Nova Kaeru is a Brazilian company considered a pioneer in the development of sustainable fabric panels. Their most recent is a plant-based product called beLEAF™, promoted as an alternative to traditional leather. With beLEAF, Nova Kaeru won the Best Natural Material Award at the Asia Pacific Leather Fair in 2019. The company also developed a tanning method called LIVE™ (Low Input Vast Effect) that is free of heavy metals and transforms their materials into long lasting luxury products.
beLEAF™ is made from the leaves of the Elephant Ear plant (Alocasia macrorrhiza) grown and harvested near the factory. This plant was chosen for its large leaves, ranging in size from 2-5 m². beLEAF is produced in a dozen different colors and can have a matte or glossy finish.
Image from Italhide and Nova Kaeru.
Production process: Mechanical/Chemical
The elephant ear plants are grown on land owned by Nova Kaeru and in partnership with neighboring independent farmers involved in reforestation projects. Nova Kaeru harvests the leaves and processes them with their proprietary L.I.V.E. ️(Low Input Vast Effect) system that returns all manufacturing residues to the environment. Solids are used as compost; liquids for plant irrigation. According to Nova Kaeru, this technology could be adapted to tan any plant for use as a leather alternative.
Clothing, footwear, accessories, and furniture
In 2019, Dominic Ciambrone from The Shoe Surgeon customized a Nike shoe with beLEAF™.
Images from The Shoe Surgeon and Nova Kaeru
Also in 2019, Designers Rodrigo Brenner and Maurício Noronha from Furf Studio Design launched furniture made of beLEAF™ and recycled steel.
Images from Ricardo Perini (Furf Studio Design)
In February 2020, Brazilian designer João Maraschin debuted beLEAF™ at London Fashion Week.
Images from Harper’s Bazar and Fashion Forward.