Fashion Companies Are Trying On Sustainable, Lab-Made Materials for Size


These days, it’s chic to be sustainable—just ask celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Billie Eilish, who have publicly embraced accoutrements fashioned from materials like faux fur and vegan leather.

Big brands such as Lululemon and H&M are investing in startups that are developing alternative materials that they hope will cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of deforestation.

This week, we take a closer look at five innovative materials that you might soon see in fashion.

“There’s no need to remove any hair, do any shaving. It has the nobility of leather.”
— Ingvar Helgason, CEO and co-founder of VitroLabs, a maker of faux leather
One startup, Inversa Leathers, says it is using the skin of the lionfish—an invasive species—to create materials used in footwear and other items. Rubi Laboratories says it is developing a way to create yarn out of carbon emissions. VitroLabs is growing leather hides from cow cells taken via biopsy. Brooklyn-based startup TômTex is also developing leather alternatives using cheap and plentiful seafood-shell waste. Japan-based Spiber is brewing silk-like fibers in a fermentation process.

Some of these companies plan to sell their products at premium prices on par with the animal products they aim to replace, while others are targeting lower prices to attract new shoppers.

🤔 Would you wear clothes made from alternative materials? Why or why not? Send me your thoughts, questions and predictions by hitting “reply” to this email.

More on this topic:

  • What is vegan leather, anyway? (Read)
  • These sweatshirts are trash. (Read)
  • Why no one wants grandma’s fur coat. (Read)
  • 📸 Inside the crocodile supply chain, from skin to handbag. (Photos)
  • Diane von Furstenberg’s take on where fashion will be in 2030. (Read)