Friday, December 9, 2022

Ganni Backs Bolt Threads’ Effort to Make Sustainable Leather the New Industry Standard

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Ganni and Bolt Threads kick off a new effort aimed at getting brands to swap conventional leather for vegan mycelium leather instead.

As part of its commitment to becoming a sustainability leader, Danish luxury fashion label Ganni has backed Bolt Threads, the California-based materials startup focused on mycelium leather.

The new initiative, dubbed the Greener Pastures Pledge, will fast-track brands to Bolt’s Mylo mycelium leather if they pledge to shift away from conventional animal-based leather.

Last year, Ganni pledged to phase out leather and lambskin, despite the items being top sellers—products with leather or lambskin made up nearly ten percent of its sales. “Selling leather products, although highly profitable, will soon be as outdated as smoking on TV,” Ganni founder Nicolaj Reffstrup said in a statement.

sustainable leather
Courtesy Bolt Threads

Reffstrup says that if the label wants to reach its 50 percent absolute carbon reduction target by 2027, replacing animal leather is essential. “It’s our job to source and invest in low-carbon solutions, like Mylo, that aren’t just at par with traditional product offerings but exceed them,” he says. “For that to happen, brands need to place bets and take risks.“

Ganni has made a number of shifts to its label in recent years, pushing boundaries with new materials including a yarn made from banana agricultural waste and another material from upcycled cotton. Its recent collection was its most sustainable to date. The company also earned its B Corp certification for its efforts across the board to support a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry.

“We don’t identify as a sustainable brand,” the company says on its website, “we’re focused on becoming the most responsible version of ourselves. Committed to making better choices every day across the business to minimize our social and environmental impact. We see this as our moral obligation.”

Greener Pastures Pledge

The new Greener Pastures Pledge builds on Ganni’s existing relationship with Bolt Threads following the launch of a mushroom leather wallet earlier this year. Bolt has worked with a number of other labels, including Adidas, Kering, Lululemon, and Stella McCartney on its mycelium products.

“Our goal with Mylo is to give designers, brands, and customers a choice for an animal-free alternative to traditional leather that doesn’t sacrifice on quality or aesthetics. GANNI will be instrumental in making desirable products made with Mylo accessible to more people,” Dan Widmaier, CEO and Founder of Bolt Threads, said in a statement.

ganni mylo wallet
Ganni’s wallet made from mushroom leather | Courtesy

Bolt says there’s so much demand for its products that the initiative prioritizes brands committed to moving toward sustainable leather alternatives. Leather, a co-product of the meat and dairy industries, is a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and a driver of deforestation. A new report published last month found deforestation pledges made by multinational companies over the last several decades have failed to thwart deforestation in the Amazon.

The initiative aims to shift brands away from any animal leather such as trim often used alongside sustainable alternatives. Bolt says that keeps demand for conventional leather high. It hasn’t ruled out working with brands that don’t take the pledge, but with demand on the increase, it could make it more difficult for companies to access the materials without joining the initiative.

“Since this process takes time, there is no timeframe requirement to be met — only the true intention and public commitment to phasing out or eliminating virgin leather from their supply chain,” Widmaier said.

“We are actively in the process of scaling up our Mylo material, including moving into our commercial facility in the Netherlands that will have the capacity to produce millions of square feet in the coming years. While we can’t confirm the number of brands we could supply material for at this time, one of the great perks of the pledge is to gain preferential access to Mylo material despite the current high demand,’ he said.

hermes victoria bag
The Hermès Victoria Voyage made from mushroom leather

Brands do have options when it comes to vegan leather, but mushroom has become the preferred material for luxury brands. There are options within the space including San Francisco-based MycoWorks, which partnered with Hermès on its yet-to-launch travel bag made with mycelium. New York’s Ecovative has relationships with PVH Group brands Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein as well as British materials company Pangaia, among others. Late last month, Balenciaga debuted a €9,000 coat made with vegan mushroom leather from Sqim.

Despite the alternatives, demand for conventional leather continues to rise. Recent data from Statista found the luxury leather goods market will grow at a CAGR of more than six percent through 2027. The U.S. market leads the category with more than $17 billion in sales expected this year out of the total global $66 billion market.

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