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Why create a vegan leather handbag?
At MODHER, we considered this question for years. Our hide-based leather had become such a passion project, and we were proud and excited about the groundbreaking eco-friendliness of our leather products. We felt — and still feel — that the leather production that forms the basis of most of our products is ethical, thoughtful, and special.
But we know that people of all kinds, and from all backgrounds, are looking for fashionable pieces that they can feel good about wearing. Crafting a piece that speaks to folks who would prefer not to purchase hide-based leather was a worthy endeavor for us, but only if we could do it right.
Most vegan leather pieces on the market today are made from plastics, and their full lifecycles — from creation to retirement — are harmful to the environment. When our founder, Gianna Caravello, learned about a new plastic-free, plant-based material creating buzz in the world of sustainable fashion, she was intrigued.
Produced by Natural Fiber Welding (NFW), MIRUM® is a high-performance material made of all-natural ingredients. MIRUM uses absolutely no plastic, and while it complements leather, its plant-based material is 100% vegan.
Our first vegan handbag utilizes the design of our Maya Crossbody in elegant black MIRUM material. Here, Gianna shares her experience working with NFW to develop the custom material and what the sustainable new product means to her luxury brand and the fashion industry.
Why did MODHER decide to partner with Natural Fiber Welding to create a product made of MIRUM?
We found in MIRUM a valid alternative to leather. In our mission to go plastic-free, we were looking for a material that could match the performance of real leather. MIRUM is totally plastic free and made from natural rubber, minerals, and other natural fibers. After testing it with our production team in Italy, we decided to make our first vegan plastic-free alternative-leather handbag.
What does MIRUM’s availability and growing popularity mean for the fashion industry?
For the part of the industry that aims to reduce its impact on the environment by eliminating the plastic in the products, MIRUM could be a key solution. On the consumer side, especially the vegan and vegetarian community that refuses products from animal origin, this provides an alternative to non-leather products and uses no plastic. Most synthetic leather today is created from plastic polymers. MIRUM, meanwhile, uses only safe, natural, renewable ingredients.
How is the Maya Crossbody made of MIRUM different from the original version?
The model itself is the same, and both versions are handcrafted in Italy from the same workshop in Florence.
One major difference is the color—for now, we have one color combination for the vegetable-tanned leather while the Maya made of MIRUM is all black.
The biggest difference, of course, is the materials used to make each bag. The Maya with vegetable-tanned leather and off-white canvas is a bag to wear with certain care. The Maya with MIRUM offers more flexibility and ease.
Our goal was to produce the Maya with plant-based material, creating a unique handbag that’s thoughtfully produced. We don’t like the concept of faux leather—we prefer to work with authentic and genuine material. For this reason, MIRUM is aligned with our mission.
What was the experience of producing a handbag with MIRUM like?
MIRUM showed great flexibility during the phases of prototyping and sampling, and the result was beyond our expectations. The Maya crossbody made with MIRUM has the perfect balance of dimension and weight. The material is versatile enough to adapt to different projects, and we hope to apply it on other handbag models in the future.
The team at NFW is very professional and supportive, and we love that the material is sourced in the United States, as well. We’re excited to support this innovation and new business.
MODHER has a very specific, meticulous process for producing their handbags. Is the process for creating a bag with MIRUM different?
The process was mostly the same as with our handbags made of leather. Our team evaluated the aesthetics while testing the performance. It was also important to us to verify that the material didn’t contain any harmful substances, heavy metal or, of course, plastic. After these steps, we built the first prototype. The biggest surprise was that we didn’t need to make a lot of samples to get it right. Thanks to our skilled and professional workshop and the great performance of this new material, we successfully produced the first sample after just a few steps.
What can consumers expect from this bag?
The bag is comfortable, light and very versatile to use on different occasions. The basic black allows it to match with virtually any outfit, from summer to winter. Like our other models, it is designed with timelessness and cross-seasonality in mind.
Consumers can expect to feel good about the unique sustainability of this handbag—from the raw materials used to make it to how it was manufactured to the packaging and shipping.