As the challenges of climate change become increasingly urgent, it is paramount that we find humane, sustainable solutions for consumer goods production. Luxury brands like Hermès and Stella McCartney are experimenting with mycelium, a potentially game-changing mushroom-based leather alternative. Now, Gucci has just announced its own exclusive leather-like material, a green technological breakthrough that, they say, will meet the needs of our “evolving future.”
The material is called Demetra, reported WWD. It is composed of “77 percent plant-based raw materials,” including “bio-based polyurethane,” viscose, and sustainably-sourced wood compounds. Gucci spent two years perfecting the material, and has filed for patents and trademarks, ensuring that, for now, Demetra will only be used to craft their own in-house products. This makes sense, given that the material is produced using Gucci’s own leather tanning procedures, offering customers a markedly similar leather experience in terms of aesthetics, suppleness, and resistance to the elements. Though, the company is open to letting other labels use the material in the future.
Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s CEO and president, told WWD that “Demetra is a new category of material that encapsulates Gucci’s quality and aesthetic standards with our desire to innovate, leveraging our traditional skills and know-how to create for an evolving future.”
In terms of sustainability, that last point is particularly crucial. Leather production comes with issues of animal cruelty, and livestock farming is a notorious source of greenhouse gases — up to 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from agriculture, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Calls for fashion to transition away from leather have not yet been as successful as fur-free initiatives, though Gucci intends to scale Demetra’s use into its clothing, handbags, and more.
To kick off the announcement, Gucci is offering three new men’s and women’s sneaker models made from Demetra: the Rhyton, Basket, and New Ace. The shoes are available now in the brand’s retail stores and online.