Yes, moleskin fabric is vegan. Despite the name, moleskin fabric has nothing to do with furry, subterranean mammals. It is cruelty-free and suitable for a vegan lifestyle – no moles were harmed in the manufacture of this fabric!
Moleskin fabric should not be confused with the notebook brand, Moleskine (but just in case this is what you were looking for, we’ve checked, and Moleskine products are typically vegan!).
What Is Moleskin?
Moleskin is a heavily-napped fabric typically made from cotton (or sometimes polyester). The name was chosen because the material bears a striking similarity in feel and texture to the skin and fur of the mole, but does not use animal-derived materials.
Moleskin is usually made from cotton, processed in a way to produce a ‘heavy napped’ fabric that is famed for its softness and durability. Moleskin is known as a ‘fustian’ fabric, meaning that it is a heavy, hard-wearing cotton with a short ‘nap’ (the fuzzy surface). It is generally produced in darker shades of color and has historical ties with the midlands and north of England, where many moleskin manufacturers are still based today.
Moleskin has traditionally been used for workwear. Farm laborers needed clothing that was practical, durable, warm, and comfortable, able to allow them to work in cold and windy conditions. More recently, it has found favor in fashionable clothing.
Although cotton is traditionally favored, a few newer manufacturers use polyester, but this does not produce a fabric with the same characteristic qualities.
How Is Moleskin Made?
The fabric is made by taking two layers of heavy cotton; a ‘backer’ and a ‘top layer,’ which are then woven together tightly. The top layer is then shaved away to reveal the weave between the two layers. This ‘nap’ is then brushed to make the distinctive soft texture of moleskin. The closer the material is shaved, the softer the resulting fabric will be. It is similar in feel to suede and corduroy.
Is Moleskin Sustainable?
Moleskin is sustainable and biodegradable when grown from organic cotton, which does not use pesticides and relies on rainwater for growth.
Non-organic cotton is less environmentally-friendly as it uses significant volumes of both water and pesticides. These contribute to the contamination of the environment, killing wildlife and poisoning the workers who harvest the cotton.
Verdict: Should Vegans Buy Moleskin?
Moleskin is safe to buy for vegans, but preference should be given to moleskin made from organic cotton due to its sustainability improvements over non-organic cotton.