Sunday, March 3, 2024

Stella McCartney and Veuve Clicquot Make Vegan Leather From Champagne Waste

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Stella McCartney and Veuve Clicquot, both brands under the LVMH umbrella, are transforming grape stems and cork waste from Champagne production into vegan leather.

McCartney’s recent spring 2024 show at Paris Fashion Week, set in an open-air street market style, showcased the eco-friendly materials in a selection of bags, with the full collection expected to hit stores in March.

The new Champagne leather is part of a broader initiative by LVMH to incorporate sustainable practices into its products. McCartney, serving as the sustainability adviser to LVMH’s founder, Bernard Arnault, has been at the forefront of this push. Her collaboration with Veuve Clicquot has led to the creation of the Frayme bag and Elyse sandals — both made from grape waste and recycled cork from Veuve Clicquot’s cellars in Reims, France.

The grape material, developed in less than 18 months, is a response to the significant greenhouse gas emissions from both leather production and winemaking. Sourced with full traceability from the environmentally-certified Grand Cru vineyard of Bouzy in Champagne, this initiative marks a significant step in sustainable fashion.

Stella McCartney x Veuve Cliquot
Stella McCartney x Veuve Clicquot’s grape leather | Courtesy

Jean-Marc Gallot, CEO of Veuve Clicquot, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, highlighting the brand’s expertise in regenerative agriculture and its contribution to a brighter future in fashion. He emphasized the collaborative effort and the brand’s long-term commitment to sustainable practices.

“It fills me with joy, that beyond crafting one of the best Champagnes, our grapes can now also contribute to drive a brighter future in fashion,” Gallot said.

McCartney was drawn to the alignment in values between her brand and Veuve Clicquot, noting the historic commitment of the Champagne house to sustainable and circular methods.

“I’d been looking at cross-industry collaboration within the group, and one day I said to Mr. Arnault, ‘You know I’m putting bags down my runway made from grape skin waste from the Italian wine industry. Give me one of your brands and let me use that waste,’” McCartney said.

Veuve Clicquot makes grape leather
Veuve Clicquot | Courtesy

The grape material, according to McCartney, is indistinguishable from real leather in look, feel, and durability. She sees this as an opportunity to challenge an industry reliant on a limited range of traditional materials. Additionally, working with cork waste, praised for its sustainability, adds another dimension to her environmental efforts.

Both McCartney and Gallot emphasized the use of regenerative practices in growing the Veuve grapes, which contributes to restoring local biodiversity and soil health, as well as sequestering carbon. Veuve Clicquot’s exploration into next-generation materials extends to packaging, with the brand creating packaging from vegetal waste and using hemp for its gift boxes.

LVMH has pushed its spirits division to be more sustainable in recent years. In 2021, Moët Hennessy announced the development of a €20 million research center for its wines and spirits division.

McCartney has been promoting regenerative agriculture in fashion for years — including alternative leathers. She was among the first to showcase the potential of mushroom leather in a partnership with Bolt Threads. The designer has also supported a regenerative cotton project in Turkey in partnership with LVMH.

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