Renewable leather innovation proliferates as consumer opinion turns

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In London, popular design publication Dezeen has done a deep dive on renewable leather alternatives as fashion and design markets look to move away from both animal-based leather and non-biodegradable petrochemical products.

“Leather and fur have long epitomized luxury in the worlds of fashion, accessories and furniture,” writes Dezeen’s Jennifer Hahn. “But recently, popular opinion has started to shift with growing awareness about the cruelty of mass livestock rearing and the number of resources consumed and carbon emitted in the process.”

Hahn listed Piñatex, a leather alternative produced by Ananas Anam from pineapple waste in the Philippines since 2013. “While many plant-based leather alternatives are still in the prototype phase, Piñatex has already been fashioned into commercially available products by the likes of Hugo Boss and US brand Native Shoes,” she adds.

In the Netherlands, designer Tjeerd Veenhoven is using the leaves of the areca palm to create a leather-like material that has been used in bags, shoe soles and rugs, while Bolt Threads in the US is using mycelium filament and other fungi and recently won backing from Stella McCartney, Adidas, and Gucci.

Non-vegan but renewable solutions include an alternative leather made by Vietnamese designer Uyen Tran from seafood shells and coffee grounds and a somewhat macabre material made by Israeli designer Shahar Livne from slaughterhouse wastes such as animal fat, bones, and blood.