Which is sure to shake up the fashion industry: the world’s first 100% natural plant-based leather alternative. Could this initiative spell the demise of two of fashion’s most popular materials — animal leather and synthetic leather?
After fabrics made from renewable eucalyptus trees, sugarcane shoe soles and sustainable underwear, the Allbirds brand has gone one step further in its mission to propose viable and sustainable green solutions in one of the world’s most polluting industries.
The brand today announced a $2 million investment in the company, Natural Fiber Welding, Inc. in the aim of producing the world’s first 100% natural plant-based leather alternative.Called “Plant Leather,” this sustainable alternative to animal or synthetic leathers is made using vegetable oil, natural rubber and other bio-ingredients, the brand explains in a news release. The firm also states that this new material is scalable and affordable, and has 40 times less carbon impact than leather and 17 times less carbon than synthetic leather made from plastic.
“For too long, fashion companies have relied on dirty synthetics and unsustainable leather, prioritizing speed and cost over the environment. Natural Fiber Welding is creating scalable, sustainable antidotes to leather, and doing so with the potential for a game-changing 98% reduction in carbon emissions. Our partnership with NFW and planned introduction of Plant Leather based on their technology is an exciting step on our journey to eradicate petroleum from the fashion industry,” said Joey Zwillinger, co-founder and CEO of Allbirds.
This isn’t the first time that the Allbirds brand has turned to plants to develop eco-friendly and quality materials for customers of the “made from nature, for nature” brand. Eucalyptus, sugarcane and even castor bean oil feature as ingredients of several of the brand’s sneakers ranges.
Note that there are currently several sustainable leather alternatives out there, including mushroom leather, pineapple leather and leather made using coffee grounds. However, for the most part, these alternatives are not (yet) sold on mass scale. It now remains to be seen whether Plant Leather will put a (definitive) end to the use of animal and synthetic leathers in the fashion industry. Watch this space.