Six leather alternatives made from plant and food waste

Photo from Pixabay

The use of leather and fur in fashion, accessories, and furniture has gone past its prime. With more people being more conscious about the environment and living creatures, popular opinion has shifted to using resources that don’t harm animals or nature. 

In response to this change, major fashion houses have decided to refrain from using such materials. 

But when it comes to finding alternatives to what used to be fashion favorites, it’s the efforts of young, independent designers and material start-ups that put the spotlight on plants and food waste as materials to replace leather. Here are some of those innovative ideas: 

1. Piñatex by Ananas Anam

Established in 2013, this British materials company was among the first to come out with plant-based leather which uses fibers derived from pineapple leaves sourced from the Philippines. The fiber is then mixed with polylactic acid (PLA), a bioplastic derived from corn, and then turned into a non-woven mesh that is finished and coated to create a flexible yet durable material. 

2. Tômtex by Uyen Tran 

From Vientnamese designer Uyen Tran, Tômtex is made from coffee waste and biopolymer chitin found in the exoskeleton of crustaceans such as discarded seafood shells. Despite not being entirely vegan, the material utilizes about eight million tons of shells that are discarded by the global food industry every year. 

3. Palm leather by Tjeerd Veenhoven

Using the fiber of areca palms (Dypsis Lutescens), Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven managed to turn this brittle material into something pliable that can be used to fashion items such as bags and shoe soles. 

4. Bio-leather by Shahar Livne

This bio-leather is made from discarded animal fat and bones that are thrown away by slaughterhouses. The material can be molded and has already been integrated into a pair of trainers designed by the Israeli designer in collaboration with a German footwear brand. 

5. Mylo by Bolt Threads

Created from mycelium, or the branching filament structure in mushrooms and other fungi, the material is said to consume less water than needed to produce animal leather while emitting fewer greenhouse gases.

6. Lino Leather by Don Kwaning

Over a series of experiments, Don Kwaning has adapted linoleum, which is commonly used as flooring, to make various kinds of leathers. One version mimics the textured, wrinkly finish of leather made of cattle stomach while another one copies the soft exterior and flexibility of more commercial varieties.

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