Sustainability is big news. In addition to grabbing headlines, it’s become a huge consideration in how people shop. A recent poll found that more than a third of millennial and Gen Z shoppers want brands to create products that are eco-friendly and ethical. When it comes to natural fabrics like bamboo, cotton and wool, it’s getting easier with plenty of options for the sustainable shopper. But for the longest time, it was nearly impossible to find an alternative to leather that didn’t contain harmful chemicals. That’s changed, courtesy of AG’s latest launch, a truly sustainable vegan leather collection, dropping just in time for the holidays.
Traditionally vegan leather, while cruelty-free, wasn’t the most eco-conscious choice—a fact made obvious once you looked into its process. “[Traditional vegan leather is] usually manufactured using DMF, a solvent that emits harmful chemicals and odors [during the process], exposing the workers as well as nearby communities,” says Kristy Drutman, a youth climate activist and founder of Brown Girl Green, adding, “DMF can lead to health complications and is typically not regulated to be recycled or disposed properly after use meaning it can easily [negatively affect] the surrounding communities and environments.”
In contrast, AG’s vegan leather is a safer alternative, as it’s made from environmentally friendly organic biomass and other plant-based materials, without using DMF during the process. Instead, the brand uses a different waterborne polyurethane that doesn’t have the same toxic gas emissions or waste-water discharge. “Water-based production models that don’t rely on DMF are not only better from a public and environmental health perspective, but are also more efficient when it comes to energy usage and can result in less exhaust fumes and water consumption,” says Drutman. She also explains that by using repurposed and recycled polyester, the line can help reduce the amount of raw materials being used to create new products, which is a key point in moving towards a more sustainable future. “It’s important that brands like AG are setting the standard that hazardous chemicals do not belong on our clothes or in our bodies,” she notes.
Aesthetically speaking, the pieces in AG’s vegan leather line are just as good as the technology and innovation behind it. They feel as supple and soft as traditional leather, and have the same hand-finishing techniques, making it luxurious as well. Standouts include the Santana, a modern, and on-trend take on the eighties-inspired bomber with removable sleeves.
Another favorite is the Cleo trouser, which has a high-waist and straight leg—it’s sure to be your new go-to wardrobe staple. And for those who love a unisex, baggy vibe, the Sable shirt is the perfect shirt-meets-jacket that can be worn alone or layered.
With prices ranging from $328 to $425, AG’s vegan leather range not only improves and innovates the vegan leather process, it’s also creating quality and beautiful pieces that’ll last for years to come. Shop some of our favorites below and check out the entire collection here.
Diana Tsui is a stylist and writer living in New York City. She also writes for The New York Times, W, Elle, and more. Previously she was the senior market editor at New York Magazine’s The Cut.