Imagine combining Italy’s two most successful industries, wine and leather, into one single product. The last thing you’d think of is making one from the other. Like making wine from leather. Ridiculous! Or making leather from wine. Ridi – wait, what?
Yep. Italian research center, Vegea, is actually making leather from wine!
Vegea was established in Milan in 2014 by architect Gianpiero Tessitore, when he developed and patented his “vegeatextile” WineLeather. This technology is focused on producing biobased textiles from wine industry biomass, or in English, he’s using grape skins, stalks, and seeds left behind during wine production to make the vegan leather WineLeather. Expectedly, the fashion industry was the very first to take note of this project and acknowledge it.
With the support of the H&M Foundation and under the direction of Italian ecodesigner Tiziano Guardini, Vegea designed its first prototype fashion line, including dresses, handbags and shoes to show the great potential and versatility of the material. The company is also developing leathers of different weight, thickness, elasticity, finishing, and texture, as they aim to expand WineLeather’s potential uses to other industries, like furniture and automobiles.
Today, WineLeather is finding global support. On March 1st, 2018, Vegea received EU funding for its research. It also entered the Horizon 2020 program, SME Instrument phase II, which now supports its R&D activities. Aside from that, Vegea won more than 12 international prizes and awards, including first prize H&M Global Change Award 2017, first prize PETA Fashion Innovation Award 2017 for sustainable fashion, and the EU TOP 50 competition as one of the top 50 innovations of the new millennium.
With this innovative technology, Vegea aims to repurpose the byproducts of 26 billion liters of wine made worldwide every year, to make 7 billion kilos of grape “marc” (the solid remains of grapes from winemaking), and transform them into 3 billion square meters of WineLeather every year.
Take 3 minutes to watch this trailer of their Sustainable Fashion line. Everything is gorgeous from the location to the items!
But wine isn’t the only raw material used to make vegan leather! Other companies around the world have developed similar technologies. There’s Green Banana Paper making leather from – you guessed it – bananas; Piñatex making leather from pineapples; and, my personal favorite, MycoWorks making leather from mushrooms.
Are you an artisan business with an eco-friendly mission?
Are you a small, local, hip producer striving to make a statement?
Those of you who know me off-blog know that I’m a crazy animal lover, a bit of a hippie, a big supporter of buying local, and quite the activist for sustainability and nature protection. So don’t hesitate to contact me and we’ll work together!
And finally, thanks to my fellow wine blogger, Fouad Hayek of Minn Wine la Wine, for sharing an article that inspired me to write this blog post!