If you’re a strict vegan, much of the fashion world is closed off to you—namely, anything made with leather. While no one can deny the comfort of a Tom’s slip-on, it’s just not going to cut it in the boardroom. Now, finally, researchers have developed a vegan leather. The coolest part? It’s made from tea.
Technically, the leather-like material is made from kombucha, a fermented tea. Researchers from Iowa State University create the "teather," as some people have taken to calling it, by combing cellulose fibers taken from kombucha tea with vinegar, sugar, bacteria and yeast in a shallow bath. Then, they harvest the material that grows on top of the mix and dry it. Ta-da! A tough, very leather-like leather substitute is born.
As promising as it sounds, there are some kinks. The vegan-friendly, biodegradable (another plus) material gets soft when it gets wet and loses structural integrity. Cold temperatures make it brittle. It also takes four weeks to grow just one sheet of teather. The research team is working on fixing these issues and is confident that they will find solutions. Don’t worry, vegans, you’ll get to wear that animal cruelty-free leather vest with fringe you’ve always dreamt of—just not quite yet.