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What to Know About Everlane’s Alt-Leather

Everlane retooled its celebrity-approved Day Market tote with a bio-fabricated textile replacing full-grain leather.

The bag sported by A-listers including Angelina Jolie and Meghan Markle will now be clad in Bio-Tex, the plant-based alt-leather born of Everlane’s collaborative research and development with newly launched materials science venture BioFabbrica. The San Francisco fashion label has been on a mission to cut carbon emissions generated by its leather supply chain, and minimize the harmful chemicals used in the tanning process.

Everlane and BioFabbrica developed a proprietary, leather-like substance free of animal hides that meets the former’s quality, durability and sustainability standards for footwear and accessories. Launching as a part of the fall line in four color ways for $225, the new Bio-Tex tote retains “the beauty and quality of Italian leather craftsmanship without the heavy footprint,” it said. Select customers will be gifted a Bio-Tex tote to try for free before the product officially launches.

Everlane will release its Bio-Tex Day Market tote this fall.
Everlane will release its Bio-Tex Day Market tote this fall. Courtesy

Biotechnology firm Modern Meadow, known for its work developing leather alternatives for the consumer goods space, along with Limonta, an Italian textile mill, came together to form BioFabbrica in October. Their mission is to create a hide made from plant oils, replacing the traditional fossil-fuel-based plastics often used to create leather alternatives. These oils are derived from non-GMO plants grown in the U.S., Canada and the E.U.

Adding to the material’s sustainable profile, BioFabbrica said Everlane’s desired product colors are primarily achieved at the molecular level, limiting the need for dyes. The tanning-free process also promotes color-fastness, preventing pigment from transferring from products to a wearer’s clothing. A fabric made from Lenzing’s viscose fibers serves as the backing for the material, offering a draping effect and the qualities and appearance of traditional leather. Everlane said its leather artisans have easily integrated Bio-Tex into the supply chain, using traditional leather-working techniques to create the new Day Market tote.

BioFabbrica said its Italian production partner uses grid-sourced renewable energy to power its operations, as well as generating its own power on-site. The production process for the product line across BioFabbrica and Everlane’s operations reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent compared to traditional leather goods manufacturing, and uses 95 percent less water.

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Everlane sustainability director Katina Boutis told Sourcing Journal that 99 percent of the brand’s greenhouse gas impact stems from Scope 3 emissions generated by third-party suppliers. Of that output, 60 percent can be attributed to material choices.

The company has started to incorporate upcycled and recycled animal-derived material alternatives into its line. In November it launched “ReLeather” footwear developed with recycled polyester and post-industrial leather scraps. Boutis said an expanded line of recycled cashmere products will arrive later this year.