Piñatex, Lino or Mylo - What is vegan leather and the innovation behind?

Fashion brands are currently showing the way forward: Bags, shoes and clothing made from pineapples, palm trees and mushrooms? Everything you need to know about innovative leather alternatives

Stella Mylo vegan leather, what is vegan leather?
Source & Copyright by Stella McCartney

Author: Ilka Bröskamp

Leather without animal suffering? Innovative fashion companies are currently conquering the market with vegetable, plastic-free leather alternatives. But what exactly is vegan leather? Find out more about sustainable alternatives to animal-based leather. When it comes to food, vegan alternatives are nothing new and have long been more than just a trend. With increasing awareness for environmental and animal welfare, there is also a growing desire in the fashion industry for sustainable alternatives to leather.

Stella McCartney recently launched the first fashion collection made of mushroom leather and also renowned brands such as Hermès and Adidas most recently are offering their leather classics made of vegan materials. But what is vegan leather, what is it made of and what alternatives are there.

What is vegan leather?

Vegan leather does not contain any animal ingredients. Instead plant-based substitutes such as pineapple fibers, palm leaves or biotechnological materials based on fungi are being used. Vegan leather is therefore one thing above all - diverse!

More and more young, creative manufacturers are developing innovative imitations of leather, which not only do without animal materials, but often also without controversial, environmentally harmful plastics such as polyurethane (PU) and polyester . They prove that the future of leather can be sustainable. Here are four vegan leather alternatives that are in terms of appearance and quality in no way inferior compared to their original.

 Adidas vegan Mylo Stan Smith, what is vegan leather?

Adidas vegan Stan Smith from Mylo - Source & Copyright by Adidas

Interesting topics: Vegan en vogue - Top 5 luxury labels for vegan clothing

5 innovative alternatives for vegan leather

1. Piñatex pineapple leather

The British company Ananas Anam is one of the first manufacturers of vegan leather. The resource material of this leather alternative, called Piñatex, are pineapple leaves. These are actually a waste product of the pineapple harvest in the Philippines. Like leather, pineapple fibres are tanned, but almost exclusively with biodegradable chemicals, instead of the toxic chromium. The production of the vegan leather alternative Piñatex is particularly sustainable, especially because of the recyclable raw materials.

It factor: The end product is a soft, breathable yet hard-wearing, long-lasting material, that has already established itself in the fashion scene. The vegan Piñatex leather has already made its way into the collections of popular brands such as Hugo Boss, Native Shoes, Nae or Votch.

2. Mylo mushroom leather

The latest trends in the fashion industry proves that mushrooms are much more than just food. Several companies are already showing how sustainable and vegan leather can be made from mushrooms. This fungal fibre initially consists of individual, tiny threads growing under the ground.

One of the companies producing the kind of leather is "Grade Zero" from Florence, Italy. MuSkin is the name of the mushroom leather developed by them, which is produced in a completely natural way. The production uses the heads of the so-called Phellinus Ellipsoideus mushrooms. The use of ecological waxes and other environmentally friendly products create the typical leather look. The result is quite impressive, because it is confusingly similar to the noble suede.

The biotech brand "Bolt Threads" is also presenting a specially developed mushroom leather, that has been able to position itself in the fashion world. Mylo is the name of this vegan leather alternative, which is made from mycelium, the subterranean root structure of mushrooms. These threads grow together through optimal growth conditions created by the company Bolt Thread. The result is a soft and sustainable material that not only feels like conventional leather, but also looks like it.

Stella McCartney Mylo Garment, what is vegan leather?

Source & Copyright by Stella McCartney - First garment made from Mylo fibers

It factor: Big fashion houses like Stella McCartney and Adidas are already investing in the production of the mushroom leather Mylo and have already launched their first products on the market. In addition to sustainable, toxin-free production, mushroom leather is considered water-repellent and durable, making it an impressive vegan leather alternative of the future.

3. Palm leather

The Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven also uses vegetable fibres to produce his vegan leather. Instead of processing pineapple leaves, Veenhoven uses the leaves of the areca palm tree. The actually brittle, fragile material is softened in a special solution. After a few days it is malleable and pliable and can be processed further.

It factor: The special thing about palm leather is that only non-toxic substances, such as water and glycerine, are used in its production. So it is not only vegan, but also a particularly environmentally friendly alternative to conventional leather. Veenhaven's bags, kicks, book covers or even carpets prove that palm leather is a leather variant that is as creative as it is fashionable.

4. Lino leather

Most people know linoleum more as a floor covering, which is due to its similarity to acrylic , which is not very popular. What many do not know: Linoleum consists almost entirely of natural raw materials, in a combination of linseed oil and filler such as powdered cork.

Through a series of experiments, the designer Don Kwaning has succeeded in converting linoleum into a variety of leather types. The different weighting of the individual components results in different materials. A rather thick version of the material is reminiscent of the rough, wrinkled structure of cowhide.

It factor: The thinner version, on the other hand, is significantly softer and more flexible. The texture and appearance of this material corresponds to the commercially available types of leather and turns it into a promising vegan leather alternative.

Related topics: Animal welfare vegan belts for men and women

Vegan leather shows the way to the future

Due to its quality and appearance, for many people, leather is an indispensable part of the fashion world. At the same time, environmental protection and animal welfare is increasingly important and can hardly be reconciled with the production of conventional leather. All of the featured innovative ideas and developments show that we will not have to do without leather in the future. Vegan leather offers a real alternative to conventional animal materials and is way ahead of them, especially in terms of sustainability and environmental protection.

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