Knowledge of Leather Alternatives: An Exploratory Study: Implications for Education
Received Date: December 21, 2020; Published Date: February 02, 2021
The purpose of this study was to discover a fashion consumer’s level of knowledge, use and attitudes about leather and its alternatives. The two categories of leather alternatives included Vegan Leather (mostly made with plastic coatings) and Eco-Friendly Leather alternative (materials that are “good” for the environment).
With a convenience sample (N=11) of fashion design students/consumers, data was collected via questionnaire with open and closed-ended questions, including questions about the participant’s knowledge and experience with purchasing leather and leather alternative products. Their knowledge of leather processing was also questioned.
The key results were that participants had various perspectives and attitudes about using leather and leather alternatives. Most had not heard of more than one of the eco-friendly leather alternatives that was listed on the questionnaire and most did not have knowledge of the leather producing process. Those who had taken textiles courses previously stated that they covered leather and/or its alternatives either very little or not at all.
The findings have implications for various stakeholders including leather alternative manufacturers, fashion programs and instructors, textbook producers, and retail establishments. A need was discovered to define specific terms to explain the differences between leather alternatives that use plastic toxins vs. leather alternatives that were better for the environment. Leather alternative terms were used interchangeably which could confuse consumers with what they were actually purchasing.
The conclusion was that leather alternative manufacturers could use these findings to see the need to better educate their consumers. Some of the education that could be included is exposure to specifics about their products in terms of construction and components used in relationship to environmental and sustainability concerns. This specific information is not widely available to consumers and more education is necessary.
Keywords: Leather; Faux leather; Leather alternatives; Eco-friendly faux leather; Vegan leather; Education