Alternatives to leather


I’m curious if people have any experience with alternatives to leather. Looking for material with similar qualities ( rigidity and pliability, able to withstand a bit of force for different sides, relatively easy to work with with standard tools) I’m working on a bag project and am curious to what else is out there. Leather has such a heritage looks and I’m looking for a bit more of a technical look. I like the decking material for snowshoes. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


Pu (various substrates from microfibre to non-woven), vinyl, meshes (nylon, polyester, blends) come to mind…just look at any other soft goods from bags to shoes or other technical things like tents or apparel.


Thanks R but i have found that most of these materials are too thin and not rigid enough for what I’m looking for. Will keep an eye out and post what i come across.


What about a dense neoprene? Or the stuff they make these types of windblocking jackets of, I don’t know if there is a generic name for it but it is some sort of polyester…

Is something woven like coated canvas/duck or ballistic Cordura off-base? These Goruck bags come to mind when you say you are looking for a more technical look…

@norasaurus, Thanks for the tip!

All the materials I mentioned come in various thickness with different substrates and can also be laminated to different linings, reinforcements, etc. Unless you are looking for something magic, it will likely be in one of the categories I suggested.

PU microfibers are the most commonly used replacement for leathers. Some of them you could probably not even tell was not leather if you didn’t see the back (some even have the backside very leather like). Very close on all properties.

Two examples-

PU/Vinyl - Synthetic materials
Fabric/Mesh - woven or knit

I can’t think of anything else…


I didnt realize you could go much thicker on the PU, will definitely have to explore this more. I think your right this really is the only comparable substitute. Thanks for the links!

Typical thickness is 1.2mm. Leather depending use is same. 1.4-1.6mm thickest I’ve seen.


EVA comes to mind, if it needs to get thicker and more rigid. I believe that’s what Crocs are made of.

Check out this new material: translucent ‘Apparition’ leather.
Talk about bringing a technical look to a craftsy material.

Developed by Sruli Recht with ECCO, little did I know I live about 2 miles from their substantial lab.