What Are Vegan Leather Work Gloves?

Updated: Feb. 28, 2023

Vegan work gloves contain no animal byproducts. Made from imitation leather, in some ways they're better than real leather work gloves.

In my experimental post-college days, when non-steel-belted car tires were still common, I developed my own style of leather moccasins using old tires for soles.

I lived near a tannery so there was an abundance of cowhide. But as I perfected the design, I graduated to elk, buffalo and moose hide. Vegan wasn’t a thing in those days, much less vegan leather. But there was plenty of faux or imitation leather around — essentially the same thing.

Being a vegetarian then, I was eager to make shoes without animal byproducts. As it turned out, imitation leather was not the answer; it’s too thin to provide the necessary support.

The flexibility and lack of body that disqualify imitation leather as a shoe material can be pluses with other items of apparel, including vests, hats and gloves. Imitation leather gloves in particular have probably been around as long as imitation leather itself.

What Is Vegan Leather?

“Pleather” (poly-leather), also known as imitation or faux leather, was developed by DuPont Laboratories as auto upholstery material in the early days of the industry. It’s purely synthetic material usually made from polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), two common plastics. Some faux leathers are made from natural materials like cork, kelp, apple peels and pineapple leaves.

One of the more interesting modern innovations is Reishi from MycoWorks, a leather-like product derived from mycelium, the fibrous network in mushrooms.

All of these leather substitutes qualify as vegan. In today’s eco-conscious environment, consumers increasingly demand environmentally friendly, earth-wise and animal-safe products. As a marketing term, the word “vegan” hits the mark on all three counts, even if the products themselves don’t always do the same.

The production of plastics that go into most vegan leather products is far from an environmentally friendly process, even if it is greener than real leather production. The ultimate vegan leather gloves would be made from plant-based leather, but few, if any, appear to be currently available. Until they are, consumers will have to settle for vegan leather that’s essentially plastic.

Are Vegan Leather Work Gloves as Durable as Traditional Leather Ones?

In some ways, imitation leather makes a better glove material than real leather. It’s thinner, more flexible and washable. It isn’t as durable as real leather, though. And because it’s plastic, it doesn’t breathe or stretch. Manufacturers compensate by combining artificial leather with other materials.

One such material commonly used is Spandex, the stretchy polyester fabric popular in form-fitting garments and sportswear. Another is neoprene rubber.

Because of the combination of materials, the gloves are stitched together more meticulously than single material types, and usually fit better. They typically feature built-in knuckle protection and hook-and-loop fabric fastener wristbands.

A big advantage of imitation leather over the real thing? It doesn’t harden when it dries out. You’ll need to condition a pair of real leather gloves from time to time to keep them flexible, but it’s unnecessary with imitation leather.

That’s probably one reason why the vegan leather gloves I found on Amazon eared lots of positive reviews. One reviewer writes: “Much better than craftsman gloves I’ve purchased in the past. They fit great, very comfortable and durable.”

Vegan Leather Work Gloves to Try

You can find vegan leather dress, boxing and even baseball gloves these days. Work gloves come in many popular options. Here are my two favorites.

CLC Custom Leathercraft Work Gloves with Spandex backing and vegan leather palms are lightweight and form-fitting. Durable enough for roofers, mechanics and construction workers, they resist shrinking and hardening.

The less-expensive Handylady Men’s Work Gloves (shown here) feature padded knuckles and touch-screen fingertips. They’re better suited for gardening and other light-duty activities. The fingertips are ideal for those who need their mobile device while they work.