Is it vegan to buy second-hand leather?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is it vegan to buy second-hand leather?” and will discuss the reasons why some vegans wear second-hand leather.

Is it vegan to buy second-hand leather?

Maybe, it is vegan to buy second-hand leather. According to the Vegan Society, veganism is a way of life that aims to avoid all types of animal exploitation and suffering, whether it be for food, clothes, cosmetics, or entertainment. According to this concept, veganism is incompatible with the use of second-hand leather.

Most leather is manufactured via factory breeding; the animals are treated in small, dirty cages and later cruelly slaughtered. In particular, alligators, whose skin is used for handbag manufacturing, are bred in a single tank, locked, and slaughtered at the age of three by being shot or flogged. As such, three to four alligators are killed to make a single handbag. Besides, such animal products involve environmental issues, in that the creation of fur coats via factory breeding requires twice the amount of energy needed for that of artificial fur coats; strong chemical processes are conducted to prevent the fur and leather from rotting in closets (1).

But although most vegans agree with this definition, some are quite happy to wear apparel made from animals as long as it doesn’t lead to increased demand for animal cruelty.

Some Vegans Wear Second-Hand Leather For These 3 Reasons

Post-consumer textile waste consists of textiles that the owner no longer needs. They are mostly disposed of into the trash and end up in municipal landfills. Over one million tonnes of textiles are discarded annually from domestic sources, of which 25% are recycled (2).

In the case of second-hand leather, you’ll be purchasing an item that has already been worn by someone else. There are a wide variety of items made from recycled leather, including boots, coats, handbags, and belts.

It used to be considered a sign of financial hardship to use second-hand goods, but these days it’s a popular choice (even among vegans) for the following reasons:

Helps to reduce the ecological footprint

However, since we live in a largely consumer-based culture, garments that are no longer utilized (not because of their poor condition) end up in garbage rather than being given or resold.

Unfortunately, many toss out clothes and footwear after a year or two because they’ve outgrown them or they no longer fit, and this wastes important landfill space that might be used to dispose of non-reusable materials that last as long as leather.

Certain studies show that awareness of eco-friendly and social responsibility is included in the consumers’ awareness of vegan fashion (1).

To add to the environmental impact of clothes and footwear, many of these goods are made and colored using potentially dangerous chemicals that may wind up contaminating our air and drinking water. You’re helping the environment by avoiding the need for “new” items, and you’re also avoiding needless waste by purchasing second-hand goods (either leather or wool).

The Clothing and Textile industry accounts for an estimated 5 to 10% of all environmental impacts throughout the EU, so improving the environmental performance of the industry is vital. The recycling of textile waste is not only an important means of solving the numerous environmental problems but also a means of socioeconomic and environmental sustainability. Buying second hand items helps to save energy because less energy is used to manufacture brand new products. It produces less greenhouse gasses because industries burn fewer fossil fuels (CO2 emissions); prevents the destruction of natural habitats; from a sustainability perspective, a reduction in the total amount of land used for textile production is an important objective in order to prevent future conflicts related to land use (2).

Has nothing to do with exploitative work in any way

There are many varied quality and pricing ranges for leather, which implies that many of the inexpensive items (including leather) may be created in destitute places where people are paid a pittance for their labor.

At this point, men and women are focused only on what jacket or boots they’ll wear next week to create an impact.

While the immediate effect of used clothing may be argued, others argue that it may assist corporations (especially those in the design and retail industries) to rethink their business model, and more crucially, it can push customers to make better purchases that prevent worker exploitation.

People can save money 

Yes, it is possible to save money by purchasing second-hand goods. In addition, you may get high-quality second-hand goods from well-known companies at a discount if you know where to look. It’s not uncommon for high-end shoppers to wear an item of clothes just once before tossing it in the trash. As a fashion fan, you’re more likely to be able to get more costly items at a lower cost than you would if you bought them new.

Some charity shops charge more than others, particularly if you’re seeking high-end labels, but if you’re not choosy about what you wear, you’ll usually find fantastic offers.  

Why Is Second-Hand Leather Illegal for Some Vegans?

The concept of veganism as out by The Vegan Society is adhered to by vegans who oppose the usage of second-hand leather. In other words, they won’t use leather since it’s not vegan.

Vegan fashion uses artificial or eco-friendly materials rather than animal materials such as leather, fur, silk, and wool. The representatives of vegan materials in vegan fashion include acrylic, bamboo, cotton, hemp, jute, linen, modal, nylon, ramie, rayon, and spandex. Banned materials such as angora, cashmere, fur, suede, nubuck, patent leather, chamois, calfskin, shearling, silk, snake leather, lizard leather, and wool come from animals. Vegan fashion does not include animal experiments during the process of production (1).

In addition, I’ve seen an argument that anybody who wears leather may promote the concept that wearing leather is OK, which may influence or persuade others that doing so is okay. While you may have purchased your leather jacket from a secondhand shop, someone else may be inspired to do the same after seeing you in one.

Even if you wear repurposed leather, you’re still wearing the skin of an animal that has already died, and that’s incompatible with most vegans’ ethical philosophies. Even if you don’t use the second-hand leather jacket, it may be said that you’re “wasteful” by not using it and allowing it to go to waste (and end up in the trash).

It’s all up to you!

Wearing leather, wool, or fur after being vegan, on the other hand, maybe repulsive for many individuals. Those who follow a vegan diet and yet wear leather or other animal products are seen as hypocrites by many. That’s quite reasonable, and I wouldn’t expect you to keep wearing them either. If this is the case, consider giving any goods you no longer need to family, friends, or anybody else who could benefit from them rather than throwing them out.

The decision to wear leather or not is a very personal one. And no one should be made to feel terrible for it. Leather isn’t anything that bothers me, therefore I don’t have a problem wearing it. Despite this, I refuse to engage in or contribute financially to the leather business. I have no problem purchasing used leather, and I have no problem with anybody else doing the same. I also have no problem with anyone who decides they no longer want to wear it.

You may want to reconsider wearing leather even if you’re vegan, but you’re worried about the response you’ll get if you do. The concept of demand and supply cannot be overstated. Avoiding the landfill is critical. We must stop buying leather products with our hard-earned cash. However, if you still want to wear leather, you may do so by shopping at a secondhand store. Don’t allow the scumbags to get the best of you. You’re free to do as you like.

On the other hand, the use of second hand clothes is in tune with veganism. Vegan fashion emphasized the importance of recycling, production and waste disposal activities, encouraging ethical consumption and sustainable consumer participation, developing corporate financial activities based on shared values, and establishing a collaborative ecosystem with luxury designers and brands. Fashion consumers who consider the environment’s importance have reduced clothing consumption; conscious fashion companies try to reduce the use of chemical dyes (1).

Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.

Is there vegan wine?

Is it vegan to ride horses?

Is it vegan to own pets?

Can vegans eat fish?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is it vegan to buy second-hand leather?” and discussed the reasons why some vegans wear second-hand leather.


  1. Choi, Yeong-Hyeon, and Kyu-Hye Lee. Ethical consumers’ awareness of vegan materials: Focused on fake fur and fake leather. Sustainab, 2021, 13, 436.
  2. Cuc, Sunhilde, and Milorad Vidovic. Environmental sustainability through clothing recycling. Operat Supp Chain Manag Int J, 2014, 4, 108-115.