Like the Real Thing: Kering Invests in a Start-Up That Makes Lab-Grown Leather - Lifestyle Asia

Climate change champion Leonardo DiCaprio also contributed to VitroLab’s $46 million funding.

As they push further into their sustainability plans, Kering has invested in lab-grown leather start-up VitroLabs

In 2020, the luxury conglomerate published its first sustainability progress report. It states that by 2050, they aim to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

READ ALSO: In With The Old: The Luxury Brands Dabbling In Reselling Pre-Loved Pieces From Past Collections

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Business of Fashion reports that Kering is among several investors—including actor and United Nations messenger of peace for climate change Leonardo DiCaprio—who contributed to the $46 million funding. 

Natural versus synthetic

Although synthetic or vegan leather is a cruelty-free approach to making the material, VitoLabs notes that its process is environmentally harmful since it uses plastic. “Alternatives are often petroleum-based, highly polluting, and lacking the beloved qualities of real leather,” stated their website

Compared to natural leather, vegan versions don’t usually age well, aren’t as breathable, and melt with fire exposure (genuine leather is naturally fire and heat resistant). To lessen the disparity, the start-up has invented a new process. 

The lab can create “billions of square feet of leather” by harmlessly retrieving cow cells. With the help of one animal, they can reproduce skin cells that regenerate indefinitely through a “specialized bioreactor.”

Positive impact

“We believe in a world where science and technology are used responsibly to provide a positive impact for business, the planet, and all living things,” Ingvar Helgason, the CEO, and co-founder of VitroLabs says. 

“We reflect on this vision as we make decisions and prioritize long-term, positive impact over short-term gains.”

Last year, Kering, which owns Gucci and Balenciaga, decided to go fur-free to address the negative impacts of fur farms. They acquired a five percent stake in Vestiaire Collective in March, a sustainable fashion resale platform. 

The luxury giant has yet to confirm if VitroLabs leather will be used in its products. However, we wouldn’t be mad at a cruelty-free, earth-friendly Gucci GG Marmont.

Banner photo from @i.helgason on Instagram.

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