The Van Trump Report

More Brands Embracing “Fake Leather”… Might Ultimately Create Increasing Crop Demand

Trendy sneaker brand “Allbirds” has made a name for itself with its signature wool runners. The company’s sustainability commitments have also won the brand legions of fans. Allbirds is now releasing its first faux-leather shoe called the “Plant Pacer,” made from a natural recipe of rubber, plant oils, rice hulls, and citrus peels. In other words, we might start finding new uses for crops as more businesses push toward “social sustainability”. 

The 100% vegan leather is called “Mirum” and was developed by materials innovation company Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), which they made specifically for the footwear industry. NFW claims Mirum is also 100% free from plastic, unlike most other faux-leather materials. Additionally, Mirum boasts a carbon footprint that is allegedly -88% lower than traditional cow leathers and -75% lower than pleather. The product can also be recycled directly back into new Mirum. NFW has a post detailing the production process HERE. 

Allbirds invested $2 million in NFW, based in Illinois, in February 2021 to help support the development of Mirum. They planned to launch the Plant Pacer later that year but production hiccups delayed the shoe’s development until now.

Mirum’s development was also funded in part by Australia-based private investment firm Tattarang, parent company of bootmaker R.M. Williams. Tattarang actually sunk $26.8 million into NFW with the specific intent of incorporating the material into a new line of vegan-leather boots from R.M. Williams. Tattarang chief investment officer John Hartman says the company has no plans to phase out real leather products. “However we know consumers are increasingly seeking high-performance, plastic-free leather alternatives,” Hartman said.

The agricultural byproduct-based material has also has some high-end fashion fans, such as designer bag label Modher, Spanish footwear brand Camper, and Swiss luxury watch giant IWC Schaffhausen. This summer, NFW announced a partnership with sustainable design house Veshin Factory to expand access to Mirum for brands in the market for plant-based leather alternatives. Porsche is reportedly also testing Mirum for potential uses.  

Mirum is hardly the only fake leather product on the market now. In fact, the number of faux-leathers has absolutely exploded in recent years, especially with the fashion world under heavy scrutiny for its failings on the sustainability front. A mycellium-based leather from Bolt Threads has also caught the attention of big-name brands like Lululemon and Stella McCartney. Gucci developed its own bio-based leather called “Demetra” which it intends to sell to other brands. Then there is Reformation’s “Cereal Leather,” which is literally made form cereals and grains. (Sources: TechCrunch, RetailDive, VogueBusiness)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *