How Is Grape Skin Leather Made?

The global fashion industry is one of the leading contributors to climate change. 

At Jayley, we’re always looking for ways to help preserve the planet for the future, which is why we invest time into creating, sourcing and choosing more sustainable, high-quality pieces to add to our collections.

The latest innovative material to arrive at Jayley is grape skin leather, available as part of our accessories collection. Grape skin leather is biodegradable and completely vegan-friendly, using the waste from wine production to make stunning, sustainable accessories such as grape skin leather bags. 

From how it’s made to its durability, here’s everything you need to know about grape skin leather and why you should choose this exceptional fabric the next time you shop for accessories.

Table of contents:

How do you make grape skin leather?

How durable is grape leather?

Is grape leather biodegradable?

Grape skin leather at Jayley 

How do you make grape skin leather?

In fashion and accessories, plant-based leathers are on the up. Usually upcycled from an existing waste stream, vegan leather is the first step that sees fashion begin to break away from the cattle industry and removes the issues surrounding animal welfare. 

Black grapes hanging from vines in the sun

Grape skin leather is made solely from the waste of wine production, particularly the solid remains of grapes after they have been pressed. This waste, which includes grape skins, pulps, seeds and stems, is known as pomace and is soaked in hot water until it hardens like leather. 

As grape skin leather doesn’t contain the same oils as conventional leather, it’s more prone to cracking and damage. That’s why, in some cases, the grape pomace is coated with a water-based polyurethane to protect it.. Although not an ideal solution, this process helps preserve the grape leather’s longevity. Even with the coating, grape leather is made mostly from recycled and renewable products. 

The beauty of grape skin leather is that it repurposes what would otherwise be discarded as waste, making wine-making a more circular economy. As a general rule, 10 kilograms of wine produced creates around 2.5 kilograms of waste. This waste, if not repurposed as animal feed, is usually burned, emitting more CO2 into the environment. One square metre of wine leather can be produced from just 2.5 kilograms of waste, making the wine industry much more sustainable. 

How durable is grape leather?

Because conventional leather contains natural oils, it has enough moisture to prevent it from drying out, which can lead to cracking and damage. Although grape leather is smooth, durable, water-resistant and feels like real leather, it doesn’t benefit from these natural oils and, therefore, doesn’t offer the same longevity as animal leather.

However, grape leather is made thicker than conventional leather, so it is more flexible and durable and, therefore, less prone to damage.

Coating grape leather with polyurethane helps to improve the garment’s wearability and longevity. Companies like VEGEA, a sustainable grape leather producer, opt for water-based polyurethane as it is the most environmentally friendly option available. 

Although this process essentially coats the garment in plastic, it is only a real issue at the end of the product’s life, as it impacts its natural biodegradability. Synthetic fabrics need millions of tonnes of oil to be produced yearly; animal leather requires rigorous tanning, which is harmful to workers and the environment. Therefore, whilst grape leather lacks durability and may impact the environment at the end of its life, it’s a small price compared to the environmental impact caused by the fashion industry’s long-established methods. 

With work constantly being done to improve the performance and durability of plant-based leathers, it’s only a matter of time before grape skin manufacturers won’t need to use polyurethane at all.

Is grape leather biodegradable?

In its purest form, grape leather is 100% biodegradable. 

a bunch of grapes being held out in a man's hands

Grape skin leather is made from raw vegetable products and upcycling wine waste and is a combination of natural biodegradable materials, including grape skins, stalks and seeds.

Unless the surface of the grape leather has been treated with polyurethane, grape leather is made from 100% natural materials without the need for toxic solvents or dangerous substances that can impact humans and the environment during the production process. 

If natural products like grape leather are combined with synthetics like polyurethane, they won’t naturally biodegrade. This is why, in most instances, grape leather is used to make low-wash, long-lasting products such as bags and shoes that shouldn’t become easily worn. 

Currently, grape leather can’t naturally biodegrade when combined with polyurethane and is difficult to recycle. However, innovations are being discovered, helping to solve such problems and make animal leather a thing of the past. 

Grape skin leather may not be the final solution, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction, offering an exceptional fabric choice with very low environmental impact. 

Grape skin leather at Jayley 

A red haired white woman poses in a patterned cardigan and jeans with a grape skin leather bag

Add some planet-conscious pieces to your wardrobe by shopping for grape skin bags at Jayley. Available in various colours, making environmentally-friendly shopping choices has never been easier. Perfect for pairing with a range of stylish outfits, the hardest part will be choosing your favourite. Or, if you want to make your whole wardrobe more planet-friendly, why not explore our complete sustainability collection? From bamboo to banana peel, discover our innovative materials that are helping to make a small step towards a healthier and happier planet. 

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How Is Banana Peel Clothing Made?

How Is Rose Petal Clothing Made?

How To Care For Bamboo Fabric?

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