French luxury brand Hermès, known for its heirloom leather bags and silk scarves, is set to launch its Victoria travel bag using mushroom-based leather, as reported by The Business of Fashion. Sylvania, a biodegradable alternative to calfskin, has been developed in partnership with MycoWorks, a California-based start-up. This lab-grown material is said to mimic the look and feel of leather.
Image Source: Twitter/designboom
This comes after several brands have also committed to similar sustainable practices, like not using real fur or using better leather tanning processes. However, it’s no secret that leather goods have long since been considered coveted pieces of luxury, owing to their longevity and high quality. While that in itself is a big positive in terms of slow and sustainable fashion, producing real leather leaves behind a huge carbon footprint. Right from the resources used for animal raising to harmful chemicals used in the process of leather tanning, each step causes pollution and emissions that are tough to reverse. While brands like Zara have also adopted eco-friendly tanning methods for their leather products, there’s still a long way to go. This is where biodegradable and plant-based materials play a huge role.
US-Based fashion brand, Ugg, has also launched a line of shoes made with plant-based materials. Ditching petroleum-based products, the brand’s new Plant Power Collection uses foam derived from renewable sugarcane and Tencel Lyocell, a popular fibre made of wood pulp from responsibly- harvested trees.
Image Source: Instagram/ugg
Closer home, Indian brand Studio Beej is using Pinatex, a pineapple-based leather for a number of their handbags and wallets. Their bags are biodegradable and they also use upcycled zippers for their closures.
Kaiyare’s a line of woven bags made from banana fibre and handwoven cotton will make you give leather a miss altogether. Whereas Japanese sportswear brand Asics has introduced a line of shoes made using discarded and second-hand clothes.
While the fashion industry is stepping closer to a more sustainable future, the real power of change lies with the consumer making an informed decision and purchases that will last longer and be disposed better. If you want to make a better choice, look out for materials like Pinatex, Banana Fibre, Tencel Lyocell, Mushroom leather for bags and shoes.