We are proud to work with the most innovative and pioneering cruelty-free materials available on the market.
We exclusively choose materials that have ecological or plant-based characteristics.
AppleSkin™ is the name of a bio-based leather alternative. It is an innovative new material that is made with waste recovered from the fruit juice industry.
Made in Italy from apples grown in Bolzano, a city in the north of the country, the material is approximately 20-30% apple. It is vegan and cruelty-free.
HOW IT'S MADE
A mushy pulp (made up of cellulose fibres) is left over as a result of juicing apples on an industrial scale. The AppleSkin materialis produced by recovering this waste product, that would otherwise be discarded, and transforming it into the final material.
The precise process is a trade secret, but we do know that the cellulose iseffectively "padding out" the amount of virgin materials required to create AppleSkin. Fewer virgin materials equates to fewer natural resources being extracted from the planet, lower emissions and lower energy consumption across the entire supply chain.
The process is patented by FRUMAT, the company that has developed AppleSkin.
WHY WE USE IT
AppleSkin is an attractive, versatile and high performance material that upcycles waste material - always a plus in our eyes.
It's manufactured in Florence, Italy a mere 6 kilometres from the workshops that create our products, helping to minimise our carbon footprint.
We also love that FRUMAT's target for the future is a 100% circular product. They, like LUXTRA, are at the start of their journey towards true sustainability. The road is long but it's a great first step.
Piñatex®is an innovative material made from waste pineapple leaf fibre, a by-product of existing agriculture. The material is natural, sustainably-sourced and cruelty free.
HOW IT'S MADE
As the second most consumed fruit in the world, pineapples are harvested by chopping the fruit from its base of leaves. Typically those leaves have no value and are burned or left to break down.
Instead, Ananas Anam, the company that creates Piñatex, pays pineapple farmers in the Philippines for the leaves, generating an additional source of income for these farming communities. The fibres are extracted from the leaves through a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by the farming community.
The fibres then undergo an industrial process to become a non-woven textile, which is the base of the material. The final step is finishing the fabric which is done by a company in Spain.The Piñatex website naturally provides much more detail.
WHY WE USE IT
Let us count the ways we love Piñatex... The material is unique and very versatile, so it makes for show stopping products. Indeed, the silver Piñatex Nina handbag is secretly our founder's favourite piece in the entire LUXTRA collection.
Any material that makes use of something that would otherwise go to waste is a winner in our eyes - and Piñatex does precisely that.
We love the win-win for the farming communities, who are able to boost their income by selling something that was previously seen as useless.
The company behind Piñatex, Ananas Anam, has recently become a B Corporation, which is further proof of their ethics and mission to balance purpose with profit.
We're huge fans of Dr. Carmen Hijosa - the woman who created Piñatex. We gain energy from her passion, strong ethical compass and perseverance.
The new kid on the block in the vegan-leather world is "Desserto" - an innovative, cruelty-free textile made in Mexico from organic cactus leaves.
The material is smooth and flexible, comes in a great variety of colours and is made without toxic chemicals, phthalates or PVC.
HOW IT'S MADE
The Nopal cactus that is used to make Desserto is grown on a ranch in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. Mature cactus leaves are harvested every 6-8 months in accordance with the cactus' growth cycles. No irrigation is required as the plants are self-sustaining.
The harvested leaves are left to dry under the sun for three days, after which they are processed in to a powder, mixed with non-toxic binding materials, coloured and shaped into the final Desserto material.
The ranch on which the cacti grow is fully organic, so no pesticides or herbicides are used. Happily the thorns of the nopal cactus are very small, making it easy and safe for the agricultural team to harvest the leaves.
WHY WE USE IT
We love the story of Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez - the two innovators who created Desserto. They spent two years developing the innovative material after seeing the environmental devastation caused by the fashion, automotive and furniture industries in which they previously worked.
The material itself ticks many boxes: it's organic, uses an indigenous and renewable raw material, it saves huge amounts of water because the plants do not require irrigation, it is partly biodegradable and the company operates according to responsible harvesting principles. What's not to love?!
Furthermore, the production process is free from all the nasty chemicals typically found in traditional faux-leathers and the company is already adding a recycled backing to make the material even more eco-friendly.
The latest addition to our growing stable of materials is bio-based e-ULTRA.
It's a soft and smooth leather-alternative made from polyurethane (PU). Traditional PU is made from raw materials derived from petroleum. The PU base of e-ULTRA however comesfrom renewable resources - specifically the non-edible part of corn.
The material is recyclable,made without the use of harmful solventsand is fully REACH compliant (an EU regulation protecting human health and the environment).
HOW IT'S MADE
Bio-based polyurethane pellets are heated and then extruded, i.e. forced through a die. During the extrusion process, pigments are added to give the material the desired colour. The material then passes through a set of heated rollers, then on to a cooling cylinder which smoothens and sets the surface of the material. Great care is taken to source all raw materials from qualified and certified suppliers.
WHY WE USE IT
We've chosen to use e-ULTRA because it is an appealing, durable and high performance material that has a very high bio-content (69%). Fiscatech, the Italian company that manufactures e-ULTRA, is investing heavily in research and development to expand its range of eco-friendly materials. Another plus is that Fiscatech usesclean energy from photo-voltaic installations, further reducing the materials' CO2 footprint.
Made in the Netherlands by a company called Fruitleather Rotterdam, the utterly unique mango material transforms left over fruit into a durable, leather-like textile.
The founders, Hugo and Koen, put it best: "The two worlds of fruit and leather are combined where the waste of the fruit industry is used to radically change the world of the polluting leather industry."
HOW IT'S MADE
Whilst Hugo and Koen won't reveal their secret sauce, we understand the process involves the following stages:
- Sourcing surplus mangoes from markets in the Netherlands;
- De-seeding and pulping the fruit;
- Mixing the pulp with a binder;
- Pouring the mix out in to large trays and then screeding the surface for a smooth finish.
The final steps involve drying the material and adding top coats of colour, waterproofing and embossments according to customer requests.
WHY WE USE IT
Any waste material that is "upcycled" and given a new lease of life is a winner in our eyes - and this mango material does precisely that. It has a very high fruit content (approximately to 80%)and no plastic is involved, making it a hugely innovative product in the world of leather alternatives.
We also love working with Hugo and Koen. They are fun, hard working and we share the same vision for a kinder world. What's more, their atelier is located in aconverted water theme park in Rotterdam, making for very memorable meetings.
LUXTRA produces limited edition mango collections and we do not have any items left at the moment. They were so popular amongst our fans, we definitely recommend this material.
The linings we use in our products are selected to provide the best balance between longevity and environmental imperatives.
We use a range of organic cotton blends from Italian mill Paoletti Tessuti. Their "P-Eco" fabrics are used to line our mini handbag, belt bag and pouch.
We use three fabrics from the P-Eco range. They have the following compositions:"Calvin": 65% Organic Cotton, 30% Cotton, 5 % Acrylic"Tors Krown": 58% Organic Cotton, 38% Cotton, 4% Acrylic"Mini Giamaica": 65% Cotton, 30% Linen, 5% Acrylic.
The small amount of acrylic improves the longevity of the textiles, helping to preserve the beauty of the bag for longer.
The lining in our wash bags and backpacks is sourced from deadstock fabrics in Tuscany. "Deadstock" fabric is another way of saying material that is unsold, or has been discarded by other companies. By using material that is already in existence we are effectively upcycling it, avoiding unnecessary production of new materials.
For our tote bags, we use a microfibre called "Lyliane" from Italian company Lorenzi. We are acutely aware that microfibre is perhaps a controversial choice, however there are a number of reasons why we have opted to use it: One of the main issues surrounding microfibres is when they are washed, they release micro plastics into waterways. Our totes are not designed to be washed in a machine, avoiding this key issue.
The specific, open construction of our tote bag works much better with a microfibre lining compared to a woven textile.The microfibre produced by Lorenzi is super long lasting, highly resistant and vastly superior to a woven textile lining, again improving the longevity of the tote bag.
Lorenzi is a company that proudly shares our human and environmental values, making them a valued supplier that we envisage working with for many years and supporting them in their quest to develop ever-greener materials.To this end, Lorenzi are working on a recycled microfibre which we will switch to as soon as possible.
As LUXTRA is a small company however, it is currently out of our reach financially to purchase the 300 metres minimum order quantity for this recycled microfibre. It is however our goal to do so in the near future.
Eco-friendly hemp is far superior to organic cotton and most other natural fibres and it is our goal is to transition to using hemp as lining (and possibly outers) for our bags by 2021.The reason we are not using hemp at present is because of the high price given our small requirements, as well as the increased carbon footprint involved in shipping it from Asia to Italy, where our manufacturing is based.
Would you like more information on the next-generation, bio-based leather alternatives?
We receive many enquiries about the innovative materials with which we work. As part of our commitment to transparency, we are happy to share our knowledge. The more people that know about these materials and the more brands that use them, the better it is for the planet. Easy.
We now offer an eBOOK on bio-based vegan leathers, containing all the essential information for buying and working with these next-generation materials.
The eBOOK contains information about the apple, cactus, pineapple, mango, corn-based alternative "leather" materials, along with many more currently under development, such as mycelium (a.k.a. mushroom "leather").