In the last few years, the concept of 'leather' has had a real overhaul.
Following the concerns about fashion's contribution to the current global climate crisis, innovative companies are rethinking the way that we produce and consume this highly polluting material, which contributes to climate change, deforestation, water and land pollution, and many other environmental issues.
Where we once had the choice of wearing animal skins or petroleum-derived 'pleather', we're now faced with a plethora of options that all derive from natural sources: leather can now be made from pineapples, cork, apples, corn, kombucha, mushrooms...and mangoes?
Previously unheard of, mango leather is a creation of Dutch material innovation company FruitLeather Rotterdam, which claims to 'transform leftover fruit into a durable, leather-like material'.
Founders Koen Meerkerk and Hugo De Boon, both 26, are real millennial material innovators: their mango-derived material helps solve several problems. One of them is food waste: the two founders noticed unsold fruit being wasted at local markets in Rotterdam, and decided to recover the unsold products to use in their materials. The second issue is the fact that leather kills one billion animals every year, putting most of them through the horrors of factory farming, and puts an enormous strain on the planet.
In the process, which currently takes place at the company's facilities in Rotterdam, mangoes are mashed and boiled to eliminate bacteria. The resulting fruit puree is spread on a surface and left to dry, resulting in resistant sheets of leather-like material that the company offers to brands and designers.
Luxury vegan handbags
As of yet, it hasn't been possible to buy fashion made from mango leather in the UK – but London vegan fashion label Luxtra is setting out to change that.
Founder Jessica Kruger is becoming one of the first retailers in the country to launch designs made from mango leather created by FruitLeather Rotterdam – and if it's anything like her existing range in Piñatex pineapple leather and Frumat apple leather, the results are bound to be sensational.
“I'm always on the search for the most innovative materials," Kruger told Plant Based News. “At the same time, that means that sometimes they are harder to work with because more development is required. I've therefore been working with FruitLeather Rotterdam for more than two years to get the product right.”
Fashionable and functional
And with the sleek, sophisticated silhouettes that define Luxtra, there is no doubt that the mango designs will be another hit for this elevated vegan brand.
So what makes mango leather suitable for fashion? Aside from its fight against food waste and valuable eco credentials, it's the perfect blend of fashionable and functional.
"It's a very thick material, so it's perfect for accessories," explains Kruger. "Also, FruitLeather Rotterdam can do all sorts of embossments on the leather. It simply looks stunning.”
You can check out Luxtra's online shop here