When designers consider eco-friendly textile options, leather often comes in dead last, for obvious reasons. But finding a good alternative can be tricky. Sure, pleather is animal-free and does not necessitate a toxic tanning process. However, any textile made of plastic isn’t that much better for the environment.
For the environmentally conscious designer who doesn’t want to choose between two “evils”, a new option is in development, aptly named Eco-Leather.
This “leather” is high quality and comprised of natural materials. The creator, Richard Wool, says of the textile, “We can design leather much better than an animal can…and it’s all green and sustainable.” Faux leather that’s better than the original? Yes please!
Eco-Leather is made up of either flax or cotton fibers that are then mixed with plant oils such as palm, soybean, or corn. Any material used is sustainable to keep the textile’s carbon footprint low. This mixture is then layered together to create a material with a similar look and feel to leather.
NOTE: An article in FastCo mentions that this material also used chicken feathers, so while it’s eco-friendly, it’s seems that it’s not vegan,
Even if you have nothing against real leather, Eco-Leather is worth a look.
Because it is made from plant fibers rather than plastic or hide, it is much more breathable. This can potentially give designers more flexibility in how the textile can be used. A natural leather skirt might be too sweaty for the summer months, but Eco-Leather could extend the look beyond the fall and winter seasons.
A few larger labels, including Adidas and Nike, have received samples of Eco-Leather. Puma was also given some material to experiment with, and created a pair of prototype sneakers with it.
The textile is still in development- there are a few design kinks that need to be worked out. But it is a great start, and certainly something eco-friendly designers can look forward to.