Next-Generation Vegan Leather: The Future of Fashion is here

Next-Generation Vegan Leather: The Future of Fashion is here

By Roberto Martínez Romero

In recent years, the fashion industry has experienced a seismic shift towards more ethical and eco-friendly materials. Enter bio-based vegan leather—a game-changer that's transforming the way we think about style and sustainability. Let's dive into what bio-based vegan leather is, how it’s made, and why it’s turning heads (and winning hearts) everywhere.

What is Next-Gen Vegan Leather?

Next-gen materials, which include bio-based vegan leather is a revolutionary alternative to traditional leather, crafted from renewable biological sources instead of animal hides or solely fossil-fuel based petrochemicals.. Unlike animal skin used as  leather, these innovative materials use plants, algae, agricultural waste, fungi, microbes, and even captured CO2. This innovative approach not only reduces reliance on non-renewable resources but also aims to minimize environmental impact.

How is Bio-Based Vegan Leather Made?

Creating bio-based vegan leather involves a fascinating blend of science, technology, and creativity. Here’s a sneak peek into the process:

  1. Sourcing Raw Materials: The journey begins with renewable raw materials. Think pineapple leaves, apple peels, and mushroom mycelium—materials that are abundant, biodegradable, and often considered waste.
  2. Processing: These raw materials undergo specialized processes to extract the necessary fibers or compounds. Techniques like fermentation and extraction are employed to transform these materials into usable components.
  3. Formulation: The extracted materials are then mixed with non-toxic binders and additives, creating a composite material that mimics the properties of traditional leather. This step ensures that the vegan leather is durable, flexible, and visually appealing.
  4. Manufacturing: The composite material is shaped into sheets or other desired forms using traditional manufacturing techniques. Depending on the product requirements, this can include casting, molding, or laminating.
  5. Finishing: Finally, the bio-based vegan leather is given the finishing touches—embossing, dyeing, or coating—to enhance its texture, color, and water resistance. The result? A stunning, sustainable material that's ready to make a statement.

Why Bio-Based Vegan Leather is a Compelling Alternative

Bio-based vegan leather isn’t just a trend—it’s a revolution. Here’s why it’s capturing the imagination of brands and consumers alike:

  1. Environmental Benefits:
  • Water Conservation: According to CollectiveFashionJustice, to make one typical cow skin leather tote, almost 17,128 liters of water are used. That’s like having around 537 showers. If you made the same bag from PU synthetic leather, the water footprint would be reduced over 14 times. Wow!
  • Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Bio-based vegan leather production emits significantly fewer greenhouse gasses compared to animal leather and petrochemical synthetics. It’s a small step for fashion but a giant leap for the planet.
  • Biodiversity Preservation: By utilizing renewable resources and agricultural by-products, we help preserve natural habitats and support biodiversity.
  • Microplastic Reduction: Unlike conventional synthetic leathers, bio-based alternatives contain fewer or no microplastics, reducing pollution and protecting marine life.
              A river in bangladesh is littered with rubbish and the remains of leather. - Photo: WeAnimalsMedia


  1. Ethical Considerations:
  • Animal Welfare: Bio-based vegan leather spares the lives of trillions of wild and farmed, sentient animals, promoting a more compassionate approach to fashion.
  • Human Rights: According to the Material Innovation Initiative's 2023 Annual Report, companies producing bio-based vegan leather often prioritize fair labor practices, ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages for workers.
  1. Economic and Commercial Success:
  • Consumer Demand: As reported by the Material Innovation Initiative (MII), 92% of U.S. consumers surveyed are likely to purchase next-gen products, highlighting a massive market opportunity.
  • Industry Innovation: The fashion industry is buzzing with collaborations between brands and next-gen material innovators. For example, luxury brand Gucci’s development of Demetra leather has set a new standard for high-quality, sustainable alternatives.

The Role of Research and Development

The rise of bio-based vegan leather is fueled by relentless research and development. Organizations like the MII are at the forefront of this movement, driving progress and inspiring over $2.31 billion in investments into next-gen materials since 2019. By increasing visibility, engaging more scientists and entrepreneurs, and fostering innovation, MII is accelerating the development and adoption of environmentally preferable and humane materials.



Bio-based vegan leather is not just a material; it’s a movement. It represents a bold step forward in the fashion industry’s journey towards sustainability and ethical production. By harnessing renewable resources and cutting-edge technology, it offers a viable alternative to traditional leather that meets the demands of today’s discerning consumers. As research and development continue to push boundaries, bio-based vegan leather is set to become a staple in the fashion world, leading us to a more sustainable and compassionate future.

Join us in this exciting journey and make a statement that matters. The future of fashion is here, and it’s bio-based, vegan, and undeniably fabulous.