Fiona is the editor of Plantpuree, a website that celebrates vegan living. With over 20 years in diet & fitness, fashion, and beauty, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to her work and writing on veganism.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
The general consensus is that vegan leathers are less resilient than animal leather, and a leather bag will last longer than a synthetic one.1 For ethical vegans with animal cruelty and environmental concerns a vegan leather handbag is a great alternative to traditional leather products. But how long does a vegan leather handbag last? And is the answer different if the bag is well-made and well-cared for? Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
How Long Does a Vegan Leather Bag Last?
How long a vegan leather bag lasts depends on 5 factors:
- Type of vegan leather used
- How the bag is made
- How the bag is maintained
- How often the bag is used
- What the bag is used for
Types of Vegan Leather Used In Handbags
Vegan leather is made from a variety of materials, including plastic, cork, and even pineapple leaves. As you can imagine, the durability of these materials varies greatly.
These vegan leather materials can be grouped into 3 basic categories depending on their origin:
- Fossil-Based Synthetics – PU/PVC
- Plant-Based Leathers – Desserto Cactus Leather, Cork, Pinatex Pineapple Leather
- Laboratory Grown Bio-leather – Muskin Mycelium Leather, Kombucha Leather
A 2021 study on vegan leathers demonstrated how differently types of leather behave under stress. For example, plant-based leathers like Desserto and Pinatex showed greater resistance to tearing and peeling than PU Leather. However, PU leather performed better than any other vegan leather when it came to resistance to bending.
The results of the study explain why some types of vegan leathers last longer in handbags than others. 2
How the Vegan Leather Bag is Made
The way a vegan bag is constructed, sewn, and finished has a significant impact on how long it lasts. After all, picking a gorgeous, long-lasting vegan leather is useless if the bag’s threads are shoddy.
Threads and Stitching
Take a close look at the stitching on a handbag. There will be more stitches per inch and smaller stitches on a sophisticated, high-quality handbag. The space between each stitch as well as the stitch pattern should be consistent from one stitch to the next.
Just like the stitching technique, the thread utilized for this stitching is crucial. Different layers of leather cannot be held together with all types of stitches. Additionally, the leather bag will begin to break away from the seam if the thread is not strong enough.
In short, look for uneven stitching, unraveling stitches, and crooked stitching, all of which are signs of poor craftsmanship, to discover issues with the work.
A lining in a high-quality handbag is important for two reasons: it protects the bag’s contents and it increases the bag’s lifespan.
The lining protects the exterior of the bag from wear and tear. The more layers of material that are between the exterior and interior of the bag, the less likely it is that either will be damaged.
A good lining is also thick and sturdy enough to provide some protection against sharp objects inside the bag. It will also help to keep the shape of the bag intact even when it is not full.
A high-quality handbag usually has a lining that is made from a matching or complementary fabric to that of the exterior. This helps to create a cohesive look for the bag. It is also a sign that the brand cares about its products and takes pride in its craftsmanship.
Finish and Edges
Look at the points where the leather joins another piece of leather. Are the edges neatly and firmly folded, or are they all painted and trimmed? An edge that has been folded and sewn correctly will last. A painted and cut edge will tear and crack. This is especially true in heavily used areas like the straps, bag’s exterior edges, and base.
Although this could be a purposeful design choice, brands often trim and paint edges to save money because it uses less leather and requires less time and work.
The hardware on a vegan handbag, such as the zipper, clasps, and rivets, are what give it its shape. They also take a lot of wear and tear. So, it is important that they are made from high-quality materials that can withstand years of use.
The best hardware is typically made from solid metal. It should be smooth and without any sharp edges. The finish should be even and consistent throughout, with no sign of flaking or discoloration.
Finally, the hardware must be firmly attached to the bag to prevent loosening or eventual falling off. High-quality zippers are always made of metal and are simple to move back and forth. A zipper that is difficult to slide will malfunction. Likewise, a vinyl zipper will detach.
How the Vegan Bag is Maintained
Just as important as how a vegan bag is made is how it is cared for. A well-treated bag can last for years, while one that is not properly cared for will quickly deteriorate.
A high-quality vegan leather handbag should last for years with proper care. Here are some tips on how to care for vegan leather bags:
– Keep the bag clean by wiping it down with a damp cloth. Do not submerge it in water.
– Avoid exposing the bag to excessive heat or sunlight.
– Do not store the bag in a damp place.
– Keep sharp objects away from the lining.
– Use a dry cloth to remove any dust or dirt from the hardware.
How the Bag is Used
The more a bag is used, the more quickly it will wear and tear. This is especially true if the bag is being used for activities that it is not meant to do. For example, using a handbag to consistently carry heavy items or continually throwing it on the floor of the train on your daily commute to work will cause it to wear out more quickly.
To extend the lifespan of your bag, use it for its intended purpose. A handbag should not be used as a carry-on suitcase for a weekend getaway or as a makeshift diaper bag. If you need a larger bag for those purposes, buy one that is designed for it.
So, how long will your vegan leather bag last? Well, that depends on a lot of factors. The type of vegan leather material is definitely one of the most important ones – some materials are more durable than others. You also need to consider the quality of the brand and how well the bag was made. And finally, you have to think about how often and what it’s used for.
If you take all of these into account, with proper care, a vegan leather handbag can last for years. But remember – nothing lasts forever! At some point, even the best-made bags will start to show wear and tear. So be prepared to eventually replace your favorite vegan leather piece.
One final tip if you are mulling over whether to purchase a designer vegan bag is to Try Before You Buy! There are a number of online retailers that now offer the option to rent designer bags for a week or two. This way, you can try out the bag and see how you like it without making a long-term commitment. And who knows – maybe you’ll end up loving it so much that you’ll want to buy it!