Sustainable Fashion Lovers, Meet Grape Leather
Conventional leather is made of animals. No matter what animal leather comes from, a cow, a goat, or a lamb, leather means cruelty and killing of animals. The most common kind of leather, cow skin, is also the most environmentally impactful material to produce, according to the Global Fashion Agenda. The most common alternative to animal skin leather is vegan polyurethane, which has half the environmental impact. But for those who want to reduce their fashion footprint as much as possible, it may be time to get fruity with leather...
Leather made from fruit waste
More and more people might be familiar with pineapple leaf leather, a material Kinds of Grace uses in one collection. However there are a few other fruity leathers too, with a newer innovative fruit leather being made from grapes!
The animal free leather is produced by a few different companies, including VEGEA, who pioneered the kind and sustainable material. Grapes, or more accurately, the fruit waste from wine production, are turned into a cruelty-free material for animal free bags, jackets, car seats and couches in a few steps...
Skins, stalks and seeds
When producing wine, the skins, stalks and seeds of grapes are not used. Normally, this would mean they are wasted. However, these organic materials are exactly what creates grape leather. The Italian material company VEGEA works with Italian wineries to save their waste and make it new. 10 litres of wine can produce 1 litre of 'wine leather'.
The stalk and skin is dried out, pulverised into a fine powder, and non-toxic chemicals and oils are combined with the fruit matter to produce the leather material. There is no water wastage, and no petroleum oil used - something which previously has been central to the production of animal leather alternatives. Instead, a bio-oil is pulled from the grape seeds!
Sustainable on every level
Most man-made materials require a 'backing' - for example polyurethane is often based on a thin synthetic yarn like polyester. The production of this material requires petroleum oil, and will not biodegrade. Instead, grape leather is being produced with all sorts of eco-friendly material backings like GOTS certified and recycled cotton, hemp, bamboo and recycled materials.
And Other Stories produced these beautiful sandal heels from grapes.
Better than animal skin
Not only is grape leather an ethical, animal cruelty free alternative to leather skins, it feels and performs beautifully. All sorts of amazing vegan handbags, vegan purses, vegan shoes and other fashion products can be made from this material.
The material is still new, so it may be a little longer before we see this product spreading widely. However, it is already being used by some large brands including H&M, And Other Stories, Bentley Automotive, and more. The material comes in traditional wine colours naturally, and can be dyed into all sorts of light and dark colours, too. Get used to wearing more fruit!