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NGV Melbourne, Design Week 2019 – The Masters Institute of Creative Education talks Vegan Leather with Todd Anthony

“We have no reason to wear animal skin anymore” says Senior Fashion Editor Todd Anthony

Last week the National Gallery of Victoria, curated Melbourne Design Week 2019. The week included over two hundred talks, exhibitions, tours and workshops. Design practitioners from across the globe spent the week exploring how contemporary design is shaping our future.

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The Masters Institute of Creative Education, once again front and centre of design innovation, took great confidence in the overwhelming urgency within the fashion industry for vegan fashion products globally. We developed a vegan leather lecture and workshop series in participation with Design Week, in alliance with the NGV.

“If you wear leather you love pets, not animals.” Miley Cyrus.


The day started out with a lecture delivered by myself on what vegan fashion is. This was followed by a discussion on how many vegan fashion products within the global fashion market place are actually not necessarily eco-friendly. The aim of this lecture and discussion was to educate the designers and animal-friendly fashion enthusiasts present on sourcing vegan leather that was able to appease the three most common design requests in this field:

  1. The materials appearance and malleability is that of which it is trying to replicate (leathers of different textures and different weights)
  2. The material is eco-friendly. (minimal chemicals used in its production and is biodegradable)
  3. The cost of sourcing the material is aligned to that of leather or less.

The lecture and workshop attracted a diverse congregation of designers and fashion aficionados, all with one thing in common. All those in attendance have a love for animals, as I and so many others do. All curious to see what alternatives there are for switching from a leather to non-animal derived materials. Once the lecture had taken place the group moved through to the pattern making and garment construction studio, overlooking the majestic Princess Theatre on Spring Street. An area had been set up ready for the workshop, sparkling industrial machines hummed like new Porches ready for test driving, perforated, metallic vegan leathers rolled out onto the high pattern making tables with equipment ready for use.

After instruction, all present spent the afternoon constructing and personalising their vegan leather satchels, designed as laptop cases, whilst chatting about current technologies and design innovations contributing to the design industries movement away from animal skin.

“Choosing to live as a sustainable vegan activist means wearing more vintage (less waste; loving pieces for longer), playing with the newest eco-materials and technology, and making custom vegan pieces with some of my favourite designers,” Miley Cyrus

The four major brands who are taking full advantage of the new technologies and are using vegan leather include Louis Vuitton, Celine, Saint Laurent, Vivienne Westwood, and Stella McCartney.

Here are five examples of vegan leathers that are just as good for the planet as they are for saving the lives of animals.

  • Cork – Long used as a water-resistant, organic material in floor tiling, cork is widely regarded as being one of the most ecologically friendly materials around.
  • Recycled Rubber – Some rubbers, such as that used in inner tubes, have a leathery texture and density.
  • Cool stone ‘Leather’ – A brand new kind of ‘leather’ made from slate stone, this has a matte grey finish and looks and feels a bit like leather combined with rock.
  • Pinatex – This material is made from wasted parts of the pineapple bush, and is 100% eco-friendly,
  • Mu-Skin – This latest innovation comes from mushrooms. You can grow this mushroom leather to the size and shape you need for any given design.

As a design professional, academic, fashion editor and vegan, I want to thank The Masters Institute of Creative Education for investing into the continual research and development of true innovation that contributes to fashion product that doesn’t just look good but is guilt free.

If you would like to know more about Design Week, please go to the National Gallery of Victoria, website: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/

The answer to the question in your head, will we be doing it again? YES, we will. Please go to The Masters Institute of Creative Education, website: https://themasters.institute/
Senior Fashion Editor. Todd Anthony
Imagery: Claudia Altavilla.

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