There’s no doubt that Italy is known for wine, fashion, and leather. Did you know many Italian leather companies ship their hides to China to be chemically processed before manufacturing their goods? The chemical process is environmentally hazardous and creates pollution in the rivers in China, which ultimately ends up in our oceans.

Who’s developing alternative leather?

If you’re an animal lover and/or Vegan, you may be one that doesn’t wear leather and seeks alternatives. After 3 years of research and development, Milan-based architect Gianpiero Tessitore, came up with the idea of using raw materials left over from wine production to turn into vegetable leather. The fully vegetal raw material (known as grape marc) consists of the grape skins, stalks, and seeds that remain after crushing the grapes during wine production. Many wine producers compost this byproduct and some make grappa.

By June 2016 Tessitore patented the wine leather production process and launched his company, Vegea. The material is compatible with all forms of animal leather such as fashion, furniture, automotive and transportation. Major car manufacturers like BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Buick already use Vegan leather interiors.

According to Tessitore, Vegea is also highly sustainable. He could potentially produce three billion square meters of wine leather from an estimated 7 billion kilos of grape marc. We’ll drink to that!