into the water, harming the local communities that depend on that water for their way of life and harming factory workers who handle the toxins on the daily. Even though leather is natural and biodegradable, the processes to make it are not. It also survives for thousands of years, which is one long ass half-life if it ends up in a landfill. (The US honestly can't afford to create more waste since China is no longer accepting our trash or recyclables. Pretty crazy that we would just ship garbage to China in the first place as if that was a sustainable idea in the first place - great long term thinking, team! That's why a closed-loop system is where it's @ bb.)

Also, just because a jacket, bag or shoe says “Made in Italy”, “Made in Spain”, or "Made in USA" doesn’t mean that the leather came from those countries or that it came from more “ethical” farms. These often times higher-end companies could still be sourcing their leather from the same countries as less expensive brands and are essentially paying to abuse helpless animals before ending their short lives so we can stylishly wear their skin on top of our own. Murder...but make it fashion, right?


It doesn't have to be this way!  There is some awesome innovation happening in the textile industry -  just check out Modern Meadow or Bolt Threads and you'll see what I mean.

We need to start supporting these alternatives until they become the new normal because wearing some one else’s skin on top of your own skin is creepy and weird. Although we totally support the use of upcycled and vintage leather, we don’t think the world should be creating new leather from living, breathing, adorable cows. Frankly, it’s an antiquated process of creating textiles and there’s been many advancements and innovations since then. Through awareness, education, innovation, and science, we can create the future and make it better and kind-er than the world today.

Here are a couple upcycled leather brands to get you started: 

  •  Pelechecoco - This brand sources vintage materials and reworks them into a completely new style. They make leather jackets for men and women in the $300-$500 range.
  •  Dear Survivor - This handmade jewelry brand uses recycled leather in some of their most interesting pieces. A portion of the proceeds are also donated to GenerateHope, an organization that helps survivors of human trafficking. 

Plus, any leather-ish product you find on THE LUNARY is always going to be either upcycled / vintage, or made from a vegan material. Check out our collection of  Angela Roi bags below - sophisticated, chic, and crafted from vegan leather. 

Please note this is written from the perspective of personal opinion. Sources include YouTube, The Guardian, PETA, and more.

There are a lot of biased reports on both sides from die hard vegans to people stuck in the past and scared of change ;) Do your own research, challenge us, engage in conversation - and push us to be better as a community. We love to learn from you and to connect with you - reach out to us via email at 

Ethical and Sustainable Style with Angela Roi Ella Ring Handle Bag

Angela Roi

Animal lover and advocate, Roi crafts her handbags from vegan leather and donates a portion of sales to animal rights organizations.