Vegan-friendly alternatives: what is apple leather?

Brand new to New Zealand, apple leather fabric is a vegan-friendly alternative to leather. Find out about this innovation and how it is used by vegan handbag & accessories brand Velvet Heartbeat

You’ve probably heard of pineapple and cactus leather by now, but what about the new plant-based material apple leather? 

Made in Italy, apple leather, or ‘Apple Peel Skin-PAQ Vegan Leather’, is a vegan-friendly alternative to animal leather. Organic apple waste (peel and cores, known as pomace) is puréed and dehydrated to remove most of the moisture, then mixed with polyurethane to form the leather-like material. 

While apple leather does contain polyurethane, 66% of the material is derived from natural materials, making it a kinder environmental alternative for vegans and animal-lovers who would otherwise choose 100% polyurethane-based materials over traditional animal leather. And importantly, the apple leather is durable and soft, making it suitable for handbags and other accessories. 

Vegan handbag specialist Suzie Eggleton of Velvet Heartbeat uses apple leather in conjunction with handbags and wallets, including for her Julia wallet range in gingerbread tan, peachy cream and black colourways. Eggleton says “Apple leather is lovely to work with, everyone remarks how smooth it is and I’ve found it performs just as perfectly on our most popular styles as our other plant-based leather alternatives, so we’re looking forward to releasing some new styles in apple soon!”.

The Julia Wallet Range by Velvet Heartbeat

Combining the apple leather with 100% cotton deadstock lining, Eggleton is always looking for ways to ensure her entire range is as sustainable as possible. The majority of materials used in her creations are plant-based, deadstock (surplus industry materials), or vintage, with new materials utilised as a last resort, predominantly for necessities such as durable zips and labels. 

Speaking of her journey as a vegan handbag retailer, Eggleton says “”when I started Velvet Heartbeat I was working with standard vegan leather fabrics I had managed to source as deadstock, but found that both myself and my customers were looking for more environmentally friendly options. Luckily there are some incredible textile manufacturers taking renewable resources or industry by-products like the apple pulp and transforming them into usable textiles so we can start ticking more boxes for our customers. We’re really glad to be able to bring apple leather, cactus leather and Piñatex to our part of the world and we’ve had incredible feedback from people who just can’t believe the quality, feel and texture can be made from plants!.

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