Cradle-to-Cradle bags made of banana peel leather and coffee packaging.
The leather industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and the number of customers that are reluctant to buy animal leather accessories is growing. A quarter of 25-34 year olds identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian and there has been a 600% increase in people adopting veganism over the past 3 years- There is a need to work and use more and more bio/vegan leather that has the same properties in terms of softness and durability.
In Italy alone, 46 million coffee packaging (a non-recyclable compound of plastic and aluminium) are thrown away every year, and their disposal is a huge environmental problem.
The project represents a new way of interpreting an accessory that combines ethics and aesthetics. It’s part of a circular economy system where materials find new life through high-level artisanal techniques. They intend to replace leather with vegan leather (from banana peel) and offer the market a product that is 100% sustainable and cruelty-free. The interweaving of the coffee packaging allows different patterns to be created and the use of two different innovative materials in the same product means the partnership appeals to those who want to have a unique, exclusive and ethical lifestyle.
Meraky being a conscious brand, using animal leather has always bothered us. We are not vegan, nor vegetarian, but we are nonetheless sensitive to the mistreatment of animals and the environmental impact of the tannery industry. Animal skin needs to be preserved and a lot of toxic chemicals are used in the process. These chemicals can end up in soil and water supplies, and can also harm the people working in the tannery industry. Faux leather is not an option, as it’s even more polluting than animal leather.
THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT:
Last year we met Monica and her start-up, Casa Grigi, from Portugal and decided to participate in the 3rd call of the Worth Partnership Project. Monica has been working in the development of new materials for 10 years, has 5 patents registered and won several awards, such as “A Design Awards” in 2016. From the start, we knew what kind of partner we were looking for and with what goal: develop a natural material that could replace leather in our creations. There is a trend now of so-called vegan materials, but often they contain synthetic and artificials components that we don’t want to have in our products.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS:
Together with Casa Grigi, we were able to develop PACOBA.TEX: an innovative, cruelty-free, 100% vegan and natural material, 80% made of banana peels. The rest is secret, but all is natural! When we met her, Monica was already working with bananas and had started exploring the possibilities of developing a new material with it. She was at the very early stages of development and the new material was very fragile. Monica was however very determined and committed to turn it into a stronger and resistant product. She chose bananas as they ripen quite quickly and often, when they get brown and nobody wants to buy them, end up in the garbage. Together, thanks to a partnership that Casa Grigi has established with a portugues supermarket chain, we are helping rescue some of them from a future in the landfill.
The process has not been easy. From the technical point of view, developing a new material is always a challenging process: many tests need to be made, both from the producer’s and the designers’ sides, and several back and forth shipments between Italy and Portugal. Due to the world health crisis, these exchanges have slowed down the entire project, but the final material has finally been finalised and Meraky’s next collection, Mocha Split, was launched on April, 10th 2021 with our first pre-order campaing. The collection will be completed during the second pre-order campaign in June and will include a unisex backpack (great for cyclers!) and a large shoulder bag. All the accessories will be made out of the new vegan material, with small details with our “signature” coffee packaging interwoven pattern.
The partnership with Casa Grigi has been such an enrichment for us, we all got along well from the start, as we share the same objective. Working together on this project has given us insights that we would not have, had we “just” purchased an already-made vegan material. We now know how it is done, how long it takes to be produced and how much care Monica puts is in every single piece she makes. As Meraky does, she puts a piece of her soul in all of her creations.
In order to avoid producing any unnecessary waste, reduce the carbon footprint of shipment from Portugal, and because each sample of the new material and every item of the new collection will be hand-made, we choose to apply a “Made-to-order” sales model. You will have a limited window to place your order and we’ll create each item especially for you: something special you can wait for. This “made for you” philosophy moves the focus
away from fast fashion to human interactions, connecting us with you. We’ll send regular updates so that you can see how your accessory is made, understand and value the artisanal know-how and the uniqueness that lies behind every item.
For your hands, made by our hands.
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Meraky designs produces and sells innovative fashion and design accessories, brought to life thanks to their idea of using waste as a raw material. They use coffee packaging made of a plastic and aluminium poly-laminate, which normally goes to landfill, as it is non-recyclable, to create new products.
- MERAKY DI EMILIA PAOLICELLI
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