Types of Artificial Leather

Written by jennifer burdett
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Types of Artificial Leather
Alternative leather materials save many animals' lives. (vache image by Julien Leblay from Fotolia.com)

There are several different types of artificial leather materials available today, used for clothing and furniture products and other items. Artificial leather has become increasingly popular within these same markets because of its appearance and flexibility, and also because of the positive effect on the environment. As more individuals shop for alternative leather products, fewer animals are killed each year, and less pollution is generated from the processing of those animals.


Pleather is a low-cost material that is commonly used to make artificial leather garments. Pleather is made from plastic materials and is lighter in weight compared to genuine leather products. Two common types of pleather are polyurethane and PVC; polyurethane is easier to keep clean, as PVC marks easily and hardens when dry cleaned. Pleather products can be bought in an array of colours, because the dyeing process does not damage these materials.


Naugahyde is a vinyl-coated fabric first produced in Naugatuck, Conn., in 1914. Today, Naugahyde is only manufactured by Uniroyal Engineered Products in Stoughton, Wis. The characteristics of Naugahyde are similar to a genuine leather hyde; it is used mainly for furniture coverings, as well as waterproof seat covers, clothes and toys. The company that manufactures Naugahyde created a fictional, chameleon-like species called the Naugas. It promotes its products as being 100 per cent cruelty-free, because the Naugas shed their hides naturally and do not mind them being used to make products for humans. Naugahyde artificial leather has a soft texture and genuine appearance of real leather.

Vegan Leather

Vegan leather is a popular artificial leather, but although vegan leather is considered animal-friendly, the manufacturing of some of the materials used may not be considered environmentally friendly. The different types of materials used to make vegan leathers are Birkibuc, Birko-Flor, Kydex, Lorica, PVC and Vegetan. Birkibuc is an imitation nubuck leather; Birko-flor is made out of acrylic and polyamide; Kydex is a acrylic and PVC alloy; and Lorica is manufactured using several different micro-fibres blended together. Vegan leather is used to make garments, shoes and accessories.

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