Designers Cultivate Plant-Based Leather
Fashion designers branch out to plant-based textiles in response to growing demand for sustainable and cruelty-free products, and as supply chains seek to lower their carbon footprint. These leather alternatives are heating up:
Cactus: Fast fashion company H&M is partnering with Mexico-based Desserto to create a new collection, including shoes made from cactus leather. Desserto makes the cactus fabric by turning organic nopal cactus leaves into a partially biodegradable, vegan material that resembles leather. The fabric can be used to make bags, accessories, clothes, boxing gloves, furniture, and car interiors.
Castor Oil: H&M’s new collection will also incorporate EVO by Fulgar, a bio-based material made from castor oil. Fulgar says EVO is a completely renewable resource, does not require much water to grow, and does not take any farmland from food agriculture.
Apples: Once the juice is extracted from apples, the remaining pulp is normally discarded. Italian company Frumat SRL developed a fabric made from the pulp, which is dried and ground to a powder, mixed with pigments and a binding agent, and left until it resembles leather. Designer Tommy Hilfiger used it to make sneakers in its zero-waste collection.
Mushrooms: Luxury brand Hermès is partnering with MycoWorks, a California-based startup with a patent that turns the threads of a mushroom root into materials that look and feel like leather. The first byproduct of the collaboration will be a travel bag, expected at the end of 2021.