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by Emma Sherman

The future of fashion

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret, before I turned vegan, I was a huge fan of leather. Who wouldn’t be with its valuable and unique features: its durability, its classic luxurious look and its ability to withstand water. So what if I told you that there was a new type of vegan leather on the market with all the same qualities as actual leather? A product so realistic it actually feels softer than suede and the best thing about it is that no animals were harmed in the making.

Muskin is the newest trend on the market, a leather looking product made from mushrooms. Now I am almost certain that some people will turn their noses up at the product, commenting on the fact that it is made from food. But the reality of it is, leather is skin after all, skin which was once a living being. If you carry around dead animal’s skin then really how gross is a vegetable in comparison?

The livestock industry is notoriously known for its awful effect on the environment. This new sustainable product will be completely natural and free from toxic chemicals. Mycelium (the fleshy fibrous part that makes up the base of the mushroom), which the products will be made from, produces absolutely no carbon dioxide emissions and it is also biodegradable. It can be grown in just a few weeks as opposed to the three years it takes to raise a cow.

This versatile material has so far been used to make a range of products from bags and purses to watch straps and hats, even shoe insoles. As well having the ability to absorb humidity, the material can also be tanned, using chemical free products, in order to achieve the colours which consumer’s desire. It’s a no brainer in my eyes.

So the next question is, why stop at mushrooms? Pinatex is another plant based leather alternative, this time created using pineapple leaf fibres. Leather expert Carmen Hijosa had the idea when visiting the Philippines. She started looking for alternatives, as she was unimpressed with the standard of leather goods out there.

The beauty of this creation is that it is a total waste product meaning that no agricultural components are needed to create it. Normally the leaves are left to rot on the ground after the pineapples are harvested so all these factors make this quite possibly one of the most environmentally friendly products out there.

Although the idea was born in the Philippines, the final product is being developed in the UK and Spain, which is great news for us Brits that want to get our hands on the finished product.

There are future plans to expand the uses of Pinatex and even the idea to use it for home insulation has been thrown around.

The cost of Pinatex is also a lot cheaper than that of leather. Currently priced at approximately £18 per square metre in comparison to the £20 – £30 per square metre that leather costs, financially it is also the better option. According to Carmen Hijosa; “we have the advantage that our waste is about 5% whereas leather’s waste is about 25% so there is a price to pay for waste as well.”

So if, like me, you are vegan or a person who’s just concerned about the future of our planet then these products are certainly the way to go. With absolutely no effect on our planet, a faster rate of production than leather and not to mention the potential to become one of the most popular luxury materials out there, these alternative materials certainly seem like the future.