Mirum: The Future of the leather industry?
As sustainability in fashion is further explored, the importance of alternatives to both animal-derived and fossil-fuel based materials is becoming more commonly used.
When it comes to animal-derived leather, there are many ethical and environmental consequences of production worth evolving beyond, even if the material is a co-product of the dairy and farming industries. Some of these consequences include the exploitation and slaughter of animals, deforestation and inefficient land use, biodiversity destruction, significant greenhouse gas emissions, tannery pollution and worker’s rights issues across the supply chain. On the other hand, synthetic leather is still a plastic product derived from fossil fuels, which extraction is the leading cause of the climate crisis, and the synthetic materials produced from them can’t naturally biodegrade, and takes up to a 1000 years to break down, emitting the toxic cocktail into landfill.
While there are plenty of plant-based leather alternatives materials out there being explored and used, some of these are only partly plant-based and still blended with synthetics, which makes the material no longer fully biodegradable.
MIRUM is a new and innovative leather-like material that is entirely free from both animal and plastic inputs. This new material is certified to be made of 100% bio-content through the USDA’s biopreferred program and only uses natural blends that ensure recyclability at the end of the product’s lifespan, whether it is as a bag, shoe, belt or car seat. Similarly to how Piñatex uses plant leaves rather than the fruit itself, MIRUM uses plant matter and ‘upcycled’ agricultural products.Depending on what the company who’s buying MIRUM wants to use this material for and the type of texture, feel, colour and thickness wanted, MIRUM will be made accordingly with slightly different inputs. So the truth about this material is that it is hard to define what it is made of as this aspect is always changing but we are optimistic that it is efficient and renewable.
A handful of brands are already working with MIRUM at the moment, with this number soon to expand, as the company has recently partnered with Veshin Factory, which ethically makes vegan bags for brands around the world.
For example, a bag made by Melina Bucher features supple black MIRUM, and is made from a blend of Forest Stewardship Certified natural rubber, natural colourants like charcoal from pine, natural fillers like clays, plant-based oils and waxes.
AllBirds’ new plant-based leather sneaker features a blend of MIRUM that also includes agricultural byproducts such as rice hulls and citrus peels. This sneaker has been officially launched on the 13th September 2022 with the name of “Plant Pacer Sneaker”.
For the sneaker brand Camper, Natural Fibre Welding, the company developing MIRUM, delivered a plant-based material made from a blend of natural materials like coconut husk, rice hull, rubber, and cork, making the product not just sustainable but also circular.
The Australian Certified B-Corp Bellroy was the first brand to release MIRUM commercially. Today, the brand offers a simple wallet, a sling bag, and will soon release another bag. They’ve also previously released phone cases, laptop sleeves and other products that are now completely sold out.
The Italian certified B Corp, Modher uses traditional techniques to craft fairly made bags. Having previously worked only with animal-derived leather, the brand designed and made a small crossbody bag made from MIRUM, which represents their first step towards a more sustainable future.
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. That’s equal to roughly the same amount of greenhouse gases required to wash and dry one load of laundry! When we talk about sustainability, the climate impact of a material is extremely important and these results have huge implications for the future of fashion. Considering MIRUM is biodegradable, as in it can decompose into compost mulch, we truly believe that this material can be the future of the leather industry, by bringing a circular system into one of the most unethical and unsustainable practices of the fashion industry.
[info sourced on voguebusiness.com, sustainably-chic.com, camper.com, vegconomist.com, davidson.weizmann.ac.il and mirum.naturalfiberwelding.com
Featured image by Irene Kredenets on Unsplash
Image 1 by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Image 2 by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash
Image 3 by Agung hendri on Unsplash]