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Top 5 Vegan leather alternatives

Everything in fashion has been done already... it's not false to think that seeing trends being recycled every season. What would make a difference is the materials used. And we are on a verge of material revolution. With scientists and designers joining forces to bring new materials with new technical, ecological and social qualities that will transform what we wear. That movement is very strong in developing a perfect alternative to leather that would be animal-free but still natural and friendly for our skin. Here are my top 5 of most promising materials of the future for footwear and accessories:


One of the first and probably best known new materials is Pinatex®. Dreamt by Dr. Carmen Hijosa, the founder, and CEO of Ananas Anam Ltd. She had an ingenious idea to make ecologically and socially responsible material out of pineapple leaves fiber. It is already a byproduct of pineapple production so the raw material doesn’t require additional land, pesticides, fertilizers or water. It’s sustainable ethical and vegan-friendly non-woven textile with some resemblance to leather. It has a natural soft texture and is flexible and durable as well as water resistant. Pinatex® is available in a range of colours including metallics.

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Mushrooms have become the base for these two non-animal materials. Muskin is made of wild parasitic fungus attacking the subtropical trees. But fear not! It is non-toxic and thanks to its natural origin it prevents multiplication of bacteria which makes it an ideal material to be in contact with your skin. Muskin imitates suede texture, comes in one natural colour, and has a very rustic look to it.

Muskin™ trainers by Kristel Peters for Grado Zero Italy. image source:

Mylo™, on the other hand, is specially groomed from mycelium, the underground root structure of mushrooms. The cells are feed and grown within weeks until they form a 3D network, which later is compressed and dyed to resemble leather. And by all means, it does. It’s soft to touch but strong and abrasion resistant. Also being natural it allows for better perspiration and moisture distribution. It looks great and if Stella McCartney is using it for a special edition Falabella bag for the V&A, you can be sure it’s a top material.

Falabella bag made with Mylo™ by Stella McCartney for V&A. image source:


Another great material made of waste. Vegeatextile® lets you drink your wine and wear it! The material is made of grape marc (skins and seeds), a waste biomass obtained from the wine industry. It is turned into biopolymer which can be developed into a leather-like textile. It’s developed in different thicknesses, finishes, colours, and textures. Supported by H&M Foundation the company was able to produce a collection of clothes, bags, and shoes, designed by Tiziano Guardini, to show how truly versatile the material is.

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The first 'bioleather' grown in a Modern Meadow lab from collagen. The scientists have bio-engineered a strain of yeast that is producing collagen when fed sugar. Later the mass is tanned and dyed to resemble natural leather and also sharing its characteristics being soft, strong and flexible as well as breathable. This is a true marriage of fashion and science. Although the company started by growing a first animal-free burger…

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This is wood, which can be used for bags and shoe uppers as its soft as leather and flexible like fabric thanks to micro-incisions made by laser. Comes in various natural wood colours and with 4 different patterns. The material can be printed, engraved, quilted to your needs. What’s more, for every product sold Tree Nation is planting a new tree in Niger!

Last year Ligneah© hit the shelves in Europe when Vagabond Shoemakers used it for its iconic Paul sneakers.

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