Fashion Innovation

Vegan Leather – Innovative Materials For Sustainable Fashion


Vegan leather – the answer to sustainable fashion. While the world pushes for renewable energy and alternative solutions, it is safe to say that any major changes, fashion-wise and not only, depend on consumers’ take. And yet, it does not stop academics and experts in leather, fashion, and luxury goods from investigating whether it is possible to end the use of animal skin in personal fashion goods and search for less damaging alternatives to animal leather.

There is no doubt, the consumption of animal leather is not without disastrous consequences to the planet. Such negative impact is reflected by the extinction of rare species and accelerated land and air pollution.

We are talking about irreversible negative effects on a global scale. For example, the process of leather tanning alone has a serious impact on the environment, given the use of toxic chemicals in the process.

Vegan Leather From Parasitic Fungus

According to Muskin, there is a solution that can soon replace the use of animal leather in the manufacturing of personal fashion goods. The product in the discussion is a new type of vegan leather called Muskin, made by the Italian company Grado°Zero Espace based in Montelupo Fiorentino.

Muskin leather is a sustainable alternative to the real, animal leather, and is to be called in this article as ‘vegan leather’. The material is one hundred percent biodegradable, as it is made from the cap of Phellinus ellipsoideus, a parasitic fungus cultivated in a specific woven pattern.
A woman in white shirt holding a lab grown patch of Muskin vegan leather

This vegan leather is extracted from the mushroom caps and processed (tanned) via chemical-free techniques. The raw product resembles suede leather but of a softer texture, which, according to the manufacturer, feels much better on the next-to-skin contact.

The raw material is then further processed to reach the aspect and consistency of real leather while remaining breathable and easy to fold. This type of leather alternative causes no allergies and has no side effects to the human skin, at least as known to date.

Antibacterial Vegan Leather

In fact, lab tests show that Muskin leather is not only much more hygienic when compared to animal leather, but it also possesses strong antibacterial properties.

The mushroom vegan leather is not water-repellant by nature but it can be treated with eco wax to make it waterproof. This means that the usual expenses for chemicals required to waterproof real leather, and the post-manufacturing costs for cleaning the environment can be cut to almost zero.

As the mushroom-based vegan leather is grown, the final patches can vary in size. The standard sizes are about 15-20 cm x 40 cm but larger patches can be grown if needed. At the time of writing this article, the company had a capacity of 50 – 60 square meters of vegan leather per month.
A sewing machine putting together a large patch of vegan leather
It is good to know that Muskin is not the first viable alternative to animal leather that can be used in the fashion industry. The Italian company is world renown for its futuristic, yet very functional materials, such as the Liquid Shell, Spaceskin, and Oricalco, a lightweight “Memory Alloy” fabric with a 45 percent Titanium content!

We encourage you to visit Grado°Zero’s official website as there is so much more to see.

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  1. Why do you continue to call these materials “vegan leather”? By definition leather comes from the hide or skin of an animal, essentially intact. Other materials cannot just adopt the term without accepting that they are deliberately misleading the consumer. Or is that the intention? The term “vegan leather” is expressly illegal in many countries as far apart as Brazil and Germany, in both of which the law is enforced quite strongly. In countries where the law is not precise recent court cases related to consumer protection and misleading advertising have lead to hefty penalties in recent when items have presented themselves as leather.
    Some of the materials you are presenting are good materials and worthy of standing alongside leather, plastics and textile as part of the wide choice that consumers can make, including those who are vegans who prefer to avoid using leather. So there is no rationale for using the term “Vegan Leather” or “Vegan Leather Fashion” other than to deliberate cheat the consumer, which greatly detracts from the value of the producer promoting, and could be costly for them.

  2. Its not leather and it legally cant be called leather – its a vegan material