Does vegan leather stretch?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, ‘Does vegan leather stretch?’ and will discuss how vegan leather is made?

Does vegan leather stretch?

Yes, vegan leather does stretch. However, the stretch of faux leather (Vegan leather) is less than that of genuine leather. Stretching vegan leather requires caution since it increases the likelihood of breaking. It is preferable to avoid stretching it at all costs.

How is vegan leather different from regular leather?

Generally natural leather is a collagen based animal hide, and has been obtained after various chemical based processing of the skins of cattle, pig, goat, dog, horse, aviator etc. It is composed of keratin, other amino acids like alanine, glycine, arginine, proline etc., and these amino acids are joined by peptide linkages among themselves. On the other hand, most of the artificial leathers are composed of one natural or synthetic fiber based base fabric, coated with polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other elastomeric synthetic polymer having long chain linear molecule arrangement. Apart from popular PVC and PU, some other chemicals like butyl rubber (isobutene isoprene copolymers), hypalon (chlorosulfonated polyethylene), neoprene (polychloroprene), nitrile rubber (acrylonitrile butadiene copolymer), styrene butadiene rubber, poly tetrafluoroethylene also have been used for coating purposes (1). 

Vegan leather mimics typical leather in appearance and feel while being environmentally friendly, sustainable, and devoid of cruelty. Stitching, hardware, and adhesive are all made without the usage of animal products. Faux leather, vegan leather, PU leather, and even “pleather” are all terms used to describe vegan leather.

In 2014 around 24 billion pairs of shoes were produced and 41% of all leather from tanneries in Europe is used in footwear. A total of 68% of leather is used in the fashion industry as a whole. Most leather produced worldwide comes from raw bovine hides and cattle accounted for 65% of all livestock emissions, resulting in a greenhouse gas emission profile of approximately 9.5% worldwide. Further, the production of leather from raw hides is very polluting, mainly due to the use of toxic chemicals in the tanning procedure (5).

How vegan leather is made?

The majority of vegan leather is created from plastic-based polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU). Innovative and sustainable materials may be employed to develop items that are superior to those made of animal skin. Very recently, one innovative research idea has been reported on the preparation of fully biodegradable artificial leather by a multi-layering approach of natural fibers. Examples include pineapple leaves, cork, and other fruit debris as well as recycled plastics like apple peels and recycled plastic bottles (1).

PVC is the most commonly used polymer in the manufacture of faux leather because of its high durability and low cost. PVC is water-durable, crack resistant at room temperature, and resilient to wear and tear due to its chemical properties. PU feels more like genuine leather and is lighter than PVC, but PU leather is about twice as expensive as PVC leather, making it cost-prohibitive for many producers of low-margin consumer goods (2).

Vegan leather is available in a variety of shapes and grades, so some varieties are more ‘leather-like’ than others in appearance. When it comes to excellent quality vegan leather, the differences between the two are minimal. The cost of faux leather, on the other hand, is often far lower than that of genuine leather goods. This is because making pleather is less expensive than making genuine leather.

How to Stretch faux leather?

Faux leather can be stretched, but the results will not be as good as with real leather. Faux leather, on the other hand, may be stretched without harming the material or causing cracks.

Check out this method for stretching the cloth. I’ll demonstrate how to make imitation leather shoes, but the technique works on any piece of apparel.

·         Use a Relaxing Product on Faux Leather

To begin stretching the imitation leather, first relax the material so that it is ready for operation.

Applying a fabric conditioner to the leather is an excellent technique to prepare the cloth for use. After that, apply a little quantity of your selected product and work it into small circles throughout the leather, being sure to cover all of it. Allow to air dry after completion.

The leather making process brings about the transformation of hides and skin into leather via several chemical and mechanical steps and natural oil, which is a vital component that brings about strength, flexibility, and softness in the skins/hides of animals is usually lost during the pre tanning operations. If leather processing is completed without reintroducing oil after tanning, the leather product becomes rigid, difficult for use in the manufacture of leather products. The improvement of the physical properties of natural leather such as tensile strength, flexibility, and softness by lubricating the leather fibers may be achieved by applying oils, such as whale oils, synthetic oils and natural vegetable oils (sesame oil) (3). However, there is no scientific embodiment of the effect of these oils into synthetic leathers. Faux leather are incorporated with plasticizing agents during their production, however, these plasticizers are not physically bound to the leather matrix. 

·         Apply a Stretching Agent to the Leather

If you can’t use this product, don’t spray it. Before spraying, read the label and directions. Follow the directions on the product’s container for best results.

When you’re done spraying, you may stretch your imitation leather as you’d like.

·         Stretching by hand

·         Using a tool

·         Wearing the item

Stretch the leather using a tool till it’s the desired size

Stretching leather may be accomplished using certain tools. Faux leather may also be stretched using the tools.

·         Boot trees

With a boot tree that is half a size larger, the leather will be stretched out more comfortably. After a few wears, the leather will take on the new shape and make your shoes more comfortable for you.  If you’re going to leave the shoe on the boot tree, make sure the laces are tied very firmly to prevent the leather from stretching.

·         Watch stands

You may stretch faux leather watch straps and bracelets by wrapping them around a heavy item and keeping them there for a couple of hours or overnight. Watch stands can be very handy in this case since they elevate the watches off the table.

Is vegan leather better than raw leather?

When comparing vegan versus genuine leather, don’t forget about factors like quality and durability. Vegan leather is frequently considerably thinner and lighter than genuine leather, which is fantastic for fashion since it makes it simpler to work with. However, it is also less durable than real leather. When properly maintained, genuine leather shoes may endure for decades, but excellent quality imitation leather shoes may only last you around a year. This is a critical consideration when weighing the environmental effect of purchasing several faux leather products against purchasing a single genuine leather item.

Synthetic leathers also age horribly, whereas genuine leather develops a beautiful patina with use and is said to give it character.

The PVC-based faux leather used in faux leather goods is also not breathable, while genuine leather contains pores that allow the skin to breathe. Wearing jackets made of vegan leather for lengthy periods might make them unpleasant.

The two main differences between the natural material and faux material are: faux leather is nonporous, so the fabric does not allow the air to pass though; fabric backing is required to support the embossed plastic face. Usual fiber content – face: usually polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl-chloride (PVC) film; polyester film, which is recyclable may be available; backing depending on the purpose of use: non-woven fabric, 100% polyester interlock knit or polyester/cotton blend square plain weave. Weaknesses: not breathable; dry-cleaning chemical may damage or destroy plastic film; cannot be re-sewn; needle holes cannot be repaired; plastic surface may cause “noise” or adhere together easily; extremely heat-sensitive (2).

Faux leather items are far less expensive than genuine leather ones, which makes them more environmentally friendly as well. This is because making synthetic plastic leather is less expensive than making genuine leather. It takes special skills to make leather goods, and custom leather items like couches, coats, and bags may cost thousands of dollars. Due to its exceptional quality and durability, manufacturers may charge these amounts.

Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.

Is a vegan diet low fat?

How is vegan ice cream made?

How is vegan leather made?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, ‘Does vegan leather stretch?’ and discussed how vegan leather is made?


  1. Basak, S., et al. Development of natural fibre based flexural composite: A sustainable mimic of natural leather. Mater Today Comm, 2022, 103976.
  2. Narica, Pāvels, et al. Analysis of Laser Processing of Artificial Leather. ENVIRON. TECHNOL. RES. Proceed Int Scien Prac Confer, 2019, 3.
  3. Nkwor, Adachukwu N., Pius O. Ukoha, and Ikhazuagbe H. Ifijen. Synthesis of sulfonated Sesamum indicum L. seed oil and its application as a fatliquor in leather processing. J Leather Sci Eng, 2021, 3, 1-13.
  4. Satish Kumar, Yogesh Kumar. Economic Sustainability Analysis of Natural Leather Industry, And Its Alternative Advancements. 2021. Michigan Technological University.
  5. Spinnewijn, Otger. Innovative Leather Alternatives: A Short-Lived Trend or the Future of Fashion?. 2022. Universiteit Utrecht. 

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