Nanocellulose is made from a network of cellulose fibres, with several layers bonded together to form a durable fabric that is flexible and resists tearing. To transform it into leather, the nanocellulose is coloured with algae-based dye, coated with plant-based biopolymers, and backed with cotton canvas.
According to Bucha Bio, the fabric has all the same properties as animal leather and is much more sustainable — it’s even fully biodegradable. The leather can also be customised to have a range of colours and textures.
Growing biomaterials at scale used to be a time-consuming process, but Bucha Bio is able to do it in just 22 days. Many companies have previously attempted to make textiles from bacterial nanocellulose, but Bucha says it is the first to do it successfully.
Now, the company has begun partnering with brands in various industries to help them develop animal-free versions of their products. Recently, it has collaborated with London-based custom designer Frecustoms to recreate two of the brand’s iconic sneaker designs.
The vegan leather industry is growing rapidly, projected to be worth $89.6 billion by 2025. This growth has recently prompted backlash from the conventional leather industry, which has claimed leather alternatives are unsustainable due to their use of plastics. But Bucha Bio is one of an increasing number of companies proving that vegan leather production doesn’t have to rely on fossil fuels.
“Our team of scientists and designers are incredibly devoted to this mission, and we’re proud to finally be able to release the first of many biomaterial–based applications,” said Zimri Hinshaw, Founder and CEO of Bucha Bio. “We’re collaborating closely with major brands and prototyping products from footwear to luxury automotive interiors.”