Style Notes – Brown Leather, & the Ethics of Leather

September 10, 2020

Top: Silk top, similar style here.
Pants: Frame leather boot-cut pants, I bought mine second hand via TheRealReal but they are still available new and in many sizes here.
Shoes: Gianvito Rossi, sold out but similar styles here, here, and here.
Purse: Susan Alexandra, available here and similar style here.

If there’s one thing that has me excited for the change of seasons from summer to fall, it’s brown leather. This edgy staple makes a comeback year in and year out, and can be worn from fall through spring. I find brown leather to be more versatile than black, and I’ve loved incorporating it back into my closet.

But let’s talk about the ethics of leather for a second. On the one hand, if you believe that animals shouldn’t be used for food or clothing, then the choice seems obvious: leather is out. Even if you’re not strictly against using animals for clothing, but are concerned about the conditions in which leather is produced, animal welfare is a reason to give pause before buying leather. On the other hand, the most popular synthetic alternative, vegan leather, is essentially plastic. Currently there is more than 8 million tonnes of plastic that enters the ocean each year, and 80% of plastic that reaches our ocean comes from what people throw away. And clothing and textiles are the number 1 source of primary microplastics in our oceans. This sobering statistic is yet another reminder of why we must ensure that materials and production methods don’t cost the earth. So in this view, the only two options pit questions of animal welfare against questions of sustainability.

But there is a third option. Vintage, second hand and upcycled leather is a more ethical and sustainable option. If a leather garment or accessory already exists, ethically speaking it is a better option than buying new. In terms of sustainability, you know that if the piece were to somehow eventually end up in a landfill, it would simply biodegrade and not contribute to our current plastic crisis.

One of my favourite places to buy vintage or second hand is The RealReal. I bought these lamb leather Frame pants that I’m wearing from The RealReal at a quarter of what their retail price would be. The condition of the pants is pristine and they feel brand new, even though they’re not. And I love pairing brown leather with jewel accents, like my jade satin shoes and beaded purse!

I’ve rounded up some of my favourite brown leather pieces currently for sale on TheRealReal below. Another way you can browse is by typing “Brown Leather” into their search bar, and use the many different filter options to narrow down your search and tailor it to your size and what you’re looking for. And I’m curious… what styles have you most excited for the change of seasons? Let me know in the comments below! x