Why Use Biobased Althernatives to Leather?

Why Use Biobased Althernatives to Leather?

At iFarmaissance we made a conscious decision from the very beginning to use biobased alternatives to leather in all our handbag and accessory products. These biobased based materials are wholly or partly derived from biomass, such as trees or plants. We currently use materials manufactured from biomass resources such as grape and apple resides, pineapple leaf fibres and regeneratively grown cactus.

So why use these materials?

Traditionally natural leather has been the premium choice for handbags and accessories but has become increasingly criticized for its negative environmental impacts and animal cruelty issues. Synthetics such as PU (polyurethane) have become cheaper replacements for natural leather but as a fossil based plastic this introduces other undesirable chemicals and pollutants.

The manufacturing of products from biobased materials requires less energy, much less water and chemicals. They are generally thinner, so more lightweight, breathable and potentially easier to work with.

Innovation

There is a huge amount of research and innovation in the field of bio-fabricated leather alternatives. Not all of these currently available options are perfect when it comes to environmental impact. With innovation such as this there needs to be support to bring commercially viable, transformative change that can really positively impact our consumer choices going forward. They need our support, at both an industrial level with investment and shared knowledge, and at the consumer level with our buying decisions. Demand drives the innovation and investment.

As these new materials are so new, no comprehensive Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) have been completed. Only over time and through continuing innovation can we find the best leather alternatives. We cannot wait when we already have substitutes that a least go some way to alleviating the issues we know surround the use of natural leathers. We need to get on board now.

The Future

At iFarmaissance, we are focussed on making the most fashionable and stylish biobased handbags and accessories possible. At the same time we are investing heavily in the research and development of new biobased materials that will ultimately satisfy a full end-to-end LCA, starting with our concept of “Farm to Closet”, increasing product durability and ensuring there is full circularity through to end-of-life.

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Our Materials

We selected Biobased Leather Alternatives to produce our bags to raise awareness about Climate, Biodiversity and Nature.

What is Biobased Leather Alternatives? It's a plant-based and refers to leather-like material that is wholly or partly derived from the food waste or by-products from agriculture - biomass, originally from plants or trees. iFarmaissance uses a variety of biomass sources such as grape residue from the waste of the wine making process and apple residue from the leftover pomace and peel from the fruit juice and compote industry, as well as pineapple leaf fibres and regeneratively grown cactus.

Our founder’s assignment of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge is now supported by The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel, in conjunction with The HKSAR Innovation and Technology Commission for R & D Biobased leather alternatives with the professors of City University of Hong Kong to bring this plan to life in a real life scenario and to contribute to a Decarbonisation Solution for the World.

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