Even before leather boots, leather jackets and leather belts came into existence, leather was widely produced and used throughout the world. Leather making is in fact an ancient craft, the oldest known leather artifact: a shoe, is 5500 years old. Leather has never gone out of fashion. But making this timeless fashion favorite comes at a huge cost.
Until tanning was discovered in the 19th century, leather making was a long and painstaking process, as converting the animal skin into something more durable is not only time-consuming but also filthy. So much so that the leather factories in 18th century London had to be shifted outside the main city because of the unbearable stench of urine, lime and dog turds, used to make the skin durable.
Today, even though the lime and urine have been replaced by other chemicals, those substances too are caustic in nature. Also, the leather industry that is highly dependent on animal skin is in a vulnerable position because the world today is becoming more and more sensitive towards the human-animal relationship.
But soon, the traditional leather market is going to have a competitor.
In Brooklyn, a team of 35 people have found a way to create real leather in about two weeks. And their process doesn't harm any animals. The US based company Modern Meadow is working towards developing a kind of leather that can be grown in the factory using biotechnology.
Yes, that’s right. Leather produced without using animal hides.
So, all you fashion savvy people who were against using leather on moral grounds, can use this new leather without feeling guilty.
Modern Meadow is a startup that has over a dozen patents and grows leather in a lab from skin cells that produce collagen, a protein found in the connective tissues of animals. That collagen turns into leather that's free of blemishes, hair and fat.
There are people who wish that the world was different or better and then there are those work hard towards bringing about those changes. Modern Meadow is one of those few people who are actually trying to make the world a better place.
Title image: proftec