These Are The Homegrown Brands Making Vegan Leather From Plant Waste Advertisement
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These Are The Homegrown Brands Making Vegan Leather From Plant Waste

Cruelty-free and eco-friendly? It’s a win-win!

By Isha Mayer  March 23rd, 2021

The topic of vegan fashion is nothing new. With a rise in sustainable and ethical clothing, most people have consciously made a shift towards it, especially towards vegan leather. While this is a positive step towards conscious consumerism, did you know that not all types of vegan leather are good for the environment? Most brands use petroleum-based plastics like PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) as leather alternatives, which is non-biodegradable and causes major land and ocean pollution when discarded.

On the bright side, there are labels that are coming up with innovative ideas by creating faux leather from plant-based alternatives to reduce the environmental impact. Known for being one of the pioneers of sustainability in fashion, international designer Stella McCartney has always made clothing and accessories from planet-friendly vegan materials. And very recently, the designer debuted the world’s first garments made from Mylo™, a vegan mushroom leather made from infinitely renewable mycelium – the root system of mushrooms.

 

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Homegrown labels in India have also been taking the initiative of making sustainable leather from plant waste (such as extracts of coconuts, leaves of pineapple plants, cacti, and more) or blending the same with synthetic material to lessen greenwashing. These are the brands that should be on your radar.

1. Malai

The newly developed biocomposite material made from entirely organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose, Malai refers to the creamy flesh of the coconut and has the look and feel of leather. It is the coconut water (a by-product from the harvesting of coconut flesh) that sustains the bacteria while producing the cellulose, which is collected and refined until it becomes the finished, compostable fabric. The Kerela-based brand makes accessories and decor products from Malia fabric and gained immense popularity after winning the Circular Design Challenge at Lakme Fashion Week 2020.

 

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2. Arture

Meaning art + nature, Arture has a range of classy wallets made from 100% natural cork fabrics. The brand gets the cork from the Mediterranean region, which is where the fabric is cultivated. The process of harvesting cork oak does not harm the tree. Here’s how: the bark is stripped from a mature tree during the late spring, and summer seasons, the tree is left to regenerate its bark over a period of 9 years, and this bark is then turned into a strong and flexible cork fabric.

 

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The brand also experiments with cactus leather, which is derived from Prickly Pear (a type of cactus plant) grown in the southwestern regions of the United States and Mexico. After the cactus leaves mature, it is trimmed, dried, and treated to make leather. The process doesn’t kill the plant as the mature leaves are replaced by newer ones. The cactus regenerates in 6-8 months after being harvested.

 

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3. Aulive

The next time you’re on the lookout for a handbag or new suitcase, check out Aulive. While the label admits that its products are not fully biodegradable, what we appreciate is that its website has created a Recycle tab, which encourages customers to recycle the items through a proper process in case they choose to discard them. Additionally, since 2019, the label has also taken a conscious step by tying up with the London-based company, Piñatex®, which makes vegan leather from the discarded leaves of a pineapple plant during harvest, and has introduced The Piña Collection. In this way, the brand is pledging to be not only cruelty-free but also planet-friendly.

 

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4. A Big Indian Story

Experimenting with pineapple fibre leather, A Big Indian Story has also collaborated with Piñatex® to sell a selected range of plant-based leather products.

 

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5. Fleather By Team Phool

Automation engineer Ankit Agarwal discovered Fleather, an innovative type of leather from flower waste, which would have otherwise been dumped in River Ganga. Along with scientist Saumya Srivastava, Ankit runs a startup named PHOOL, which makes natural incense sticks and cones, Holi colours and more from eight metric tonnes of floral waste from temples mosques. When his team noticed a dense, fibrous mat growing on a pile of unused flower fibres, whose appearance, texture, elasticity and tensile strength resembled that of leather, Fleather was born. Ankit received accolades from the United Nations, has won the Circular Design Challenge at LFW last year and has many more awards for his cutting-edge product. Designers like Anita Dongre have taken a keen interest in this material, and the team hopes to collaborate with international designers in the future to make products from Fleather. 

 

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Photographs: Instagram