Conscious Consumerism

Incognito: Pleasure Leather

fashion, ecofriendly, sustainableNick OgdenComment

This month I will be focusing on companies that do a great job of doing business in a sustainable way. The companies that I will be focusing on primarily will be ones that are either a little out of most peoples daily thoughts, like last weeks discussion on Interface, or companies that people have heard of much yet that I think should be praised frequently. With this in mind, today's topic is "Pleasure Leather". I know what you're thinking: "Jeepers Jug-head, is Nick going to talk about BDSM and leather toys?"... The answer, "No." I am not the guy to discuss that world, if you would like to know more go check out Red Hot Suz, she got you! Our conversation will be more towards the plant-based leather movement that is quickly picking up ground with manufacturers. 

If you are looking for some ecofriendly, fun time, gorgeous leather goods keep reading. If the tittle tricked you and you want to go check out some discussions around the other realm of leather pleasure go check out The Red Hot Suz. I would like to bring to the table an idea that leather doesn't have to be made from animal hides anymore, which is a really dirty and environmentally destructive process. Today, we are not going to focus on the doom and gloom of an industry but highlight a couple cool companies that are using this new fabric to create durable, ecofriendly, sustainable, and beautiful pieces of clothing.

Matt and Nat is a great place to start. Matt and Nat started in Montreal, 1995, creating pieces that to this day are highly sought after and loved by anyone who has one of their pieces. If you are in Canada and struggle to find Canadian apparel and clothing companies you are not alone. Here in the great white north we have had a very limited selection of homegrown companies to choose from and support. This, however, is changing! Matt and Nat have a simple name with a hugely powerful meaning. 

Being inspired by MAT(T)erial and NATure means exploring the synergy between the two, the reflection of one on the other.

Having a company who's foundation is focused on the parallel reality of manufacturing and nature is fundamentally important when trying to create stunning conscious pieces of clothing and accessories. This includes guaranteeing that since their inception they manufacture their leathers from non-animal hides, sourcing plant-based materials instead. Starting in 2007 they have committed themselves to create linings for their goods out of 100% recycled plastic bottles. Matt and Nat were and seriously are a pioneer in the clothing and accessorizing world. The mainstream fashion world was relatively slow to pick-up on this innovation; in 2013 traction started and the buzz around plant-based leathers started to stir. A guy by the name of Richard Wool really kicked this conversation into high gear. 

Richard Wool is a professor of chemical and bimolecular engineering at the University of Delaware who has really taken it upon himself to further research plant-based materials. He realized that the world's dependency on oil and petroleum derived products is quickly going to come to an end so he headed a team to figure out how to synthesize these materials using plant derived compounds. This is big news not only for plastic based materials but also for animal and petroleum based materials. The fashion industry will be revolutionized when the sourcing of materials isn't focused on where it was produced but more so how. It will take leaders like Matt and Nat to prove to the wider fashion industry that sustainable is possible. Shifting leather production from animal to plant based materials isn't just good for the environment, it is good for human health.

Countless studies have shown the toxicity in the tanning and production process to be detrimental to human health. Creating a demand for more sustainably sourced and ethically made clothing and accessories is a surefire way to shift the industries dependancy of animal leathers. Understanding the supply chain of the goods we consume is key to fully understanding the impact our buying habits have. Companies like Matt and Nat prove that we can still receive the high quality materials that we demand to invest in while sourcing sustainably. Matt and Nat are one of the shining lights in the plant-based leather world but there are so many others to explore. One other example I would like to highlight is Pinatex, who use pineapple waste to manufacture plant-based materials. Their pieces are simple and iconic but utilize waste material turned into beautiful fabrics as oppose to harmful petroleum or animal fabrics. 

If there is one message I would hope that you take away from this discussion it is this: we as consumers have tremendous power to shift industries, what companies we support and buy from clearly show what we demand from a market and can undoubtably show that we demand innovation and new ideas around our goods. This is not a new thought that I hope you take away, I have wrote it many times in my posts and many other people discussion this as well. You are powerful and extremely influential, use your power for good and support brands that are trying to do good by the planet. Browse around Matt and Nat's catalogue and see what they have to offer, compare them to other retailers, I can pretty well assure you that you wont be disappointed.