ELeather – or ‘engineered leather’ – joins “vegan” leathers in the market for alternative synthetic materials to traditional leather. Customers often remark that ‘vegan’ leathers, though more attractive for sustainability, rarely offer the same performance of traditional leather. So, how does ELeather measure up?
What is ELeather?
It is the self-described “pioneer of engineered leather”. Essentially, ELeather combines waste leather with an unspecified “high performance core” to make a material of “superior performance… while maintaining the look and feel of true leather”.
The company explains that they use a “hydroentanglement technology” to lock leather fibres with a “strong textile core”. They say that this negates the need for adhesives and that the result is a structure similar to the one of traditional leather. However, unlike traditional leather, ELeather offers a material without natural markings or defects.
They are a UK company, already working with many global brands and supplying industries such as transport and footwear. Take a look at all of the products they offer here.
How sustainable is ELeather?
“We’ve been making a product out of primarily waste material for almost 15 years now, with an incredibly environmentally efficient production process, that has huge advantages to things like fuel consumption in-service, and is silently helping to make critical industries, like transportation, make real changes now”.Lee W., LinkedIn 2021
ELeather’s Head of Sustainability highlights the eco-friendliness of preventing waste leather ending up in landfill, one of the biggest problems in the industry. They responsibly source their raw materials, saying that they refuse any material from the “Amazonian Biome or other areas of environmental concern”. ELeather group is also behind Design For Good, an initiative encouraging more responsible design. Amongst their other sustainability claims are:
- Over 7000 tonnes of leather recycled since 2011
- Up to 50% recycled content
- Over 60% lower CO2 emissions
- Over 55% reduction in use of natural resources
Hydroentanglement technology involves the use of high pressure water jets for the bonding process, the sustainability of which is hard to determine. ELeather does claim, however, that the water they save is “enough to fill 18000 Olympic swimming pools”. Though nearly impossible to confirm whether these claims are 100% true, ELeather is supported by the Recycled Claim Standard and the Higg Index.
How does it perform functionally?
To better demonstrate ELeather’s functionality, we made a card wallet at our factory. We found that ELeather holds true to being a stable, predictable material. It embossed and stitched very cleanly and similarly, we had no trouble splitting and skiving. Our pattern cutter noted that there was a slight ‘puckering’ of the wallet’s opening (as seen in image 2) and recommended a heated platten to solve this problem.
An advantage of ELeather is that it offers a high yield and low waste thanks to it being a regular width and on a roll. As the surface is synthetically pigmented there are very few faults (compared to a natural leather hide). In addition, the colour, thickness and texture are consistent throughout.
One thing we have found with ELeather and indeed all the other synthetic leathers we have reviewed is that it is quite difficult to achieve a really good cut edge finish (compared to say a genuine bridle leather). The fibrous nature of the base layer can be difficult to smooth down and this creates almost invisible bumps on the joined edges which only show up on application of the final coats of colour. A solution is to add additional coats of edge colour or to “double cut” before any edge finishing i.e. glue together slightly larger pieces and then die cut the final component.
You can request samples of ELeather’s various products from their website.
Overall, we found ELeather to be a very workable material. We would point out that it probably requires lining or doubling up to create better stability for larger bags. Ethically, we like that it repurposes waste leather and that the company stands for more environmentally friendly design and innovation. We would recommend contacting us for more information or advice on how to create your product with ELeather! Find our contact form and more details about our Manchester-based factory here.
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.
© MPLG Ltd 2021