BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
State of the Industry Report: Next-Gen Materials
The Material Innovation Initiative issued a first-of-its-kind State of the Industry Report on next-gen materials. The report gives an introduction to this nascent industry. It provides an overview of the key players involved, considers driving forces accelerating the development of next-gen materials, and provides market projections of the global wholesale next-gen materials market. It is a valuable resource for material innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and brands considering entering the space.
June 21, 2021
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENTS
What Makes Silk, Silk? Report
Material Innovation Initiative issued a report examining the unique properties of silk and exploring next-generation silk alternatives that are less harmful to both animals and the environment. The report’s author, MII’s Chief Scientific Officer Sydney Gladman, Ph.D., carefully considers the qualities of silk most important to fashion designers and expertly makes the latest material science accessible. This Silk Report is a one-of-a-kind resource for scientists, textile suppliers and material innovators.
June 3, 2021
Mycelium Leather Technology Assessment
You know that mushrooms have been a food source for centuries. These days, their use in building materials and as packaging is replacing plastics in a sustainable way. MII is particularly excited about growing mycelium as animal-free leather. For this technology assessment, we went underground for the real story of how the roots of mushrooms can change the way leather is made.
Consumer Adoption of Next-Gen Materials: A US Segmentation Study
In collaboration with MII, North Mountain Consulting Group conducted a consumer research study to assess indicators of future adoption, determine potential market shares, and profile early adopters of next-gen materials. The sample included 2,051 participants representative of the US population. Nearly all participants (94%) were at least somewhat likely to purchase next-gen materials, and nearly half (45%) were highly likely to purchase. Interest in purchasing was consistent across generations and geographic regions. Estimated market share of next-gen products was over half of total purchases for each material subcategory: 54% of leather, 57% of wool, 60% of silk, 61% of down, 66% of fur, and 63% of exotic skins. This study outlines the overall landscape of potential consumer adoption among the US population, as well as the preferences, shopping habits, and sociodemographic profile of early adopters.
Next-Gen Leather: Chinese Consumer Perceptions
A Material Innovation Initiative study done in collaboration with North Mountain Consulting Group shows a very high degree of acceptance of next-gen leather products in urban China: 90% reported a preference for next-gen leather over conventional leather and 70% reported a high (“very” or “extremely”) likelihood of purchasing. Qualitative results showed that those who preferred next-gen leather appreciated the altruistic benefit for the environment and animals, while enjoying the innovation, fashion, and affordability aspects of the products. The study also investigated messaging effectiveness and the willingness of consumers to pay more for alternatives. These findings highlight the opportunities for material scientists, startups, and brands working to develop next-gen replacements for animal-derived leather.
August 2, 2021
New Materials Nomenclature Assessment
In collaboration with MII, North Mountain Consulting Group conducted a consumer research study to assess nomenclature options for a new category of high performance materials that are more sustainable than their conventional animal-derived counterparts. This two-phase study included 501 participants representative of the US population. The purpose was to test consumer preferences for the general category name for these materials as well as specific terms for each sub-category (leather, wool, down, silk, fur, exotic skins). The authors recommend next-gen as an overarching, consumer-friendly category term, which can be used in conjunction with product- and technology-specific names.
Alternatives to Leather: An Exploratory Study of U.S. Consumer Perceptions
A Material Innovation Initiative study done in collaboration with North Mountain Consulting Group shows that the scales have tipped away from animal leather and toward leather alternatives for many consumers in the U.S. According to the results, while many consumers value the performance and aesthetics of animal leather, the majority say they prefer leather alternatives for reasons that include environmental and other ethical considerations. The study also investigated messaging effectiveness and the willingness of consumers to pay more for alternatives. These findings highlight barriers to adoption of leather alternatives and opportunities for material scientists, startups, and brands working to develop next-gen replacements for animal-derived leather.
LEARN ABOUT NEXT GEN SILK TECHNOLOGY
Decoding Nature's High-Performance Fiber with Alex Connor
Are you curious about how scientists are working on developing replacements for silk in the lab? In this presentation, Alex Connor, a PhD student in chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute explains in a very approachable and digestible way what silk is by looking at its components, including amino acids, peptides, and proteins, and then how the silk proteins can be replicated through non-animal sources into fibrils, fibers, and then woven fabrics. He also explains why industry is trying to replicate silk. Silk is such a unique fiber with high tensile strength, elasticity, and toughness and well as being lightweight, biocompatible, temperature stable, and completely biodegradable. It also has significant negative attributes such as killing trillions of silkworms per year and having the most negative environmental impact out of all materials used in the fashion industry. A handful of companies have already developed next gen silk materials which do not use animals and are more sustainable.
MATERIAL TESTING REPORTS
Material Performance and Sourcing: Bovine Leather
In order to replace leather, we need to know what makes leather desirable. People don't buy leather because they want an animal to be killed. They buy leather because of its look, feel, quality, and performance all of which can be replicated using non-animal and less environmentally damaging materials. This report lays out the attributes brands look for in leather, how to test for them, and what metrics material companies need to meet in order to satisfy brand requirements. The more we understand why people purchase leather, the better we can produce materials which meet their needs but are animal-free and more sustainable.
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