We sat down with the LUXTRA team to talk about the rise of plant based materials, and all you need to know about new innovations in the fashion industry right now.
As consumers become more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases, the demand for plant-based leather alternatives is likely to continue to grow. The rise of plant-based leathers in the fashion industry is driven by a growing awareness of the environmental and ethical issues associated with traditional animal leather production. Using plant based materials are more sustainable than animal leather because they do not require the raising and killing of animals and often use less water, energy and land.
So, why is plant-based leather more environmentally friendly than animal leather?
Animal leather production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. According to a 2018 report by the United Nations, the global livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. In comparison, the production of plant-based leather alternatives such as mushrooms, cork and pineapple, has a much lower carbon footprint. According to a 2018 report by World Wildlife Fund, the global demand for meat and leather is a major driver of deforestation, with around 80% of Amazon rainforest destruction attributed to cattle ranching. In comparison, plant-based leather alternatives can often be produced on a smaller scale, with less land required. Animal leather production also generates huge amounts of waste and pollution. The tanning process of animal hides generates large amounts of hazardous waste and chemical pollution. Plant-based leather alternatives, on the other hand, can often be produced using natural, non-toxic methods that generate less waste and pollution. (It's important to note that different types of plant-based leather alternatives can have different environmental impacts, and some methods of production may be more sustainable than others).
LUXTRA’s mission is to lead positive change in the fashion industry. They work to promote responsible production & consumption by crafting beautiful & evermore sustainable treasures for daily life. Founded in 2018, LUXTRA pushes boundaries with material innovation and continues to highlight lower impact fashion accessories without compromising on the aesthetics. Rather than leather, LUXTRA chose a range of exotic planet friendly materials to create their accessories. From apple skins, pineapple leaves, mangos and corn, LUXTRA knows how to turn your fruit bowl into something so much more.
Take a look at their impressive ingredients list below...
AppleSkin™ is the name of a bio-based leather alternative. It is an innovative new material that is made with waste recovered from the fruit juice industry. Made in Italy from apples grown in Bolzano, a city in the north of the country, the material is approximately 20-30% apple. It is vegan and cruelty-free.
How its made? A mushy pulp (made up of cellulose fibres) is left over as a result of juicing apples on an industrial scale. The AppleSkin materialis produced by recovering this waste product, that would otherwise be discarded, and transforming it into the final material. The precise process is a trade secret, but we do know that the cellulose iseffectively "padding out" the amount of virgin materials required to create AppleSkin. Fewer virgin materials equates to fewer natural resources being extracted from the planet, lower emissions and lower energy consumption across the entire supply chain. The process is patented by FRUMAT, the company that has developed AppleSkin.
Piñatex®is an innovative material made from waste pineapple leaf fibre, a by-product of existing agriculture. The material is natural, sustainably-sourced and cruelty free.
How its made? As the second most consumed fruit in the world, pineapples are harvested by chopping the fruit from its base of leaves. Typically those leaves have no value and are burned or left to break down. Instead, Ananas Anam, the company that creates Piñatex, pays pineapple farmers in the Philippines for the leaves, generating an additional source of income for these farming communities. The fibres are extracted from the leaves through a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by the farming community. The fibres then undergo an industrial process to become a non-woven textile, which is the base of the material. The final step is finishing the fabric which is done by a company in Spain.The Piñatex website naturally provides much more detail.
The latest addition to our growing stable of materials is bio-based e-ULTRA. It's a soft and smooth leather-alternative made from polyurethane (PU). Traditional PU is made from raw materials derived from petroleum. The PU base of e-ULTRA however comes from renewable resources, specifically the non-edible part of corn. The material is recyclable, made without the use of harmful solventsand is fully REACH compliant (an EU regulation protecting human health and the environment).
How its made? Bio-based polyurethane pellets are heated and then extruded, i.e. forced through a die. During the extrusion process, pigments are added to give the material the desired colour. The material then passes through a set of heated rollers, then on to a cooling cylinder which smoothens and sets the surface of the material. Great care is taken to source all raw materials from qualified and certified suppliers.
Whilst Hugo and Koen won't reveal their secret sauce, we understand the process involves the following stages:
- Sourcing surplus mangoes from markets in the Netherlands;
- De-seeding and pulping the fruit;
- Mixing the pulp with a binder;
- Pouring the mix out in to large trays and then screeding the surface for a smooth finish.
The final steps involve drying the material and adding top coats of colour, waterproofing and embossments according to customer requests.
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