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Here’s why ‘Mock Croc’ leather is having a moment!

From Mango to Saint Laurent, brands are pivoting to croc-embossed leather in lieu of exotic skins.

Mock croc, croc-effect, croc print, faux croc, whatever you want to call it, it’s having a moment. At high street labels like Topshop and Mango all the way up to luxury houses like Victoria Beckham and Prada, calf leather embossed and textured to look like crocodile skin is changing the accessories game.

While brands have been using croc-effect leather for a while now (whether because it straddles both affordability and luxury, or for ethical or sustainability reasons), the fact that we’re suddenly seeing it just about everywhere is due to rising awareness and accountability both within the fashion industry and without. Last December, Chanel announced it would be banning the use of exotic skins in its leather goods, a move that was echoed a couple of months later at Victoria Beckham.

“As a business, we have been looking to action the use of more ethically sourced products that have less environmental impact for some time,” a Victoria Beckham brand spokesperson told WWD. “We are happy to confirm that we will cease using exotic skins in all future collections as of our main autumn/winter 2019 ready-to-wear presentation. This decision reflects the wishes of not only the brand, but also that of our customers.”

Earlier this spring, iconic British department store Selfridges released a statement saying it would be phasing out exotic skins from its expansive inventory, aiming to “stop selling products containing alligator, crocodile, lizard, and python skins by February 2020,” as reported by Forbes.

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California-based indie shoe brand Freda Salvador, which retails in Canada at Holt Renfrew, has been offering croc-effect loafers, boots and slides since its founding in 2013, eschewing the real thing altogether.

“We never got into using actual exotic crocodile skin for several reasons,” says the brand’s co-founder Megan Papay. “The main reason is the embossed croc alternatives look so real it’s hard to tell the difference, so why would we ethically choose to do that? We made a point to use tanneries in Italy that are incredible at making calf skin look exactly like snake, lizard or crocodile, from the colour to the raised scales.”

Of late, mock croc has been given prominent placement on sites like Farfetch and Net-a-Porter, whose offerings range from Stella McCartney shoulder bags to Chloé boots to Staud totes, and has also been dominating the street style scene. Hudson’s Bay, which carries croc-effect pieces by brands like By Far and Rejina Pyo, has also clearly taken notice of the trend.

“Animal prints have been exploding all over the runways and at Hudson’s Bay for the past few seasons,” says Tyler Franch, the retailer’s fashion director. “I love that the newest form of the trend comes to us in mock croc! It’s the easiest way to inject some affordable luxury into your look.”

Click through the gallery for a roundup of the best croc-effect accessories on the market: