Grape leather is soft, smooth, stable, 100% sustainable and can be recycled. It is 100% vegan - no animals are harmed and no animal products are used during the production process.
Vegea, an Italian technology company, is responsible for the creation of grape leather, born out of a desire to reclaim and repurpose waste from the Italian winemaking industry. This consists of the solid remains of grapes after the pressing process is complete - grape pomace includes the skins, pulp, seeds and stems of the fruit. This mixture is combined with vegetable oil and water-based PU. From this, a suitable eco-composite (combination) material is created. The bio-based product is then coated onto organic cotton, which forms grape leather.
Grape leather was initially created in 2015 and won the H&M Innovation Award in 2017 which recognises ‘technology concepts that make the fashion industry more sustainable’.
Vegea’s grape leather alternative is said to utilise and repurpose waste materials. This sustainable method extends the purpose of grapes, thereby ensuring the winemaking process is more circular. The underlying components in the material are organic and utilises the most eco-friendly sourced polyurethane. Due to the freshness of this innovation, it has been found that the alternative is not yet biodegradable and can be hard to recycle; its useful life however can be extended through low-wash to make it long-lasting.
Moreover, the process consumes minimal water levels and the water used can be repeatedly re-used, demonstrating sustainability. Vegea have stated that their alternative material consists of 78% eco-composite organic cotton and 22% water-based PU. This is a collaboration of the grapes natural bio-oils and dried remaining grape materials. The added natural fibres of the organic cotton create the soft plant-based leather texture.
This material will eventually play a major role in the fashion industry. Grape leather feels extremely soft and has a similar structure as animal leather, but is 100% sustainable and vegan.