Apple Leather: Your questions answered.

Apple Leather: Your questions answered.

July 4, 2021
By Jessica Kruger
Founder, LUXTRA

 

There are many wild and wonderful new vegan "leather" alternatives emerging onto the market. One of the best known is apple "leather" . 
But what exactly is apple leather? How is it made? How eco-friendly is it? How does it stand the test of time and of course… the two most commonly asked questions we receive: can you eat it, and it disintegrate in the rain?
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LUXTRA AppleSkin backpack

Made from apples, you say? LUXTRA's AppleSkin backpack

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Introducing AppleSkin™

Many companies around the world are developing innovative new alternative leathers from a variety of plant-based raw materials. A few among them have selected to work with apples - the best known is FRUMAT.

FRUMAT produces AppleSkin™ and this is the material with which LUXTRA works. The company is based in Bolzano, in the north of Italy and is the brainchild of Hannes Parth. He’s done a TED talk, but you’ll need to get your Italian friend to translate. 

 

Hannes Parth Frumat founder

Hannes Parth, FRUMAT founder, during his TED talk. You’ll need to find an Italian friend to translate.

 

What is AppleSkin™?

It’s a leather-alternative material that’s partly made from apple mush. This mush is what’s left over from squeezing apples in the fruit juice industry. AppleSkin is available in various colours and finishes.

How is it made?

This mushy pulp is left over as a result of juicing apples on an industrial scale (for juice or jam). Technically the mush is load of cellulose fibres. Rather than discarding the mush, FRUMAT recovers it, dries it naturally and then turns it into a powder. I’m afraid the next step in the process is a trade secret. I mean I’ve tried to sweet talk them into divulging a little more, but their lips are sealed. 

The powder is then mixed with Polyurethane (PU). The powdered apple is effectively "padding out" the amount of PU – a virgin material – so that less of it is required to make the material. This means fewer natural resources are extracted from the planet, and that there are lower emissions and energy consumption across the supply chain.

How eco-friendly is it?

Following on from the above, it’s true that AppleSkin is made in part from Polyurethane – a plastic. On the other hand, choosing to use leather involves animal agriculture and thus a vast array of environmental negatives (land clearing, methane, use of antibiotics in livestock) not to mention the animal cruelty aspect, which for LUXTRA is strictly a no-go. So whilst AppleSkin is not perfect, for LUXTRA it is by far the better choice.

The HIGG sustainability index – a way of measuring a value chain’s sustainability – ranks cow leather at 161 vs polyurethane at 59. The higher the measure, the worse the material is for the environment. The index is not perfect, but it does provide us with a starting point for evaluating sustainability claims across materials.

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HIGG sustainability index

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How does it stand the test of time?

In the textile industry, one of the main measurements for durability is the Martindale “rub test”. It's an abrasion test that counts how many rubs a material can withstand before signs of wear start to show.

Here is a short video to help you visualise the process.

 

Martindale Abrasion Test

An example of the abrasive disc used in the Martindale Rub.

The Martindale test works by rubbing an abrasive disc against a material, counting the number of oscillations until the material is damaged. To provide some context for this score, industry guidance is as follows:
  • Private use: 10,000 - 15,000 rubs
  • Office use: 25,000-35,000 rubs
  • Public transport: 30,000 - 40,000 rubs

Our AppleSkin materials have martindale test scores of >50,000 rubs. You can see this highlighted in the technical data sheet here (look for "Abrasione" about half way down on the left)

With a result of more than 50,000 rubs AppleSkin is considered a highly durable material and we're therefore pretty confident that our materials will stand the test of time and certainly measure up to their real-leather counterparts.

Does it disintegrate in the rain?

Happily not!

Can I eat it?

Please don't!

What colours and textures does it come in?

There are many colours and textures available. Some are in stock, some require an order of 150 or 300 linear meters. Our personal favourites are the pink and dark green AppleSkin, which are smooth, robust and simply sew really well. Bliss!

Where can I buy it?

LUXTRA purchases AppleSkin directly from the company that manufactures the material on behalf of FRUMAT. This company is called MABEL – they’re based in Florence. Their website contains the most up to date details for contacting them.

 

Any other questions you would like us to address about AppleSkin (or any other materials?) – please drop me a line at hello@luxtralondon.com and I’d be delighted to discuss further. 

 

Interested in seeing just what you can make from this incredible material? 

Head over to LUXTRA's AppleSkin collection, here

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