Increasing consumer awareness about the use of animal by-products and the subsequent demand from consumers to see alternatives has led traditional leather to become replaced by some innovative materials. According to a recent report featured on Business Wire, the global synthetic leather market is expected to reach 85.05 billion USD by 2025.
While typical synthetic leather is made from polyurethane, there are a few new materials being used by vegan leather startup companies.
“Wine leather” is one of the latest innovative materials that companies are producing by pressing the solid remains of grapes. Any part of the grape that is discarded in the wine making process, that is the skins, stalks, and seeds, combine to make a fully natural leather alternative. VEGEA is the name of the company that is currently working on running the patent implementation stage. The founder, Gianpiero Tessitore, hopes to be ready by the beginning of 2018. VEGEA is currently promoting some prototypes for furniture, bags, garments, and more, to show them in Milan during an event this fall!
“MuSkin” is made from mushroom caps, which are tanned with nontoxic ingredients. In contrast, the chemicals traditionally used to tan the skin of cows or other animals is toxic. The material that results from this process is similar to suede and it is completely biodegradable. It is softer, more breathable, and more water-repellent than traditional leather. It is perfect for items such as belts, bags, and shoe soles.
The company Paper No. 9 creates vegan paper leather in a variety of colours and textures. Each of their items is made to order and the textiles are nontoxic and plastic-free. The fabric is composed of recycled paper, remnants from organic sources and ethically obtained sources, in addition to natural glues, waxes, and oils. Check out this chic purse that is just screaming “sustainable luxury”!
Other Promising Projects
There are a few materials that are still being tested to make vegan leather. Researchers at Iowa State University and a German startup company, ScobyTec, have been using kombucha tea to manufacture vegan leather. The material, “teather”, is harvested from a kombucha-based mixture.
XXLab in Indonesia is also working on a new vegan leather created from the liquid runoff that comes from tofu production. The process results in a fabric that is leather-like, but is low-cost and zero-waste.
Although these fabrics are still being tested, we look forward to seeing how they will manifest themselves in the form of new garments and accessories.