Well, perhaps the world has been turned on its head. The term "vegan leather" is just as meaningless as "more haste, less speed" or "silent scream". Linguists call such phrase an"oxymoron" (oxus = sharp(witted) and moros = foolish), that is to say, when a formulation is formed with two mutually exclusive terms. At least that's the theory.
The fact is that currently, "vegan" simply sounds hip and trendy, and for some people, it is. After all, we already have vegan sausages, vegan ice cream – and now vegan leather as well. And in the furniture industry, this is simply the fogged-over term for mostly synthetic materials, that is to say imitation leather. Of course, vegan leather sounds better than imitation leather, but it gives the impression of naturalness and sustainability. This however, is definitely not true of plastic materials.
Vague and misleading terms such as "rhubarb leather", "cork leather" and "SnapPap leather" are currently making it really hard for real leather. For non-experts, these terms do not make it any easier to navigate the maze of leather definitions and decide for themselves what is right and wrong, good or bad. For example, rhubarb leather sounds much better than "chrome-tanned leather" to vegans, and the manufacturing process is also environmentally friendly. However, the material is not made out of plant fibres, as the name suggests, but out of animal hides that are tanned with plant parts (rhubarb roots). That is to say, not at all vegan.
Those who value vegan or eco-friendly products, unfortunately have no choice other than to study the labels intensely.