DTC brand Senreve is testing soy-based leather handbags

The fashion industry is a main contributor of environmental waste. But 7- year-old Italian leather bag brand Senreve is trying to change that. Working alongside U.S. biotech company Modern Meadow and Italian textile company Limonta, Senreve is trying to cut emissions by gradually making its collection 50% vegan by 2023. 

Senreve is Modern Meadow’s first fashion collaboration and the first brand to use Modern Meadow’s plant-based Bio-Tex material, in its Vegan Terra collection. The collection, which dropped in March, has the same $445-$895 price range as Senreve’s other products. Modern Meadow extracts plant proteins from soy using its proprietary technology platform Bio-Alloy to make leather substitute material Bio-Tex. The company also partnered with Everlane in late March 2022 to make a vegan, Bio-Tex version of its classic tote bag, which is set to launch in November 2022. 

“We first introduced The Day Market Tote in 2018, and it quickly became an iconic best-seller, spotted on the arms of Angelina Jolie and Meghan Markle,” said Katina Boutis, director of sustainability at Everlane. “We knew we wanted to innovate and build on this icon in a conscious way, so for the last three years, we have collaborated with artisans and innovators to explore bio-based leather alternatives that meet our high standards for design and quality while delivering lower impact.”

Founded a couple years before Modern Meadow, Bolt Threads is also forwarding plant-based fashion materials. Instead of using soy, Bolt Threads uses fungi to create its proprietary leather-alternative material, dubbed Mylo. To date, the company has collaborated with brands including Patagonia, Adidas, Lululemon and Stella McCartney.

Modern Meadow plans to increasingly establish collaborations, teaming with brands to roll out its plant-based materials in different formats. 

“Senreve and Everlane are looking for material that’s not [only] going to be used in a capsule [collection], because they want to make an impact,” said Arshiya Lal, head of product materials at Modern Meadow. For its part, Everlane plans to release more Bio-Alloy versions of existing styles within its collection over time. 

For Senreve, the biggest advantage of using plant-based alternative leather is the adaptability of the protein Modern Meadow uses. The brand is able to use a wider range of colors with plant-based leather than traditional leather because the former dyes easier. While that allows for more creativity, which is beneficial to both brands and their consumers, cost-effectiveness in acquiring vegan leather products is where complications arise. 

“The cost of developing accessories in a new-to-market material is significantly higher than traditional leathers,” said Coral Chung, founder and CEO of Senreve.

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