Leather is a bit of a paradox in that it has a beautiful aesthetic but comes at an ugly cost. I’ve been a vegan for two years now, but just recently, I learned disturbing facts that forever changed my opinion on leather goods. So, prepare to hear the worst, but also prepare to hear how you can change and hopefully prevent this ugly practice.
China is the world’s leading producer of cheap leather, which means that a lot of animals are killed every year to produce purses, gloves, belts, etc. But, what if I were to tell you that dogs make up a large amount of the slaughtered animals to provide cheap leather for you to wear? How does that make you feel to hear that man’s best friend are turned into gloves, belts, and wallets?
According to the Guardian’s report on this issue, “The US banned the importation of dog and cat fur and skin, which is punishable by fines up to $10,000, as part of the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000. But distinguishing dog and cat leather from cow, sheep and pig leather is no easy matter, making it possible for unscrupulous manufacturers to pass off leather from dogs as leather from legal animals. A report by the Congressional Research Service shows that in 2014, the US imported $8.5bn in leather articles from China. It is unknown how much of each year’s total might be dog or cat leather.” Essentially, it is almost impossible to discern dog from other animals like lambs or cows. After the leather is tanned and cured they all look alike, and the only way to prove its species is to use a DNA test; and even that might be difficult since hardly any DNA might be left after all the chemicals used to process it.
According to One Green Planet, “the Chinese Leather Industry Association claims that they have no knowledge of dog leather industry, [however] an undercover investigation from PETA showed that this horrific practice is alive and well in the country.” In November 2014, an undercover investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment (PETA) Asia infiltrated one of the slaughterhouses where dogs were being bludgeoned and skinned to be made into leather. According to PETA, “one employee told the investigator that this facility bludgeons and skins 100 to 200 dogs a day.” Just this one facility kills upwards of 200 dogs per day. I’ll let you do the math per week, per month, per year. Now multiply that figure with however many slaughterhouses you think are doing this in China. No matter how you calculate it, the outcome is too high.
There’s no denying it. This is a horribly gruesome practice. There are currently no laws protecting the slaughter of dogs in China since they are considered livestock, not pets. There are also no laws that dictate how the animals (in this case, dogs) are slaughtered. So, many are bludgeoned to death. This made my heart break to hear about this practice, but I cried upon seeing PETA’s undercover footage showing this practice. In that moment, I felt so helpless. Mainly because, this was happening half-way around the world. What could I possibly do?
Well, after researching, I learned that no matter what you think, there is always something you can do to help. In this case, the most effective way to end this horrible practice is to use the power you have with your money. Let your dollars, your economic decisions, speak for you and say no to leather.
I understand that leather has a nice aesthetic look to it, and if you’re like me then you like the way leather looks. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. That’s why I want to share with you these vegan leather purse brands that provide that beautiful leather appeal without the pain and torture of being made from dogs, or any animal for that matter.
Here are my Top 5 Vegan Leather Purse Brands that offer great quality and affordable prices.
If you are a fan of the Hermes Birkin bag, then you are in for a treat. Gunas offers a Birkin dupe called Hermit that looks fashionable at around $100.
- Urban Expressions
If you are a fan of Chanel boy-bags, then you should check out Urban Expressions Sheena for only $55.
- Melie Bianco
This L.A. based company offers a great selection of fashionable bags. Be sure to check them out at the end of the season for their sales. I ordered two purses from here because they had their buy one get one free promotion. You can easily find purses in the $35-$70 range, plus free shipping on orders more than $50. Just signing up for their newsletter can get you 50% off your first order.
- Matt & Nat
This company offers the most variety with the types of bags they have. They are a little bit pricier with bags ranging from $70-$200. However, they also offer vegan leather shoes and belts. I’m in love with their vegan leather boots for Fall.
- Urban Originals
This is another great brand that sells their bags at retailers like Nordstrom’s and Macy’s, making it easier to find these vegan leather purses in person.
Here are other Brands that are also selling Vegan Leather Purses
- Mod Cloth
- Free People
- Saks Off 5th
Just make sure to type in “vegan leather” in the search engines on their websites and a lot of results will come up for you.
But if want a high-end fashion bag, well there’s also an option there for you. Stella McCartney only sells vegan-leather products. So, you’ll never find any real leather, feathers, or fur at her store, which is awesome!
So, just remember that the cost of cheap leather from China is a lot higher than you might think. But, you don’t have to let any dogs, or any animal for that matter, die for your fashion. All you need is vegan leather in your life. And with every dollar spent on this material, you help drive the economic push towards sustainable fashion without ending a single life. Hopefully, someday soon, the practice of killing dogs for leather goods will be outdated and gone forever.
Further resources and works cited
- Kearney, Lauren. “Could Your Purse Be Made Out of Dog Skin? The Truth Behind the Dog Leather Industry.” One Green Planet, 12 Apr. 2015, onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-truth-behind-the-dog-leather-industry/.
- Weissman, Alanna. “Is Your Leather from China? It Might Be Made of Dog or Cat Skin.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 July 2016, theguardian.com/business/2016/jul/31/dog-cat-leather-china-us-congress-trade-peta.
- “Dogs Bludgeoned and Killed in Leather Industry.” PETA Investigations, PETA, https://investigations.peta.org/china-dog-leather/.