Portugal bans ‘vegan leather’ term over greater consumer clarity claims | Totally Vegan Buzz
Portugal bans ‘vegan leather’ term over greater consumer clarity claims
Image: @modherhandbags / Instagram

“The simple truth is that this is nothing to do with consumer transparency and protection, and instead just one more desperate attempt by old, flailing industries to continue their cruel and climactically disastrous practices, in the face of growing consumer enlightenment and change.”

Portugal has banned the use of the term ‘vegan leather’ and other plant-based prefixes claiming that such terms are technically incorrect and misleading to consumers.

A new Leather Decree – which defines what leather is and how it can be used in commercial enterprises – called “couro” in Portugal has been released.

According to it alt leather companies using prefixes such as ‘vegan’, ‘plant-based’, or ‘pineapple’ or even “synthetic” along with the word “leather” in their product marketing may face fines and criminal proceedings.

‘Desperate attempt’

While the Portuguese government cites greater consumer clarity as the primary motivator, insiders believe the move is an attempt to protect the traditional leather industry from the undeniable growth of sustainable leather alternatives.

Portugal’s new ban follows similar wranglings by the meat and dairy industries in Australia, Europe and the US, which want plant-based makers to stop using traditional animal food terminologies for vegan products.

“We have all heard the terms ‘vegan sausage’, ‘vegan chocolate’ and ‘vegan leather’. These terms are not aiming to mislead consumers but to show that there are no animal ingredients in the product, and these terms are very much accepted,” Alicia Lai  founder of ethical shoe brand B_Boheme told Vegconomist.

Annick Ireland, founder of ImmaculateVegan.com – a leading vegan fashion and lifestyle platform – told the vegan business magazine: “I don’t think a single person seeing the words ‘vegan leather’ thinks the material is made from animal skin, so I simply don’t believe this is about protecting the consumer from misinformation.

“The simple truth is that this is nothing to do with consumer transparency and protection, and instead just one more desperate attempt by old, flailing industries to continue their cruel and climactically disastrous practices, in the face of growing consumer enlightenment and change.”

Alt-leather market trajectory

The vegan leather market is booming. A slew of increasingly innovative materials is being used to create alt-leathers including mushrooms, cork, apple, pineapple, and old coffee grains.

Vegan leather is already a hit with luxury labels like Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld, and Hermès.

Last November, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein teamed up with vegan mushroom leather producer Ecovative, establishing their steps into the vegan fashion world.

Kering’s Gucci and LVMH’s Louis Vuitton have both also infused vegan leather in their designs.  

Meanwhile, Italian luxury fashion house Prada has long promoted a recycled nylon material – Econyl- that it uses in place of leather. 

According to a report released by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the  global bio-based leather market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 47.5% over the next five years. The vegan leather market is predicted to reach almost $90 billion by 2025.

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