Ethical Fashion Feature: Leather

Ethical Fashion Feature: Leather


Leather has been a staple material in fashion and design for centuries, appreciated for its durability, versatility, and timeless appeal. However, as our awareness of environmental and ethical concerns continues to grow, so does the need to reconsider our consumption of leather. Ethical Leather is a term that has gained prominence in recent years, signifying a shift towards more sustainable and responsible practices in the leather industry. Let’s delve into what ethical leather is, its importance, and how consumers can make informed choices to support this movement.  


Key Features of Ethical leather:

  • Ethical leather production focuses on sustainability, seeking to reduce the environmental footprint of the leather industry. This includes responsible sourcing of raw materials, efficient use of resources, and minimizing waste.
  • Ethical leather also promotes fair labor practices. MADE FREE’s entire mission is to prioritize fair labor practices, ensuring that all the makers involved in the production process are paid fairly, provided with safe working conditions, and treated with respect. Every item MADE FREE offers is made in a factory that meets or exceeds the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) Standards.
  • Another important feature of Ethical leather is the Tanning process. Vegetable tanning is a method of leather processing that involves the use of natural tannins found in plant matter such as oak, chestnut, and hemlock. Unlike chrome-tanning, which is more common today due to its efficiency but has environmental concerns, vegetable tanning relies on organic compounds...

More on Vegetable Tanned Leather:

 Vegetable tanning can take several weeks and requires the expertise of skilled artisans. Ethical leather is known for its exceptional durability and longevity. With proper care, it can last for generations, developing a rich patina over time. Unlike chrome tanning, vegetable tanning uses natural materials and doesn't produce harmful chemical byproducts, making it a sustainable choice. 

On top of its biodegradability and eco-friendliness, the natural tanning process imparts a warm, earthy color to the leather, which only deepens and develops more character as it ages. This aging process is highly valued by leather enthusiasts. 

Additionally, vegetable-tanned leather is also prized for its malleability, making it ideal for crafting superior bespoke items like our MADE FREE journals, leather tote bags, wallets and more

What about Vegan Leather?

Some consider vegan leather a superior alternative to genuine leather. But the term “vegan leather” is a vague one and covers a wide range of products. The truth is that vegan leather manufacturing processes often involve the use of toxic chemicals, such as phthalates, which can be harmful to both the environment and human health.  Additionally, as vegan leather breaks down it can release micro plastics into the environment. 

In addition to the detrimental environmental impacts of manufacturing vegan leather, it also lacks the durability that genuine ethical leathers have. Quicker wear and tear can result in more frequent replacements, and contributing to more waste which only increases its negative environmental impact over time.

MADE FREE’s Leather Collection

At MADE FREE we’re committed not only to being environmentally friendly, but to caring for the humans making our ethical leather products. Ethical leather represents a harmonious blend of tradition, craftsmanship, and sustainability. Its enduring qualities, coupled with its minimal impact on the environment, make it a timeless choice for artisans and consumers alike.

Choosing ethical leather is not only a responsible choice but also a step towards a more sustainable and compassionate future.  Together we can partner as conscious consumers, our choices can drive the shift towards a more ethical and eco-friendly leather industry, where style and ethics seamlessly coexist. 



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