All my posts promoting fashion sustainability tend to focus on people as consumers. It can't be said enough, we all have the power and responsibility to change the way brands operate, simply by adjusting our shopping behaviour. But this time it’s all about innovative fabrics!
The research of alternatives to animal leather is nothing new, but when luxury brands and considerable investment come into play, it clearly shows a shift in the right direction and on a far greater scale.
Hermès-backed startup Mycoworks, which produces mushroom leather, has raised $125 million funding to build its first full-scale manufacturing plant in South Carolina.
At the end of last year, Stella McCartney has also promoted mushroom leather at COP26 in Glasgow, from rival Bold Thread. I had the opportunity of touching it while producing my 'Eco Warrior Styling' video, and it really feels just like leather.
Last summer, much was written about Gucci having developed its own vegan leather, although on their website there isn't a clearly designated section with products made from this material. You do need to read each product's material information.
I have contacted Gucci about this and they sent me this link, where all sneakers are made from Demetra, the brand's mushroom leather. In any case, these developments indicate a growing demand for alternatives to animal leather, which is definitely good news.
Nina Marenzi is the founder and director of The Sustainable Angle, which hosts its annual Future of Fabrics Expo showcasing sustainable and responsibly produced materials. The 10th edition will take place on 28-29 June 2022 at Victoria House Studio in London.
While talking to Monocle, she emphasised the role of the designer in the decision making process: “it’s the designer who actually controls 80% of the environmental impact of the product.”
The choice of materials is obviously crucial in the early stages of developing new products, and designers can do a lot to lead positive change, nonetheless I do have to go back to our power as consumers.
“Thinking you can just produce more products in more sustainable materials without addressing overconsumption is a fallacy.” Nina Marenzi, The Sustainable Angle
Each of us can also do something about climate change, and challenge the current modus operandi of the fashion industry, by buying less and more mindfully. It’s important to remember this.