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If the future of fashion is sustainability, then could lab-grown leather be the solution to the industry’s environmental problems? VitroLabs Inc certainly believe so. The company is a startup based in California and fronted by CEO and co-founder Ingvar Helgason. But how can you grow leather in a lab? And is it a realistic alternative?

The process

According to the VitroLabs Inc website, all the biologists need is “a few cells” in a “harmless, one-time biopsy from a living animal”. The cow itself has then played its part. The scientists go on to “help these cells… self-regenerate, indefinitely, producing all that’s needed to make a high-quality animal hide”. They claim this process takes only a few weeks in contrast with the natural years of growth on animals.

Why lab-grown leather?

Current leather manufacturing is wasteful and environmentally devastating. “Vegan” alternatives are often petroleum-based, highly polluting and lacking the beloved qualities of real leather.

VitroLabs Inc

It’s true that vegan leathers are less than perfect. And as Helgason states in an interview, “leather-like alternatives can mimic, but they will never match the look, feel and performance of real leather”. Lab-grown leather offers a solution that reduces waste, eliminates harm to animals and makes no compromise on the material.

Is it realistic?

The idea is certainly an attractive one. Benefits for manufacturers include shorter production timeframes and a more consistent product. However, Helgason mentioned engineering challenges in scaling up production. Even if the company should overcome said challenges, it’s hard to tell how much of a positive impact lab-grown leather will have.

Helgason implied that lab-grown leather will debut on the market as a premium-priced product. Their main targets are the luxury leather goods market, car companies and the sports and activewear industry. While any change is good change, it is the fast fashion industry – one notoriously known for cutting financial corners – that really needs these alternatives.


Despite aforementioned snags, we sit with fingers crossed. VitroLabs Inc say one single biopsy can produce billions of square feet of leather. In other words, enough to supply the luxury market for the next decade.

Currently, we know very little more about the company. MPLG is keeping an eye on this potentially revolutionary material!

MPLG Ltd is a private label manufacturer of premium quality bags, backpacks and wallets, in leather, synthetics or textiles, for international brands. Established in 1976; we have capabilities and expertise in every area of sampling and production. We make all items in our own factory in Manchester, England.

All content and opinions stated here are to the best of our knowledge, true and correct. We cannot be held liable for any unintentional errors or omissions. We recommend that you make your own detailed enquiries before making any decision based on the above information.

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