While consumers seem in collective agreement that wearing fur is morally problematic, leather – probably because of the simple fact that we rely on it that much more, therefore it's that much harder to give up – is a different story.
Enter Modern Meadow, a Brooklyn-based start-up who are trying to bio-engineer meat in order to quell the negative environmental externalities of current meat production, and are developing an alternative to leather along the way.
According Andras Forgacs, co-founder of Modern Meadow, who spoke to Wired UK in their March 2015 print edition, "Growing skin for medical applications is not new...But the application of this type of technology to consumer materials and leather is still uncommon".
Forgacs continues, explaining that synthetic leather can be developed with specific purposes in mind, so can be grown to specific weights, shapes and thicknesses, and the production of this kind of leather will therefore produce less waste.
The process of creating this leather involves removing cells from the animal, creating collagen from these cells, spreading this collagen into thin sheets, and then allowing these sheets to mature. Technical.
Forgac expects to have have "a biofabricated leather material that we can unveil initially in high-end and limited-edition pilot applications" by 2016.
Today, using leather in fashion is considered more ethically justifiable than fur because leather is a bi-product of the meat industry. While this is often the case, particularly with cow leather, it is not always the case, as this column for the Guardian explains.
Some brands already source alternatives to animal leather for their leather-look products. Stella McCartney leads the charge in this domain: she actively sources non-leather and non-PVC alternatives that have the same luxurious and hard-wearing qualities.
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