Last December, our Store Manager Giulia, and Jessica, our Production Manager took a trip to Florence, Italy and visited the producer of our apple leather. They went to visit because it is important to us to see the factory and meet in person, and because we had a couple of sustainability questions. Giulia & Jessica met with our account manager Mattia Guglielmini, who showed her around the factory and explained everything about the production of the material.
Our apple leather is produced by Mabel Synthetic, who has been making vegan leather since 1978 for both the fashion industry as well as for office utilities such as book bindings. Since 2010, Mabel has been the producer of AppleSkin™, a brand new material developed and patented by the Bolzano based company Frumat, meant to serve as an alternative to animal leather.
How is it made?
The material is based on apple waste of the Italian fruit and juicing industry, which is recovered by Frumat. Frumat grinds the residuals, such as stems and peels, into a fine powder. This powder is mixed with a powder blend of polyester, PU, cotton, and viscose, necessary to give the material strength and durability. The powder is then delivered to Mabel Synthetic, where it is mixed into a liquid material. The liquid is pumped into large containers where it transforms into a solid state. After that, the solid material is pressed to get the look of a fabric, it is colored and then goes into a large oven to dry. In the final step of the production process, the inside lining is attached and the material ready to be pressed, for example with a Croco print to create our Croco effect leather. Small leftovers of the material are melted and reused for producing new batches.
Giulia asked Mabel Synthetic and Frumat many questions on the sustainability of AppleSkin™. For example, where do they get the apple waste from exactly? Do they have an overview of the other materials used and where all those materials come from? Knowing this will help us in increasing tier 3 traceability, and to communicate better on our materials. We are happy to hear that Mabel will be publishing a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that includes all this information. This study will give insights into the exact impacts that the material has on the environment. It also helps Mabel to take effective action for improving their footprint, which again will improve our footprint! Another a big step in terms of sustainability is that Mabel Synthetic and Frumat explained that they are working on replacing the polyurethane that is used as a coating to protect the bags with an organic based alternative. They are currently testing a material based on cane sugar and microalgae, and expect to launch a new material that will be 90% organic in 2022. We'll keep you posted!
Mabel Synthetic and Frumat set high sustainability standards for themselves. They are continuously improving, showing us all steps of the production process, being completely transparent. These are important values for O My Bag, so we are happy and proud to have found these partners for our alternative leather collection and curious to see what the future will bring. We'll definitely pay some more visits to their factory! This year we're adding more items to our Apple Leather Collection, such as our Beck's Bum Bag and Mark's Cardcase. You can check out the whole collection here.