5 Innovative Vegan Materials Designers Use Instead Of Leather

As more people opt for eco-friendly and animal-friendly clothing and accessories, fashion bosses are becoming more inventive in their fabric choices
Bag by LaBante London
Conscious designers are pairing style with eco-friendly fabrics (Photo: LaBante London)

The global vegan leather market is growing, set to skyrocket to $85 billion by 2025, according to a 2017 report by business consulting firm Grand View Research (GVR).

A number of factors are influencing this growth, with technological advances in the quality of the faux leather materials playing a part.

Vegan accessories are seeing a boom - with more items, including bags and shoes, replicating the look and feel of leather, but without the cruelty or heavy environmental impact.

1. Blue Star Premium Vegan Leather

Blue Star Premium Vegan Leather is a specially sourced premium vegan leather which is made from recycled fabric and other complex compounds. It is used by designer Vanita Bagri, Founder and CEO of LaBante London, a vegan-certified brand producing luxury handbags and sunglasses.

"We are PVC free because PVC cannot be broken down by the environment - we believe it is important to be both cruelty-free and sustainable," she told Plant Based News. "Sustainability in fashion isn't given enough importance, especially by the big boys out there."

In addition, Bagri lines her designs with a polyester lining which is made from recycled plastic bottles.

"At LaBante London the state of our environment is of utmost importance to us," she said. "There's a lot of plastic being thrown in the oceans, it impacts sea life. How much more is it going to take for everyone to wake up and see the problem? We can all see the problem - someone needs to take a stand."

2. Coffee leather

One of the most interesting recent developments in the vegan leather market is an alternative made from coffee.

Created by German company Nat-2, which was founded in 2007 by Sebastian Thies, the material is currently available in the form of two styles of sneaker - high and low tops.

The kind of coffee used in the production of the sneakers depends on what kind is the most sustainable to harvest.

Coffee trainers
Sneakers made from coffee leather (Photo: Nat-2)

3. Faux fur made from plastic bottles

Fur has long been considered one of the cruelest fabrics around - and with good reason. The fur industry kills more than 50 million animals every year by drowning, poisoning, gassing or electrocuting, after miserable lives trapped in tiny, often filthy cages.

On top of that, it is an intensive product which is bad for the environment, as  animal skins are treated with highly toxic chemicals like chromium and formaldehyde, to stop the skin from rotting.

Now manufacturer Ecopel is developing a solution - faux fur material made from recycled plastic bottles. The product is still in the early stages of development.

"As fur is a more complex fiber to create, the technique is quite challenging," says Ecopel’s Communications Manager Arnaud Brunois. "But we believe this new fur will be a very exciting new addition to the fashion industry, in line with what new generations want."

4. Orange silk

Very few people are aware of the cruelty of silk. Silkworms are intensively farmed n their thousands and sometimes boiled alive so the yarns can be extracted to make the silk fabric.

In addition, silk can also be very environmentally intensive, with The 2017 Pulse of Fashion Industry Report rating it second (after leather) when it comes to pollution throughout the production process.

But now, Italian brand Orange Fiber has created a revolutionary new natural fabric to replace silk - which is made from oranges, using fibers leftover from orange juice production.

The brand extracts cellulose from the leftovers that remain after the fruits are juiced and transforms it into a soft, luxurious silk-like fabric.

5. 'Spider' silk

Another alternative to traditional silk is 'spider silk' made by innovative fabric company Bolt Threads. Despite the name, the fabric does not come from spiders - and in fact, is completely vegan.

Bolt Threads has mimicked in the softness and durability of spider's web in its Microsilk material, by developing proteins through bioengineering, where genes are added into yeast. The yeast is then fermented with sugar and water and the liquid silk proteins are extracted, to create an eco-friendly fabric that's cruelty-free, and easier to care for.

This article is advertorial for LaBante London

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