How to Avoid Materials Made From Animals

Want to ditch fur, leather, suede, wool, cashmere, and feathers (down)? It’s never been easier!


How to know if it’s real or faux

While there are plenty of faux fur options out there, occasionally real fur is being sold as faux. There are currently no regulations regarding the labelling of fur, and studies have found that real fur is being sold as faux because in some cases it is cheaper than making actual faux fur.

Don’t worry though, here are some tips to know if the fur is real or fake!

1. Don’t rely on the price.

Just because something is cheap or expensive, doesn’t mean it is fake or real. Cheap real fur comes from factory farms where animals are living in appalling conditions. It could also mean it is fur from dogs and cats.

2. Look at the base of the hair.

Part the hair and have a look at how it is attached. Real fur tends to be attached to the processed skin, whereas fake fur generally has a fabric backing. You could also use a pin to push through the base. If it goes through easily it is fake, if it requires a little effort it may mean it is leather.

3. Check the hair tips

Real fur tapers off at the end, whereas faux fur tends to be blunt. This isn’t always 100% accurate, as the real fur could be deliberately cut shorter (taking off the taper).

4. If in doubt, don’t buy it.

If you still cannot tell 100% if something is real or fake, please avoid purchasing it


One of our favourite brands is Unreal Fur. This epic brand is not only animal friendly, but they also make sure their material is made from sustainable fibres and are constantly developing their products to reduce their environmental footprint. Currently, their products are made from recycled fabrics, however, they are also looking at transitioning to hemp and PET fibres.

fox fur

Leather and Suede Alternatives

How to know if it’s real or faux

1. Check the label.

Most leather products have a “genuine leather” label on them as they feel this adds value to the product, alternative products often say “man-made PU”. We recommend doing the other steps too, just to make sure.

2. Smell it – yep, you read that right.

Leather has a distinct smell – if you’re unsure what this is, smell an item that you know is genuine and then compare it to a synthetic product! Not going to lie, we are pretty happy that synthetic leathers do not have this smell.

3. Test the texture and look at the pores.

Faux leather tends to have perfect pores or textures and are typically smooth or with a plastic-like feel. Real leather, on the other hand, is more unique in the texture and pores, as it is the skin of an animal. Real leather is also more stretchy than faux leather.

4. Look at the edges.

Leather tends to have a rough, natural-looking edge where the skin has been cut. Faux leather looks smooth and perfect.


Polyurethane (PU) leather is currently the most common leather alternative, however, it is often slammed for not being environmentally friendly. This argument is invalid when you compare it to the devastating environmental impacts of farming cows and processing their skin into leather. For more information on this, please see “Why shouldn’t I eat beef?” and “What are the true costs of materials?”.

In saying this, finding a more environmentally friendly solution is always a better option – and entrepreneurs from all over the globe are doing just this. Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez have created Desserto, made from cacti, Dr Carmen Hijosa created Pinatex, from pineapple leaves, and other inspiring innovators are using apples, cork, mushrooms, soybeans, recycled paper, and of course, recycled plastic. Excitingly, we can expect to see more ethical brands using these materials to replace animal-skin products in the near future.

crocodile leather

Wool and Cashmere 

How to know if it’s real or faux

Wool is a little bit trickier as acrylic and cotton materials can make wonderful replicates.

1. Check the label.

Most brands and companies want to advertise if their products are real wool and cashmere, so always check the label. If it is faux, it will typically say acrylic or cotton.

2. Feel the item.

Touch items that you know are cashmere, wool, or angora, and then compare them to faux items. It can be a little hard to distinguish the two, so if you are ever unsure, the safest thing to do is to not purchase the item.

3. Felting test.

If you are looking for yarn, take two pieces of the same yarn and wet the ends a little. Then fray them, push one end into the other and rub. If it stays together, it is real, if it doesn’t, it is fake.


Wool alternatives have been around for years, as people can be allergic to the fibres. As a result, companies use cotton, cotton flannel, polyester fleece, synthetic shearling, Tencel, or Polartec Wind Pro, made from recycled water bottles! Tencel is one of the newer, more environmentally friendly options on the market made from raw material wood!

sheep wool


Unfortunately, faux feathers for costumes or decorations are yet to hit the shelves, but there are some wonderful alternatives for other feather/down products (listed below).

ostrich feathers

Some of our favourite brands and options


A range of brands are now using recycled bottles instead of down to insulate their jackets!

  1. Patagonia’s insulated parker
  2. Matt & Nat’s outerwear collection
  3. Glassons faux leather biker jacket
  4. James & Co vegan outerwear
  5. Unreal Fur faux fur outerwear
  6. Wuxly Movement
  7. Superdry parka jacket
  8. Pangaia – FLWRDWN puffer jackets
  9. ASOS hooded parka with faux fur
  10. James & Co vegan outerwear
  11. Wuxly Movement
faux fur
Unreal Fur


  1. UGG boot alternatives
  2. Humankind shoes
  3. Avesu shoes
  4. Doc Martens
  5. Vegan Style
vegan leather shoes
Bourgeois Boheme

Wallets, Bags, and Belts

  1. Matt and Nat
  2. Kinds of Grace
  3. Thamon
faux leather

Cleaning products

Instead of feather dusters, use microfibre ones instead!

animal-free materials
Microfibre duster.


When looking for new bedding, seek out bamboo, organic linen, microfibre, corn fibre, or microgel products, and avoid down, wool, and silk. With these top picks, you can rest easy knowing no animals were directly harmed in the making of your cosy bed:

  1. Pure Zone’s Alternative Down Quilt
  2. Pure Zone’s Bamboo Quilt
  3. Bambi’s 100% biodegradable Ecorenew Ingeo Quilt
  4. Eco Down Under’s Corn Fibre Pillow


I Wool Knit have a great range of vegan yarns.