Fashion

Yes, Vegan Leather Is Stylish (Win!)

November 25, 2021

Think vegan leather ain’t as stylish as the real thing? Think again. In Montreal, jeane & jax is making vegan leather bags, jackets and more, and they’re fashionable AF. We chatted with founder Silvia Jeane Gallo, the former brand manager for iconic names like Baby Phat, Michael Kors and Puma, about her brand’s commitment to redefining the term “luxury fashion” by combining timeless style and thoughtful, waste-free practices. —Noa Nichol

Hi Silvia! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.

Born and raised in Montreal with Italian origins, I’m very much inspired by my multicultural surroundings and my European heritage. I grew up speaking three languages and although I was very sporty, and a little bit of a tomboy, I always had a drive and interest in fashion. After completing my BCOMM in marketing and international business with an additional degree in fashion design, I combined my knowledge to build a career in brand management, which was definitely crucial in my ability to start and run my own business. Having the opportunity to manage other brands in the past allowed me to work in all facets of the industry, giving me a solid foundation to build upon.

When and why did you launch jeane & jax? What niche were you wanting to fill, and what is the aim/purpose of the brand?

After many years in the industry working for reputable brands, building networks, travelling, gaining knowledge and experience, I felt that my career had reached a plateau. I felt there was no longer any personal or career growth left working for other companies. I spent my time building someone else’s brand and vision and knew it was time to have a voice of my own. There are many professions that allow you to make a difference in this world, save lives, or help people. Throughout my career in the fashion industry, which can sometimes be materialistic, it wasn’t always easy for me to measure what my contribution to society was. When I decided to start my own business, it was important for me to do something that could make a positive impact. My mission is to redefine what luxury can be by designing trendy, high-end products using ethical and sustainable materials.

What products do you currently offer, and what makes them unique?

Our primary focus and main commodity is handbags but we also offer footwear, and we recently launched outerwear through our upcycling zero-waste program. We only use the highest-quality polyurethane on the market and never use PVC. The properties of our PU fabric are very close to those of real leather in regards to durability, water resistance and aesthetics. The fabric we use also has microfiber pores making it breathable and pliable. For this reason, most of our bags are very soft and supple which differentiates us from other brands on the market which tend to offer more rigid designs. In addition to being vegan and ethical, one of our main focuses is sustainability. The majority of our collection now consists of recycled PU materials, and our linings are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles.

What is vegan leather, and how does it stack up to animal leather? What are the pros of vegan leather, and are there any cons?

This is a great question as there seems to be a misconception by some consumers that vegan leather is made entirely from plants. The term “vegan leather” was created to identify products that do not use animal leather and only use synthetic, man-made materials. Although in the past, the word vegan was predominantly used by the food and lifestyle industries, it’s now become a universal term to label a variety of products, letting consumers know that no animals were used in the making of them. There are many pros to using vegan leather with the most important being no animals are killed or harmed in the process of producing the material. In addition to saving animals, going vegan helps reduce water consumption, gas emissions produced by livestock, and the usage of toxic chemicals by tanneries. Many can also argue that vegan leather is essentially a plastic that has its own manufacturing downfalls so it’s very important to identify which brands use cheaper, more harmful materials such as PVC. Since PVC is synthetic it can technically be categorized as vegan leather but it’s much more harmful to the environment than PU. Even when talking about PU, there are many different levels of quality on the market. This is why we are committed to always and only using higher quality, certified materials at the EU level which is even higher than North American standards.

Vegan leather is diversifying; we hear that fruit peels are now being used! Can you tell us a little about the future of the material?

Technology in fabric has come a long way and it’s becoming harder for consumers to tell the difference between real and vegan leather. It truly is an exciting time in fabric innovation and I enjoy researching and learning more about the newest materials available to us. There are many fabrics now being created with the purpose of increasing sustainability, using less plastic, and more natural materials such as Pineapple and Mushroom. I met the apple vegan leather rep at a sustainability conference in LA several years ago where I was first introduced to their fabric that uses leftover apple pulp and binds it with PU. We tested the material but the supply and colours available were limited with minimums and prices being very high, so our buyers found it to be expensive at the time. We are still in communication with the supplier to overcome these obstacles and are also looking into using Cactus based material in our next collection. We hope that with more information available to consumers today, they will recognize the value in these sustainable materials and be willing to pay a little extra for them 🙂

Congrats on the launch of the limited-edition Blake jacket! What makes this piece special?

Thanks! I’m very excited about this jacket as it’s an example of how we can take material that can’t be used anymore to fill its original purpose and transform it into something new and fashionable. The material was generously donated by Ultrafabrics, an animal-free performance fabric manufacturer with a donation program inspired by the Japanese concept of Mottainai: finding the intrinsic value in unwanted materials. It was originally created to line the interior of aviation spaces so I was inspired to create a bomber jacket with the leftover rolls of fabric we received. The jacket features princess seams, slit side pockets, decorative front pintuck pleats, and elasticated sleeve cuffs. It also has Bemberg lining: a highly absorbent, breathable, and anti-static liner that is smooth and silky to the touch.

jeaneandjax.com

Win! A $200 jeane & jax BROOKE Woven Weekender Bag!

One lucky Canadian winner will receive a $200 jeane & jax BROOKE Woven Weekender Bag! To enter follow @jeaneandjax and @vitadaily.ca on Instagram and follow the entry rules on our corresponding post. Contest opens November 26, 2021, and closes December 3, 2021. Rules and regulations herePlease note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) on Instagram directly from @vitadaily.ca. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.

share:

  1. Amber olak

    November 26th, 2021 at 9:12 am

    Going to the spa

    @amber_olak

  2. Florence Cochrane

    November 26th, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Hanging out with friends. Enjoying a few games. @fossie55

  3. Kathy

    November 26th, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    Sleeping in and visiting cozy spots in BC!

  4. Rose

    November 26th, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Going to farmers markets

    @roseaz

  5. LesleyM

    November 26th, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    My Fav weekend activity is going out for a Latte and freshly baked croissant, in supporting my local business community. @lesdranged

  6. Nick

    November 26th, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    After a busy week I like to relax
    @amira_and_amir

  7. Jessica

    November 26th, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    Reading and napping 😴

  8. An Hunter

    November 26th, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Shopping for local fresh food at the farmer’s market 😋.
    @buppybishop

  9. Rosalie Reeves

    November 26th, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    Such a beautiful piece of workmanship!

  10. Marilyn

    November 26th, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    I like to binge watch TV shows
    @marilyn.kaluza

  11. Mary Carter

    November 26th, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    Visiting family out of town for a long weekend.

  12. Rachel C.

    November 27th, 2021 at 5:17 am

    I love a good weekend hike in nature to break up the monotony of the downtown work week!

    @seafoodmwg on ig

  13. Nick Lawson

    November 27th, 2021 at 5:54 am

    Relaxing and snowmobiling! @nicklawson67

  14. Ava Gavloski

    November 27th, 2021 at 6:48 am

    Weekend fav enjoying residence, regrouping, impressive for Monday travel.

  15. Tabby72

    November 27th, 2021 at 7:19 am

    I love to go hiking! @tabby_1972

  16. Catrina Lyttle

    November 27th, 2021 at 9:25 am

    Curling up with a good book.
    @aliceltranty on IG

  17. Raquel

    November 27th, 2021 at 9:41 am

    My favorite weekend activity is
    hanging out with family/friends and
    ordering food in 💗
    @raqueldxo on IG

  18. Terry Schipper

    November 27th, 2021 at 10:11 am

    Making French toast for the kids @terry.Schipper from Maple on 🇨🇦

  19. Melanie centis

    November 27th, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Getting the house all organized and cleaned up.

  20. Rachel

    November 27th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Nature walks with my hubby and friends!

    @contestgirocks

  21. coney

    November 27th, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    spending time with my family., either we just at the house or we go out as long we are all together ❤️

  22. Lillian Brown

    November 27th, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    My favourite weekend activity is reading ig lillianmb23

  23. Tracy

    November 27th, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    I’m lucky enough to spend every weekend with my two Grandsons. We love to walk to the near by shops and do a bit of shopping or stop for a coffee/ beverage. One of our favourite weekend activities is taking adventures to see Niagara Falls or the surrounding parks. Teaching them about their home town is so much fun.

  24. M.S. Thompson

    November 27th, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    Shopping local, visiting family & friends @sthompson788

  25. Taz

    November 27th, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    Right now is reading 🤣 getting lost in a book. @shag_ragdoll

  26. Amy liu

    November 28th, 2021 at 4:12 am

    Spending quality time with family, thanks for the chance, I followed Instagram as @mllil604

  27. Julie A

    November 28th, 2021 at 7:10 am

    Going for a little hike with friends
    IG @twinkypiggy

  28. Jan

    November 28th, 2021 at 10:28 am

    A sunny bike ride @jan_leeu

  29. Kam

    November 28th, 2021 at 10:49 am

    Going for a hike!

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