3D PRINTABLE LEATHER:
THE FUTURE OF FASHION
|The Chouara Tannery in Fez, Morocco (source: flickr)|
As a proud carnivore who lives in blissful and intentional ignorance about the origins of leather and the welfare of the billions of farmed animals that are eventually slaughtered for handbags, shoes and meat, the use of man-made fabrics was, in my mind, a cheap and nasty way for designers to cut costs and opt for a non-breathable, fragile substitute to real leathers. Animal leathers have always symbolised quality and durability over synthetic materials despite the waste, animal rights violations and abuse that is perpetuated with the demand for leather and meat. After watching a TED talk introducing the novel idea of printable meat and leathers using the same technology to print human organs, it seems like this revolutionary idea will be the tipping point towards future of fashion.
The creation of bio-fabricated leather by tissue engineering advocate Andras Forgacs – animal-free leather that is made from cells of animals without any slaughter – is an environmentally responsible move towards sustainable materials without the flesh waste. Imagine how the fashion industry alone could be changed if real animal leather could be printed by the roll instead of being sourced from farmed cows, sheep, ostriches and crocodiles, and this insect-bite, disease free, consistently-formed product could be the result of science labs, not abattoirs. As an industry historically known for a disdainful attitude towards animal rights and the environment, the move towards government-subsidised 3D printable leathers could signify a win-win situation for animal activists and designers alike. Creating animal-free leather products that are affordable and attractive to the ordinary consumer may be, one day, the civilised choice in a resource scarce economy.
Watch the TED talk by Andras Forgacs here: