Danish fashion house Ganni is building a name for itself as a leader in sustainable luxury. Its latest move: ditching all leather and skins.
“Selling leather products, although highly profitable, will soon be as outdated as smoking on TV,” Ganni founder Nicolaj Reffstrup said in a statmement.
The brand cites its lambskin collections as its highest priced and most profitable categories, but will be replacing that as well as other leather products by 2023.
“We’re phasing out leather completely by 2023, as it conflicts with our efforts to minimise our impact due to high levels of methane emissions from the livestock,” Reffstrup said. “Introducing Vegea, a plant-based alternative made from agricultural waste, is a step in the direction towards more responsible collection.”
The Danish label partnered with an Italian manufacturer, Vegea, to produce the vegan leather for eight pairs of shoes in the label’s SS22 collection. Vegea makes its vegan leather from grape skin.
The move comes after Ganni made efforts before, citing difficulty sourcing quality alternatives to conventional leather. It also wanted to avoid products based in plastic or other unsustainable materials. It cites Vegea’s quality and craftsmanship as ideal.
The leather is made from grape skins leftover from winemaking. It’s combined with plant-based oils and natural agricultural fibers. Not only does this serve as a substitute to animal skins, but it also creates additional revenue stream for farmers and keeps these materials from ending up in landfills.
The vegan leather is also safer than skins, which use toxic chemicals in the tanning process that can pollute waterways and threaten the health of workers. The vegan leather is 55 percent bio-compound and 45 percent water-based polyurethane.
Vegan leather in luxury fashion
Other luxury fashion houses are starting to embrace alternatives to animal leather. Karl Lagerfeld released a range of items designed by Amber Valletta that rely on cactus leather instead of animals. The former model signed on to head up Lagerfeld’s sustainability initiatives. Replacing leather comes in the wake of the brand once synonymous with fur, announcing it was discontinuing all fur in 2019.
Valletta will helm a “holistic view” of the brand’s sustainability initiatives and work with design director Hun Kim on future collections.
Bottega Veneta launched vegan leather bags nearly a decade ago, embracing the more sustainable alternative. “I decided to make the jersey and paper bags after speaking with customers who wanted sophisticated, handcrafted bags that are non-leather and earth-friendly,” former creative director Tomas Maier said of the collection.
Other labels including Chloé, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Prada, and Gucci, have all introduced alternatives to leather.
Earlier this year Hermès announced it was introducing vegan mushroom leather in its popular Victoria travel bag. The bag is expected to hit the market this year.
The movement to more sustainable materials, including vegan leather, has been championed by Stella McCartney. The label has led the way with creative partnerships with Adidas on its iconic Stan Smith shoes, as well as the label’s own shoe and bag designs.
Earlier this month, McCartney sent the first vegan mushroom leather handbag, a modified version of her Frayme design, down the Paris Fashion Week runway. That bag will be available in a limited edition run. Mushroom leather, while more expensive than other vegan leather options, is poised to revolutionize the luxury leather market. Both Hermès and McCartney have praised its flexibility and similarity to animal leather.
Ganni’s circular efforts
Ganni recently partnered with French resale platform Vestiaire Collective on a revival of the brand’s #Scandigirl collection. The partnership released the collection under the name “Old + New = Now.”
Secondhand fashion is taking the luxury category by storm with platforms like Net-a-Porter launching resale options as Vestiaire and others like The RealReal see sales spike.
Brands are also opening up “vaults” like the Ganni collection, bringing old collections out of storage and giving them new life.
“I have always loved vintage,” Reffstrup said. “It ensures clothes are loved forever, gives everyone freedom to express their own style, and enables reinvention of our wardrobes in a circular way.”
“I love seeing how my friends and the cool Copenhagen girls in each video style up newer Ganni pieces with pre-loved. Adding their own personality makes everything look individual and unique.”
The new vegan leather shoes roll out as part of Ganni’s Spring/Summer 2022 collections, and all animal leather will be phased out from the rest of the lines by 2023.