MIRUM®, Vegan and Plant-Based Leather Alternative

MIRUM®, Vegan and Plant-Based Leather Alternative

22 Jan 2024

Understanding the need for alternatives to traditional leather takes us on a journey through the ethical and environmental challenges of its production. Animal-derived leather, once a common choice for durable goods like shoes and bags, now poses serious issues. From the exploitation and slaughter of animals to deforestation with all the consequences on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and worker rights concerns – the impact is far-reaching. For example, take a look at Brazilian leather land use data, a single Brazilian leather handbag may clear 1,000 square metres of biodiverse land, contributing to deforestation. Moreover, a cow skin leather bag of similar size can have a carbon footprint exceeding 100 kg and a water footprint surpassing 17,100 litres, showcasing the significant environmental toll.

In response to these challenges, the fashion industry is evolving. However, it's crucial to recognize that replacing animal-derived leather with virgin synthetic materials isn't a perfect solution either. While synthetic leather, even the more eco-friendly polyurethane variant, has a smaller carbon, water, and land footprint, it still relies on fossil fuels and poses disposal challenges. The climate crisis is exacerbated by fossil fuel extraction, and synthetic materials, being plastic-based, don't naturally biodegrade, adding to environmental concerns when these products are discarded. As we navigate the changing landscape of fashion, it's clear that we need alternatives that go beyond the limitations of both animal-derived and synthetic leathers. This brings us to the forefront of innovation – MIRUM® Fiber, a sustainable and eco-conscious choice for those seeking a genuine solution to fashion's evolving needs.

Plant-based leather material

What is MIRUM® Fiber?

Mirum is a special kind of plant-based material that can be used to make various soft products like fashion accessories, shoes, electronics, and even car items. Unlike many materials that look like leather, Mirum doesn't have any artificial or plastic parts. It can be used instead of leather or alongside it, and it's a great replacement for materials that look like leather but have plastic in them. Mirum® is made using natural plants and minerals, giving it special qualities that regular animal leather or synthetic leather can't match. Designers can use Mirum® to be more creative in their work.

The name Mirum comes from an old Latin word, "miraculum," which means something amazing. Mirum® was chosen to show that it's a special material that's different from others. It's certified to be 100% natural by the USDA. Mirum uses only natural materials, so when a bag, shoe, or belt made from Mirum is not needed anymore, it can be recycled. Mirum® is made using lots of plant material and leftover parts from farming (like Piñatex uses pineapple leaves instead of the fruit itself). This makes it efficient and can be renewed easily.

Characteristics of MIRUM®

If a brand wants it to feel different, look different, or be a certain thickness or colour, Mirum can be made that way. Different natural ingredients are mixed during a mechanical process, and a special plant-based substance is used to make it into a sheet. This is something special about Mirum compared to materials that are only partly made from plants but use plastic or oil-based substances. Mirum® is more focused on uniquely using natural ingredients. Some of the main features are:

Plant-based leather characteristics

  • Long-lasting and Durable: MIRUM® surpasses various performance metrics, demonstrating exceptional mechanical and chemical properties, including superior toughness and water resistance.
  • Highly customizable: MIRUM® is customizable, allowing it to be adjusted to meet specific aesthetic and performance requirements.
  • Scalable: Crafted from abundant plant matter and upcycled agricultural sidestreams, MIRUM® is designed to be easily scaled for production.
  • Circular Features: MIRUM® is designed to be easily recyclable, promoting a closed-loop system. It can be recycled into new MIRUM® products or returned to the earth in a sliced form, minimising environmental impact.
  • Zero Plastics: Being entirely free of plastic, MIRUM® contributes to reducing environmental plastic pollution.
  • Low Carbon Footprint: The production of MIRUM® has a minimal impact on the environment, reducing carbon footprint.
  • All-Natural Raw Materials: MIRUM® is made exclusively from natural materials, aligning with eco-friendly and sustainable practices.
  • Recycled Agricultural By-products: Utilising agricultural by-products in its production, MIRUM® minimises waste and maximises resource efficiency.
  • Upcycled Agricultural Sidestreams: MIRUM® incorporates upcycled agricultural sidestreams, demonstrating an innovative approach to material sourcing.

Advantages of MIRUM® Fiber Over Traditional Leather

This sustainable and innovative material not only boasts exceptional durability and quality but also champions environmental conservation. In this section, we delve into the advantages that set MIRUM® apart, from its eco-friendly composition with 100% natural inputs to its unique circular properties.

Why do we like MIRUM®?

  • 100% Natural Inputs: MIRUM® is made from natural materials, reducing the need for harmful synthetic substances.
  • Zero Plastics: Unlike traditional leather, MIRUM® doesn't contain any plastic, contributing to a cleaner environment.
  • Low Carbon: MIRUM® has a much lower carbon footprint compared to both animal and synthetic leather, making it eco-friendly. MIRUM’s first carbon footprint assessment found that producing one square metre of the material results in as little as 0. 84kg of carbon equivalent emissions (CO2e), with the higher end of the estimate equating to 2.1kg of CO2e.
  • Recyclable: MIRUM® can be recycled entirely, preventing waste and promoting a sustainable, circular economy.
  • Bioneutral: MIRUM® is bio-neutral, meaning it returns its nutrients to the earth safely, reducing environmental impact.
  • Sustainable: The production of MIRUM® is less resource-intensive, aligning with sustainable practices.
  • Highly Durable: MIRUM® is designed to be durable, ensuring long-lasting performance and high quality over time.
  • Resource Efficiency: MIRUM® requires fewer resources to produce compared to traditional leather and other "vegan" alternatives.
  • Low Carbon Footprint: MIRUM® emits significantly less greenhouse gases during production than both animal and synthetic leather.
  • Water Conservation: MIRUM® doesn't require water during manufacturing and dyeing, contributing to water conservation efforts.
  • Supports UN Sustainable Development Goals: MIRUM® aligns with several United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, including Clean Water, Decent Work, Economic Growth, Industry Innovation, Responsible Consumption, and Life Below Water.

Plant-based leather in fashion

Manufacturing Process of MIRUM®

MIRUM® requires fewer resources for production compared to both animal and synthetic leather. Unlike other "vegan" leather alternatives of the next generation, MIRUM® is plastic-free. According to NFW, the manufacturing process includes:

1. Ingredient selection:

MIRUM® starts by choosing the right natural ingredients to achieve the desired qualities for specific uses, like the strength and durability needed for footwear. Nature's diverse offerings, including by-products like coconut husk fibre (coir) and cork powder, are utilised with utmost stewardship. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified ingredients, sourced from managed forests, further emphasise sustainability. An essential ingredient in MIRUM® is the natural fibre welding patented plant-based curative, a chemical process that imparts durability and toughness without relying on petrochemical additives.

2. Material mixing and mechanical forming

After selecting the right ingredients, they undergo a dry-mixing and mechanical forming process to achieve the desired shape. The manufacturing process of MIRUM® is water-efficient, using only the moisture present in natural ingredients and producing zero wastewater discharge.

Plant-based leather production

3. Final steps:

In the finishing step, an optional natural fabric backer is added to the MIRUM® sheet, and a textured surface is embossed to give it its final look and feel. MIRUM® allows endless possibilities for surface embossing, serving as a canvas for creative expression. Notably, no petrochemical adhesives are used in attaching the fabric backer to MIRUM®. The fabric backer and MIRUM® are molded together, defining MIRUM® as a composite material.

Significance of MIRUM® Fibre in the Fashion World

Mirum Fiber holds profound significance in the fashion industry as it spearheads a transformative shift towards sustainability and ethical practices. Traditionally, the fashion world has been associated with resource-intensive and environmentally harmful processes. Mirum Fiber disrupts this norm by offering a highly customizable, plant-based material that aligns with the growing demand for eco-friendly alternatives. The use of this plant-based leather-like material is verastile and fashion brands are using it to produce all sorts of fashion garments. ASK Scandinavia, a fashion brand specialising in bag production is also using Mirum to produce some of their bags, alongside other sustainable materials like ECONYL®, a sustainable textile made from regenerated nylon. ASK Scandinavia offers both bio-leather handbags and sustainable tote bags from made from Mirum.

eco-friendly handbag
eco-friendly tote bag

The significance lies in Mirum Fiber's ability to address the environmental impact of fast fashion production. Unlike conventional materials, Mirum Fiber is crafted without plastic, reducing reliance on harmful synthetic components. This shift signifies a departure from the traditional linear fashion model towards a circular and regenerative approach. Mirum Fiber not only minimises resource consumption but also promotes responsible manufacturing practices. Moreover, Mirum Fiber plays a pivotal role in shaping the narrative of conscious consumerism. As awareness grows about the environmental repercussions of fast fashion, there is a notable shift in consumer preferences towards sustainable and ethically produced materials. Mirum fibre offers a viable solution by providing a renewable, low-carbon, and recyclable alternative.

Plant-based leather bags collection

agood company in collaboration with fashion brands like ASK Scandinavia, a prominent Helsinki-based brand, has chosen MIRUM® as a key material in crafting their premium women's handbags and tote bags and is influencing a positive change in the industry. This material's adoption represents a commitment to reducing the fashion industry's overall environmental footprint. As more fashion houses embrace Mirum fiber, a collective shift is underway, marking a new era where style and sustainability coexist harmoniously.

Final Thoughts on MIRUM®

As we wrap up this journey through the world of sustainable, circular fashion and MIRUM® Fiber, the question lingers: Can fashion be both stylish and kind to our planet? MIRUM® Fiber stands as a resounding "yes" to that question. In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion, MIRUM® emerges as an exhilarating game-changer, providing a genuine and sustainable alternative to both traditional leather and plastic-based vegan leathers. Its unparalleled composition and eco-conscious production process present a compelling choice for brands and consumers seeking ethical and sustainable materials. As more brands embrace MIRUM®, we anticipate a transformative shift in the fashion industry. A shift away from harmful materials, a stride towards sustainability, and a commitment to ethics.

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