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Global Change Award is an innovation challenge initiated by H&M Foundation, aiming to make fashion circular.
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Grape Leather

Using leftovers from winemaking to create fully vegetal leather.

Awarded: €300,000 Year: 2017 Company: Vegea

In addition to requiring the lives of millions of animals annually, animal leather production affects the environment by using acids, heavy metals and large amounts of water for tanning. Production of synthetic leather alternatives might save the lives of animals, but generates pollution with synthetic polymers, plasticizers and solvents.

Architect Gianpiero Tessitore was working on his furniture designs when he realized that the fashion industry still can’t offer a truly green alternative to animal and synthetic leather.

Together with industrial chemist Francesco Merlino, he embarked on a mission to find one. After three years of research they discovered that the fibres and oils from winemaking leftovers is ideal for making 100 percent vegetal leather.

Since winning the Global Change Award, the team has worked on their first prototypes for dresses, handbags and shoes made of grape leather. They’ve won the Horizon 2020, the biggest EU research and innovation program ever, and it’s one of the most prestigious validations of their work, which will help to grow their research team.  The European Parliament also recognized Vegea as one of the best European start-ups of the new millennium.

“Thanks to the Global Change Award, we are experiencing a great momentum and getting attention from media and potential clients within the fashion, furniture and automotive industries,” says Valentina Longobardo.

Owners of idea: Rosa Rossella Longobardo, Gianpiero Tessitore, Francesco Merlino and Valentina Longobardo
Country: Italy
Innovation name: Vegea
vegeacompany.com