Newsletter No. 41 / 30 October 2020
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Six alternatives to animal leather made from plants and food waste
By Jennifer Hahn
To highlight sustainable and ethical substitutes for animal leather we’ve rounded up six materials that can rival its textural and performance qualities, from vegan pineapple leather to a leather alternative made of seafood shells.
Leather and fur have long epitomised luxury in the worlds of fashion, accessories and furniture. But recently, popular opinion has started to shift with growing awareness about the cruelty of mass livestock rearing and the number of resources consumed and carbon emitted in the process.
In response, major fashion houses including Gucci, Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Vivienne Westwood have decided to ditch fur. 2018 marked the first time the material wasn’t used by a single designer on the London Fashion Week line-up.
The response to leather has been slower, even though it involves a slew of chemicals such as formaldehyde, cyanide and chromium in the process of tanning and dyeing, which can be hazardous to both people and the environment.
According to a poll by market research company Morning Consult, more than a third of people in the UK and 23 per cent of people in the US think that leather is an inappropriate material to use in clothing.
That’s why a cohort of young, independent designers and material research startups are hoping to fast track the move away from animal leather by developing convincing alternatives that don’t resort to common polluting, petroleum-based plastics such as polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl cholride (PVC).
Below, we’ve rounded up six of these novel materials, which are hoping to give leather the boot.
Piñatex by Ananas Anam
British materials company Ananas Anam, which was set up in 2013, was among the first to come out with a plant-based leather alternative
Called Piñatex, the material makes use of fibres derived from pineapple leaves, which are sourced from a plantation in the Philippines where they would otherwise be burned or left to rot.
These fibres are then mixed with polylactic acid (PLA), a bioplastic derived from corn, before being formed into a non-woven mesh, finished and coated to create a flexible yet durable material.
While many plant-based leather alternatives are still in the prototype phase, Piñatex has already been fashioned into commercially available products by the likes of Hugo Boss and Canadian brand Native Shoes.
Tômtex by Uyen Tran
From snakeskin to crocodile hide, the Tômtex material by Vietnamese designer Uyen Tran can be embossed to replicate a menagerie’s worth of different animal leathers.
Tômtex is made from waste coffee grounds and the biopolymer chitin, which is found in the exoskeleton of crustaceans and in this case is sourced from discarded seafood shells.
Although not vegan, the flexible yet durable material makes use of the roughly eight million tonnes of shells that are thrown away by the global food industry every year.
“The world is running out of raw materials, so I want to repurpose these wastes into a new, accessible bio-material for everyday life,” Tran told Dezeen.
Palm leather by Tjeerd Veenhoven
Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven turned to plant fibre to create his vegan leather, much like Piñatex, although opting to source it from the leaves of the areca palm instead of from pineapples.
The material, which is initially brittle, is submerged in a softening solution for multiple days until it becomes pliable.
This solution consists exclusively of non-toxic ingredients that have been labelled fit for human consumption, including glycerin and water.
Veenhoven has fashioned the resulting material into everything from bags and book sleeves to shoe soles and rugs, with undulating palm leather strips attached to a woven base.
Bio-leather by Shahar LivneDiscarded animal fat and bones from a slaughterhouse are tinted and plasticised using waste blood to create Israeli designer Shahar Livne‘s bio-leather.
The material can be moulded or 3D printed and has already been integrated into a pair of trainers, designed by Livne in collaboration with German footwear brand Nat-2.
Although the material is so far only viable for use in a small, deep red panel, the designer hopes to develop the material so that it can be used to create the entire shoe.
“This bio-leather offers a new, out-of-the-box possibility that utilises animal by-products that are low in cost and pollution, and that mitigate the amount of waste created by meat-production industries,” she told Dezeen.
Mylo by Bolt Threads
Created from mycelium, the branching filament structure that mushrooms and other fungi use to grow, the material reportedly consumes substantially less water than is needed to produce animal leather while emitting fewer greenhouse gases.
Major luxury fashion houses including Stella McCartney, Adidas and Gucci parent company Kering have invested in upscaling the production of the material and are set to release the first mass-market products made from Mylo next year.
Elsewhere, Finnish studio Aivan has used a mycelium-based leather to cover the ear pads of its Korvaa headphones, which are entirely made of materials grown by live microbes.
Lino Leather by Don Kwaning
A thicker version mimics the textured, wrinkly finish of rumen leather, which is made of cattle stomach, while a thinner one approximates the soft exterior and flexibility of more commercial varieties.
“It is a material with great future potential,” Kwaning told Dezeen. “Many people don’t even know it’s made from only natural materials.”
In fact, although it resembles plastic, linoleum actually consists of linseed oil mixed with a filler such as powdered cork, which is applied to a cloth backing and left to harden. Promostyl
Rare Earth re-launches exclusively at Cape Union Mart
Rare Earth, the exclusive women’s clothing brand, will re-launch its exciting new seasonal capsule in time for summer. Rare Earth, a house brand that lived under the Poetry umbrella, has found a new home, launching exclusively at Cape Union Mart stores. The range, which includes accessories, garments and footwear, is known for being functional, technical and made for the outdoors, making Cape Union Mart the perfect fit. The new summer capsule will include three categories, namely Safari, Outdoor Active and Travel Accessories.
Buying less, but better
According to Poetry Creative Director Johan Van Der Merwe, the Rare Earth re-launch at Cape Union Mart was inspired by consumers’ shift in buying behaviour.
“Being someone who is constantly on the move, locally and internationally, I noticed the shift in people’s behaviour and how they look at their wardrobes. Gone are the days when you chased the latest fast fashion trend or disposable fashion garments.”
He continues, “ I noticed the need for a well-curated and considered collection of wardrobe essentials; products that consumers can find and wear again and again. Something that lives throughout the seasons and that is ideal for the everyday uniform. People no longer want to be paralysed by too many choices; it’s about buying less, but better.”
When speaking on the Rare Earth product attributes, Van Der Merwe notes the brand’s commitment to putting longevity first. “We choose lasting style and quality over passing trends. Every piece should have a long lifespan. We want you to wear our clothes in five years from now.”
He continues that the brand is on a pursuit for new experiences and not peak performance. “We are fully committed to the purpose and functionality of our garments. Each raw ingredient is carefully selected to protect and keep you cool and comfortable.”
Favoured during the South African summer
Featuring relaxed styles and natural fabrics, the all-new cool and comfortable SS20 collection boasts ethically sourced cotton and pure linens, making it lightweight, breathable and incredibly comfortable. Its fabrics make for a versatile and stylish wardrobe staple for all seasons but are particularly favoured during the South African summer.
Van Der Merwe continues, “Our relaxed silhouettes offered in various weights of cotton, pure linen and drapey viscose fabrics lends itself to a laid-back feel that’s ideal for the perfect summer holiday. The breathable properties of our linen keep you cool and comfortable for the weekend, while the silky feel of viscose is smooth and gentle against the skin.”
A local and more sustainable brand
Following a mass consumer movement for shoppers to invest in local and more sustainable brands, Van Der Merwe confirms Rare Earth answers to both. “Our current contribution of locally manufactured goods is 26%. We are committed to growing this contribution through investing in and our constant focus on developing our local skills and technologies.”
“No matter where you’re planning to go this summer and beyond, whether it’s a long weekend getaway or a day hike, Rare Earth has got you covered in our travel-inspired clothing, made with comfort and function in mind so that you are ready for all life’s adventures,” he concludes.
Rare Earth will be available exclusively in all Cape Union Mart stores across the country from October 16th, 2020.
TFG – updated trading statement
TFG advised shareholders that it is in the process of finalising its interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2020, which are due to be published on or about 5 November 2020.
As was announced in the Group’s trading updates on SENS on 15 May 2020, 18 June 2020, 13 July 2020 and 15 September 2020, the Group’s performance to date, has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government-enforced lockdowns and measures taken to protect citizens in each of the Group’s major territories, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia.
COVID-19 pandemic and store closures
In TFG Africa, in excess of 2 100 or c.80% of the stores re-opened from 1 May, with all 2 577 stores re-opened from the 1st week of June. While trade has steadily improved since May, it remains volatile.
In TFG London, the regional store and concession estate gradually re-opened during May and June (in the United Kingdom from 15 June), albeit with significantly lower than usual levels of footfall. The re-opening of our city centre locations was generally held back until October, as footfall in these locations has been consistently weak, with commuter and tourist traffic slow to return, especially in central London.
In TFG Australia, the re-opening of stores commenced end April and all 534 stores across Australia and New Zealand were reopened by the end of May. A strong improvement in trade – relative to April – was seen in the months of May to July, but overall trade in August and September was again negatively impacted by Government restrictions responding to the second wave which resulted in store closures in both New Zealand and Victoria. New Zealand had 17 stores closed for 2 weeks, however these have subsequently reopened. Victoria has had 84 stores closed from 2 August. These stores still remain closed and the Victoria State Government anticipates lifting the lockdown regulations at the end of October. Despite these government enforced interruptions, TFG Australia has proved extremely resilient and in July reported its highest EBITDA in history. Due to immediate actions taken by management, the business has remained significantly cash positive and has to date not accessed any of its borrowing facilities.
Further lockdowns have since been announced in certain states of Australia, as well as in the United Kingdom, which will continue to adversely impact trade performance in these countries well into the second half of 2020 calendar year.
Online turnover continues to exceed management’s expectation across all our major territories, except in the United Kingdom where online performance continues to be negatively impacted by weaker department store online channels. Online turnover from TFG London’s own sites for the six months ended September 2020 however increased marginally by 1,6% compared to the previous comparable period.
Given the strong consumer association of our UK brands with occasion and formal workwear, it is clear that a recovery in demand for our clothing and accessories will be closely linked to the timing of a return to social mixing and in-office attendance. Taking into consideration the recent tightening of COVID-19 controls in the UK and Europe, it is increasingly likely that this recovery will be slower than originally anticipated.
Whilst we are very cognisant of the current retail challenges in the UK, we do believe that our UK brands remain very strong within their specific categories and we are in the process of further reviewing our cost base and operating model for TFG London, to ensure that we are well positioned for recovery.
The Group further advises that it expects the interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2020 to fall within the following ranges:
Strong balance sheet
Interim results announcement
A live webcast of the result presentation will be broadcast at 09:00 am (SAS) on 5 November 2020. A registration link for the webcast will be available on the Company’s website at www.tfglimited.co.za. The slides for the interim results presentation will be made available on the Company’s website prior to the commencement of the webcast. A delayed version of the webcasts will be available later on the same day.
Massmart – sales update
Shareholders are referred to the Massmart Group’s interim results update released on SENS on 27 August 2020. Massmart hereby provides an update on year-to-date sales for the 9 month period ended 27 September 2020. The further easing of Covid-19 related trading restrictions marked slightly better trading conditions for the 3rd quarter of 2020. While we saw an increase in foot traffic in most of our stores, the re-introduction of a full ban on liquor sales from mid-July to mid-August had a negative impact on Massmart’s total sales. The Company estimates that this ban resulted in lost liquor sales over this period of approximately R1.1 billion when compared to the same period last year, which brings the total estimated lost sales as a result of Covid-19 sales restrictions to at least R5.7 billion, when compared to the same period last year.
Total sales for the 9 months ended 27 September 2020 amounted to R60.5 billion, representing a decrease of 8.9% on the same period last year, while comparable store sales decreased by 8.8%. Internal product inflation is estimated at 4.5%. Total sales from Massmart’s South African stores decreased by 9.4% (decreased by 8.8% on a comparable stores basis), while total sales from Massmart’s rest of Africa stores decreased by 3.8% (decreased by 5.0% on a comparable stores basis). On the back of H1 total sales decreasing by 9.7% in total, 3rd quarter sales, including the impact of the full liquor sales ban, decreased by 7.2%. This sales update information has not been reviewed or reported on by the company’s external auditors.
Rex True – further trading statement
Shareholders are referred to the trading statement released on SENS on 3 September 2020, and are further advised that Rex Trueform is now in a position to inform shareholders that:
The decrease in the Group’s earnings per share is mainly attributable to following factors:
The information on which this trading statement has been based, has not been reviewed or reported on by the Group’s auditors.
Further details of the Group’s financial position and performance will be made available in the annual financial results for the year ended 30 June 2020, which are anticipated to be released on or before 26 October 2020.
Rex True – annual financial statements notice
Shareholders are referred to the trading statement which was published on SENS on 22 October 2020 in which it was advised that the Company’s annual financial results for the year ended 30 June 2020 would be released on or before 26 October 2020.
Due to unforeseen delays experienced with regard to the external audit process, shareholders are hereby advised that the audited financial statements which were due to be published on 26 October 2020 will be released as soon as practically possible.
Did you know……..
Sign of the Times
Changes in women’s fashion often reflect attitudes about women’s place in society, as well as economic realities. In the prosperity of the Roaring ’20s when youth was idolized, “flapper” fashions often took straight, androgynous silhouettes and were covered in rhinestones—very expensive.
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