Recycled leather is becoming an increasingly important consideration in the fashion industry’s sustainability efforts. As brands strive to reduce their carbon footprint, companies like Sustainable Composites are stepping in to provide innovative solutions. Based in Pennsylvania, Sustainable Composites has developed a unique chemical process that transforms leather scraps into a material called ‘enspire leather.’ This recycled leather closely resembles the original leather in terms of its look, feel, and performance.

While many fashion brands have set carbon neutral goals and committed to sustainability initiatives, recycled leather has been an area that has received less attention. Sustainable Composites aims to change that by focusing on leather for shoes and furniture, with a significant portion of their leather sourced from Wilson footballs. However, the company is now branching out into the apparel sector through a partnership with Timberland, a brand owned by VF Corporation.

Co-founded by retired scientists and former executives Frank Fox and Tom Tymon, Sustainable Composites has already raised $2.3 million in funding from 13 investment groups. The company is actively exploring future partnerships with other brands within the VF Corporation portfolio, as well as potential collaborations with luxury fashion house Gucci. Sustainable Composites’ innovative approach to recycling leather has gained traction in the industry, and the company is poised for growth in the coming years.

Unlike other alternatives that blend leather scraps with polymers, Sustainable Composites’ chemical process preserves the authenticity and workability of the leather. The company produces rolls or sheets of enspire leather, which can be used for various applications, effectively minimizing waste. By repurposing leather scraps, Sustainable Composites contributes to waste reduction and aims to establish a closed-loop system in the future.

The partnership with Timberland came about as VF Corporation sought to invest in sustainability practices and explore the use of new materials. Timberland was eager to incorporate Sustainable Composites’ recycled leather into their products, with the first release expected in early 2022. Sustainable Composites is also looking to expand into other apparel partnerships, positioning themselves as a sustainable choice for handbags and other clothing items.

While the COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges for Sustainable Composites, they were able to sustain their operations with support from the Paycheck Protection Program and local investors. Looking forward, the company plans to embark on a funding round to accelerate growth. Their focus for 2021 is on marketing initiatives and expanding their market presence. With sufficient capacity and access to raw materials, Sustainable Composites is well-prepared to meet increased demand.

The partnership between Sustainable Composites and Timberland represents an important step forward in sustainable fashion, addressing the need for recycled leather alternatives. By offering a product that closely mirrors the qualities of real leather while minimizing waste, Sustainable Composites is making a significant impact on the fashion industry’s sustainability efforts. As consumer demand for eco-friendly products continues to rise, innovative solutions like enspire leather will play a crucial role in shaping a more sustainable future for the fashion industry.

Useful links:
1. Sustainable Composites Official Website
2. Timberland Official Website