The championing of innovative and eco-friendly sourcing with advances in textile technology has fashioned a nuanced material with an appropriately modish name: Vegan Leather.
Fashion brands sensitive to issues concerning; animal cruelty, animal welfare rights, and the chemicals used in the tanning process of leather - which impact upon the environment and health, are offering a socially responsible and stylish alternative to leather.
Vegan leather products are far removed from association with the insipid ‘pleather’ of the 80’s and 90’s which was largely devoid of sophistication. Today, evolution in textile technology can allow the manufacture of materials which can be imprinted with grains that resemble suede and natural skins and are therefore indistinguishable in look and texture to real leather. These advances, coupled with contemporary, tasteful designs have allowed the creation a range of vegan products. Stylish and desirable, these products are growing in appeal to socially conscious millennials.
Pioneering in their materials and designs since 1995 are MATT & NAT, a vegan line from Montreal, Canada. MATT & NAT stands for MATTerial and NATure; through this clever marriage of words, the brand explores the synergy between material and nature in creating their sleek and stylish range of bags, wallets and accessories for men and women.
The brand lives by the motto, ‘Live beautifully’ reflecting an ethos that values life and nature. This simple message almost commands its audience to appreciate the world around them.
The scientific terms for vegan leather are PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinylchloride). Critics of vegan leather ask questions of the chemicals used and produced in the manufacture of these materials. PU is thought to be less harmful for the environment than PVC and MATT & NAT prioritise its use whenever possible.
Importantly, MATT & NAT have strong relationships with their factories and the owners. One of their factories has the The Social Accountability International’s (SAI) SA8000 Standard Certification which ensures quality working conditions for all in order to protect fundamental human rights of employees. They hope this will become a bigger part of their production in the future. It is clear that this brand is dedicated to upholding the integrity of their products from start to finish.
I recently purchased a wallet from the MATT & NAT Vera small collection. The aubergine purple and modern design caught my eye. The vegan leather is indistinguishable in appearance and texture from real leather; it’s quite incredible- it looks faintly creased and massaged as you would expect real leather to appear. The wallet itself feels solid and strong. The stitch around the outside is bold and defines shape of the wallet as it punches through the material.
There is no compromise on style; the features are smart and contemporary. The wallet looks timeless. On the front the stitching follows the tampered edge of the front-fold, drawing the eye to the centrally engraved, white letters of MATT & NAT.
The Zipper coin pocket at the back has a single, sleek pleat for loose change- a neat design and the tactile, extended zipper has the brand name etched into the grey metal- a well-executed feature.
Brand ambassadors of MATT & NAT have included Nathalie Portman, Fearne Cotton, Olivia Wilde, Charlize Theron, Rory Freidman, Emily Deschanel and Adrian Grenier.
This is an a beautiful brand with an equally beautiful and exciting ethos.