Versatile, durable and sustainable – how engineered leather is breaking into consumer goods

Sustainability and fashion don’t always go hand in hand. After all fashion trends are fleeting and change from season to season. So how do fashion companies tackle the issue of sustainability?

Vogue Magazine reported recently ambitious plans by Solstiss to create biodegradable lingerie   and John Lewis’ plan to launch a sustainable fashion collection that will withstand the test of time (and fashion trends). On the other hand, schemes like Vestiaire Collective – where consumers can pick up a bargain on preloved luxury goods – are gaining momentum giving used items second life.

Schemes like these prove that sustainability within the fashion industry can be tackled in many ways. Fashion colleges and university degrees are now emphasising the need for circular design by considering the materials but also the application of each project.

Earlier this year Fashion United published a list of sustainability trends for 2019 and one of those was finding viable alternatives for the materials already in use. The search for sustainable alternatives is not something reserved just for global brands as it turns out…

Material that’s reliable for mass production and unique for handmade items

Looking at top brands within the fashion industry, each of them is searching for the most sustainable solution in their own way. From Hugo Boss’ shoes made from pineapple fibre, to Burberry’s five year sustainability plan, to Nike’s innovative and high performance Flyleather – there are countless  other examples. But using sustainable solutions isn’t just the top dog’s prerogative.

Lauren Maybe Maybel

Lauren Holloway (pictured left)  has a small studio in Bristol, UK where she designs and produces handbags. “I was a photographer for ten years but I’ve always wanted to do something more creative on the side. I loved textiles at school and so when I came back from travelling, I decided to start making and selling bags. My fist collection was sold on Etsy and now I have my own ecommerce website”.

A big part of Maybe Maybel’s (Lauren’s business) philosophy is focused on sustainability and finding responsibly manufactured alternative materials. “I used to use recycled, bonded leather for few years but that wasn’t produced in the UK. Then the manufacturer stopped producing that particular product so I had to look for a new supplier.”

That’ how Lauren stumbled upon engineered leather. Having received samples of selected colours and grains, she decided to order a full roll and use it in the production of her bags going forward.

Engineered for performance and style

Maybe Maybel bags (shown right) are made with a mix of engineered leather and fabric. “I’ve always been keen to use sustainable materials without compromising on the quality of look and feel. When selecting a new leather substitute, the material had to look good on its own but also against the fabric – I think people do like the mix of (engineered) leather and fabric in a bag design.”

Working with engineered leather, Lauren had to amend the set up and the way she used her sewing machine, although she says this is the case with all new materials. “ELeather is thicker and stronger than the bonded leather I used before” she says.

“It looks and feels great on its own and against fabric and more importantly is strong and durable which is crucial in an everyday bag. People use bags to carry heavy items, they hang them up, put them on the floor, use them come rain or shine and it’s important for my brand to be able to provide a product that can withstand all that.”

Not just another leather substitute

Leveraging ELeather’s sustainability credentials provides Maybe Maybel with a differentiation point against her local and online competitors. A revolutionary process combines leather fibres without the use of unfriendly adhesives that can be harmful to the environment and this (amongst our other sustainability proof points) makes our engineered leather the most sustainable leather alternative.

Other ‘vegan’ materials are mainly synthetics and microfibres, generally made of plastic and are far from being biodegradable, therefore not environmentally responsible. At ELeather, we think it’s better to use the natural resources we have available, working with the planet instead of adding to it.

Sustainable future without compromise

The application possibilities of engineered leather within lifestyle and fashion industries are endless. It’s truly versatile and customisable product suitable for use with secondary processes such as printing, embossing or laser etching providing designers with opportunities to create memorable brand experiences for their customers.

It’s available in a wide variety of textures and limitless selection of colours.This is often highlighted in our trend collections and a variety of ELeather’s own articles including handbags, wallets, document holders, earbud cases and eve yoga mats!

Whether you’re searching for a sustainable alternative to leather for your boutique business, or to fulfil a production line of your current product, get in touch to request a sample and discuss your project requirements.

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