“Leather alternatives” are a great way to expand offerings even if you’re not searching for an animal-leather replacement.
I love animal leather, no doubt, and plan to use it as long as my fingers can stand it. So if you’re looking for someone who eschews leather for [insert your own reason here], I am not the maker for you. Thanks for visiting, and have a great day!
Still here? Awesome. :0)
Some leather workers display a knee-jerk reaction to the idea of non-animal “leather” — to the extent that they flat out refuse to try a material “because it’s not real leather”. Which is no big deal; if they want to stick with leather as their specialty they’re on the right track by excluding these other options, because, not being made of animal skin/hide THEY ARE NOT LEATHER! As you can see, I’m of the opinion that while something not made from an animal should not be called leather, I realize that’s a battle we can’t likely win. I’ll do my part by putting the word leather in quotes when referencing a non-animal-based “leather” and then think of each offering as yet-another-material to appreciate, drool over, and use on its own or in combination with leather.
Here are some I’m following with interest. I’d be happy to try any (where publicly available and monetarily feasible*) should a customer desire to be a guinea pig, er, an explorer who cares to venture into the unknown along with me. I do turn up my piggish snout at materials made from petroleum products and as far as I can tell in my research so far, the ones I’ve listed are not petroleum-based.
Existing and up and coming options are pretty exciting. Matrix will be updated from time to time as new info becomes known to me. Know of something else that fits here? Feel free to drop me a line!
|Source ||Brand ||R&D By ||Additional Info |
|Bacteria and Yeast ||--- ||--- ||Kombucha "leather"; Can be grown at home |
|Cactus ||Desserto||Adriano Di Marti |
Blurb Desserto® is a highly sustainable plant based vegan leather made from cactus, often distinguished by its great softness at touch while offering a great performance for a wide variety of applications and complying with the most rigorous quality and environmental standards. ... Desserto® has competitive features handling humidity and liquids very well, it is fully customizable and breathable.
|Purchase @ Adriano Di Marti|
|Collagen ||ZOA ||Modern Meadow|
Blurb ZOA is Modern Meadow’s world of materials. Designed in our lab, it is created for both the eco-minded and design conscious. Made with a bio-alloy and assembled with engineered proteins and bio-based polymers, the first premium ZOA product is not only sustainable but also meets our high performance and aesthetic standards.
|[availability unknown; do you know? drop me a line!] |
|Cork ||--- ||--- ||Widely available through many fabric and leather suppliers |
|Grape ||VEGEA||a.k.a. Wine "leather" ; Info ; [availability unknown ; do you know? drop me a line!] |
|Leaf ||--- ||--- ||Banana tree leaves ; found reference at Tree Tribe, but only for products they make, not for sale of the material to other crafstman that I can find ; do you know? drop me a line!] ||--- |
|Leaf ||beLEAF ||Nova Kaeru|
Blurb BeLEAF ™ is the most innovative and eco-friendly material ever created. This product of natural and renewable origin is surprisingly comfortable and resistant.
|Elephant Ear plant leaves ; Purchase @ District Leathers (--> verifying if DL's product is the beLEAF product or needs a new entry) |
|Leaf ||--- ||--- ||Tea tree leaves ; found reference at Tree Tribe, but only for products they make, not for sale of the material to other crafstman that I can find ; do you know? drop me a line!] ||--- |
|Mushroom ||MuSkin ||Grado Zero Espace Research Lab|
Blurb It comes from the Phellinus ellipsoideus, a kind of big parasitic fungus that grows in the wild and attacks the trees in the subtropical forests. The total absence of toxic and chemical substances, involved in its production, makes Muskin ideal for the use in close-to-skin applications. Its very natural origin and the presence of natural penicillins substances, limits bacteria proliferation.
|FAQs ; Purchase @ Life Materials ; ~ .5 cm to 1 cmwhich is:~ 5 mm to 10 mm~ 12-13 oz to >20 oz (20 oz is approx. 8 mm) ** |
|Mycelium ||Mylo Unleather ||Bolt Threads|
Blurb Made from mycelium — the complex latticework of underground fibers so strong they hold the planet together — Mylo is soft, supple, and less harmful to the environment.
|FAQs ; Available through consortium partner products only -- adidas, Kering, lululemon, and Stella McCartney |
|Mycelium ||Reishi ||Mycoworks|
Blurb Our first product, Reishi™, is a new category of material that is neither animal nor plastic. The perfect intersection of art and science, and an advanced manufacturing platform built to improve supply chains for fashion and luxury.
|[availability unknown ; do you know? drop me a line!] |
|Pineapple ||Piñatex ||Ananas Anam, Dr. Carmen Hijosa |
Blurb Piñatex® is made from the leaves of the pineapple plant, the byproduct of the fruit industry, which are traditionally discarded or burned. Adding value to this waste has created a new source of income for farming communities who otherwise rely on a seasonal harvest. Once the fibre has been stripped from the leaf the leftover biomass can be retained to use as a natural fertiliser or bio-fuel, offering a further environmental prospect.
|FAQs ; Purchase @ Ananas Anam ; 1.6 - 1.7 mm which is ~ 4 oz ** |
* To my customers: Do understand that the price you see on a linked site will be less than what you’d be charged for the material due to ye olde overhead and ye olde markup costs necessary for making a profit on the end product; suffice to say, most of these (cork notably excepted) will be more expensive per square foot than most non-exotic leathers. Because any of these would be a non-standard product for me at this time, a deposit will likely be required. Interested? Let’s talk. :0)
** Leather thickness is typically referred to in mm or ounces.