Bio-based Leather Market, the Natural Fabric Turns Eco-Friendly

Posted in Materials by Adolf on Nov 13,2021 810

From early civilization to the modern age, leather has been a crucial part of every era. Owing to its enduring feature, the material was utilized to create many objects. During the prehistoric times, early forms of leather produced from dried animal skins were used for clothing and shelter.  Later when man started recognising the material as more than just a by-product of the animal, leather progressed in various sections including garments, shoes, accessories, defence and protective items, travel items and much more. In fact, the oldest leather object found in the form of artefacts, was created during the primitive age that dates back to 1300 BC.

There has been an increase in demand for leather goods over the years, due to the innate qualities of the material such as water resistant, dustproof, heat insulation and robustness. Moreover, customers are always on the look-out for attractive and durable products, which is making them move towards the use of premium goods as fashion statements. Many luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci and Prada among others manufacture leather-based accessories for everyday use.

 Bio-based Leather Market

However, people are now becoming increasingly aware about the harmful effects of the leather market, as traditional leathers encourage cruelty towards the animal and promote animal poaching for skin. The move towards an ethical and environment friendly alternative has paved the way for Vegan Leather or Bio-based Leather industry. Bio-based leather is a good option to reduce carbon footprints as well as cruelty towards the animals.

Bio-based means that the material is created from plants or natural resources such as cork, cactus, mushrooms and certain fruit wastes. Bio-based leather finished goods are combined with non-biodegradable materials for a long lasting effect, but it does not mean that the produce is entirely non-disposable. The manufacturing of this bio-based fabric requires much less use of natural resources, while keeping sustainability of the ecology in mind. Fashion labels such as Jill Milan, Matt & Nat, Stella McCartney, Jord, and Versace are using different plant sources for making clutches, bags, watch bands, wallets, purses, belts, jackets, and various other outfits.

Bringing about a Positive Change

The Bio-Based Leather market size is estimated to be US$ 647 million in 2021 and is projected to reach US$ 868 million by 2026, at a CAGR of 6.1% between 2021 and 2026. Factors such as rising trend for sustainable and cruelty free leather will drive the bio-based leather market. People are shifting towards green consumer goods and with exciting innovations happening in this industry, bio-based leather is turning out to be a promising material of the future. However, not all vegan materials can be perfect for manufacturing the required product, but the demand is driving the need for research and investments in the right direction. Also, most of the materials discovered are new and are still not commercially available.

Pineapple based leather is estimated to dominate the overall bio-based leather market, in terms of value, in 2020. Pineapple is a perennial and abundantly grown fruit across the globe. It generates a lot of wastes which includes leaves, stem, pulps and skin. Pinatex is made by the waste from the pineapple harvesting process. The textile has leather-like qualities, but is slightly rougher, giving it a weathered vintage appeal that is well suited for watches, boots, and other accessories. Pinatex is currently preferred by various brands such as Hugo Boss, Altiir, Bourgeois Boheme, Nike and Drew Veloric.

The bio-based leather market size for the garment & accessories industry accounted for the second-largest share of global bio-based leather, in terms of value, in 2020. The bio-based leather for the garments & accessories industry has always been driven by the economies of North America, Europe, and APAC. Most of the countries are expected to continue using traditional leather garments & accessories than the bio-based leather garments & accessories. Garments & accessories consumption is expected to increase worldwide and, subsequently, the consumption of bio-based leather is expected to increase to meet the stringent environmental norms, especially in North America. This dominance is majorly due to rising environmental pollution from the tanneries which uses harmful chemicals for the leather tanning process.

North America was the largest market for bio-based leather in 2020. The region is highly developed; hence, the use of advanced bio-based leather is also high. The use of premium quality bio-based leather in the fashion space and footwear industry is driving the bio-based leather market in the region. The mushroom-based leather is projected to grow at the highest CAGR, in terms of value, during the forecast period in this region. Companies such as MycoWorks and Ecovative Design are manufacturing bio-based leather out of mycelium of fungus in this region.

The footwear end-use industry is estimated to have the largest market in this region due the changing trends amongst millennial and rising awareness amongst public about environment pollution caused by the leather industry. Leading brands like Stella McCartney, Will’s Vegan Shoes, Lulus and Brave GentleMan are leading brands of footwear using bio-based leather in this region. This footwear is mainly made by cork, mushroom and blends of plant sources along with polymer resins.

The key players of the fabric and textile market include Toray Industries Inc. (Japan), Bolt Threads Inc. (US), Ananas Anam Ltd. (UK), Modern Meadows (US), Nat-2 (Germany), Natural Fiber Welding Inc. (US), Ultrafabrics (US), MycoWorks(US), ECCO Leather (Netherlands), VEGEA(Italy), Fruitleather Rotterdam (Netherlands), and Tjeerd Veenhoven studio (Netherlands).

Leather has and will always be an inevitable part of the bygone, as well as the generations to come in the future. From tying pieces of leather on the body and feet by the prehistoric people to using refined leather merchandises today, we have come a long way understanding the material and creating viable alternatives for a sustainable future.

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