Designer Luca Nichetto has made his first foray into fashion accessories with the Malala handbag, produced in part from apples for vegan leather goods brand Angela Roi.
Malala is Angela Roi’s first accessory made from apple leather, a fabric created using scraps such as skins and cores from apple processing that would otherwise be wasted.
However, while Angela Roi’s website describes apple leather as “a completely plant-based alternative to real leather”, the brand clarified to Dezeen that the material is a combination of apple-derived fibers and the -a material derived from petroleum that is a common polyurethane plastic. used for vegan leather goods.
This apple-polyurethane blend is then applied to a cotton-polyester blend backing material.
According to Nichetto Studio, the fabric maintains both the feel and look of leather, and will likewise change over time, developing a softer texture and natural sheen.
“I believe, considering the economic situation, the environmental challenges and this crisis in the world, design should try to find answers in the creation of things that are permanent and sustainable,” said Nichetto.
Named after Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the bag features a distinctive design with four functional pockets built into the top opening.
The design was informed by thinking of a cabinet of curiosities or a traveler’s trunk with many compartments. At the same time, its shape refers to potato chip containers from fast food outlets, giving the bag what Nichetto Studio describes as “pop soul”.
The Malala bag is cruelty free, and no animals are involved in the production. The apple leather used for it comes from the Italian company Pelletteria Fusella, which uses apple scraps from an orchard in the South Tyrol region.
The orchard’s apples are used for products such as juice and jam and they produce around 30,000 tonnes of scraps, such as cores and cores, each year which were sent to landfill or incinerated.
According to Angela Roi, by using a combination of plant and petroleum-based materials, the brand can reduce carbon emissions from the production of polyurethane bags while also delivering the durability that high-end consumers expect.
“As it stands, petroleum based materials play a vital role in the sustainability of bio-based leather as extending the life of a product is a very important aspect of sustainability,” said brand founder Angela Lee.
“The impact potential of the material depends on brand and consumer acceptance, and the majority of consumers will not accept major quality sacrifices compared to leather. We have yet to see a completely plastic-free product that meets brand and consumer needs for softness, strength and slumber.”
Lee says Angela Roi’s aim is to constantly seek better material options and eventually use one that is 100 percent plastic-free and biodegradable as technology improves.
“Recently polyester yarns have been developed that are impregnated with enzymes that act to degrade the polyester when placed in biodegradable conditions,” said Lee.
“Chemically engineered natural fibers that act like petroleum-based fibers have also been developed. Both options are exciting and could be used as support materials in the future.”
Although many plant-based leather alternatives are now hitting the market, many still have a plastic component, especially as a coating, to ensure the kind of durability expected from consumer goods.
A similar apple leather comes from the Dutch company Beyond Leather, whose Leap fabric is made by mixing the scraps with natural rubber and using a textile backing and a thin plastic protective coating.