The fashion industry has been notorious for its use of animal derivatives such as leather and fur. While there has been a contentious debate on the use of animal skin and fur versus that of man-made alternatives, it can be hard to pick a side due to the many intricacies that the situation presents. Recent innovations in technology along with a growing class of ethically oriented creatives, however, have led to a rise in the number of biodegradable alternatives to both animal and synthetic leathers. Last year, we covered Piñatex – a fully vegan and biodegradable alternative to leather that utilises the waste of the pineapple crop as the raw material and is used by fashion and lifestyle brands from across the world. In this article, we are taking a look at some of the newest leather innovations from across the global fashion industry that are even better than the real deal!
Nicki von Holzhausen is a former Audi designer turned accessory designer who might just have cracked the code when it comes to biodegradable luxe leather with her label von Holzhausen. Her line of ultra luxurious handbags and accessories are crafted in her proprietary Technik-Leather, which is made from recycled plastic material. To make it biodegradable, von Holzhausen uses on an organic additive that attracts a microbe that is already found in the environment, causing the chemical chains of plastic to completely break down and the product to fully decompose within five years.
Derived from the caps of the Phellinus ellipsoideus variant of mushroom, MusKin is the brainchild of the Italian research organisation Grado Zero. Once the fungus is extracted, it is treated using eco-friendly products and natural techniques to mimic the original texture and structure of animal leather. The result is a material with a suede-like finish that is almost impossible to discern from the original and is robust, water-repellant and non-toxic.
German brand nat-2 is also using it’s own variant of mushroom leather in it’s products and has even launched a line of sneakers using mushroom leather that was developed and created by Berlin based designer Nina Fabert of Zvnder.
A family business born out of a single man’s passion for the Italian dream, Uashmama retails accessories and home decor all bearing the signature ‘made in Italy’ hallmark. The twist? Every single piece is crafted from paper. To make it’s proprietary Aggo, Uashmama sources it’s raw material from trees that are cut in a responsible manner. The material is then treated and natural vegetable wax is added. The resulting material is a vegan and biodegradable paper based alternative to leather that is used for everything from handbags to tableware and yes, it is completely washable.