Dylan Kain’s vegan bio-leather range takes the waste out of winemaking


Magic happens when winemaking and fashion collide. 

In a recurring daydream of mine, I’m curled up on a wooden porch, looking over the undulating hills beneath me. These hills are not just any mounds of earth; they’re dotted with grape vines because I am, of course, a professional natural winemaker. I stomp grapes in my sleep!

I know my gamay from my grenache and pet nats are my forté. I end the day with a tipple made from my own sprawling vineyard. So when two of my favourite worlds collide, magic happens. Dream life and reality; winemaking and fashion. Dylan Kain, the local must-have accessories label, is embracing this fusion with its first foray into vegan handbags

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Your average vegan leather is not without issue. Sure, no animals were harmed in the process (or at least, not directly), but the hard fact is that most alternatives are simply rebranded plastic. Savvy marketers have made ‘pleather’ cool again with the makeover of polyurethane and PVC.

The idea sounds great but really these fabrics are made from petroleum-based inputs, making the manufacturing process toxic for workers and the environment (not to mention the use of finite, fossil fuel resources). These pieces are also a landfill disaster waiting to happen come the end of their life – returning to this earth, they are not.

Branding something ‘vegan’ might be of the moment and make for quick sales, but is it really ethical or sustainable? As a label genuinely committed to sustainability and creating a real impact, Dylan Kain is determined to not just replace leather with plastic. Thankfully, options that harm neither the planet nor animals are becoming increasingly normalised.

A plastic-free lifestyle, in all respects, is desirable and increasingly attainable. There are leather alternatives made from oranges, mushrooms, apples, kombucha and pineapples, among other natural-leaning bases. Some are more viable than others.

‘Bio-leather’ is the umbrella term given to these materials; greener options that are made in environmentally friendly ways and can be disposed of without causing further harm. 

In the age of rewear and reuse, every peel, scrap and discard serves a purpose and has the opportunity to become something new. So, from our wine-loving behaviours, another substitute has arrived on our doorstep. Dylan Kain has partnered with Vegea, the label’s vegan bio-leather of choice. 

Worldwide, 26 billion litres of wine are produced each year, 18 per cent of which comes from Italy. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the birthplace of Vegea. Developed by Milanese architect Francesco Merlino and bio-chemist Gianpiero Tessitore, its name reflects the core reasons for its existence: vegan (veg) and Mother Earth (ea). 

According to the label, for every 10 litres of wine produced, there are approximately 2.5 kilograms of waste left behind, including seeds, skins and other green matter. From this amount of waste, Vegea creates one square metre of wine leather, turning one man’s trash (the winemaker) into another’s treasure (ours). 

Not only does it sound impressive to say “Have you seen my wine leather mini bag?”, but you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the difference. The resulting fabric is high-quality and feels beautiful, supple and smooth; it’s solvent-free, animal-friendly and good-looking. (Vegea is also compliant with Reach, stringent European regulations that monitor all chemicals in a range of industries.) 

The female-led label’s introductory line offers two styles based on core pieces: The LSC (use it as a clutch, shoulder bag or wallet) and Mini Rodriguez. Black is a traditional and timeless colourway, while the second colour available is aptly called Wine – a rich maroon reflecting a glass of fire-side merlot. Plus, you can choose between light gold or silver hardware.

For a while there, my hopes for sustainable fashion were dimming – things seemed to get a little too beige and safe. But fashion is meant to be fun! We’re supposed to be inspired and excited, driven to spread messages and communicate via our choices. Now it’s easier to herald your passion for a good glass of red and support a greener fashion industry. You can literally wear your heart on your sleeve/arm. 

This marks a step forward for Dylan Kain, and shows us that it’s one to watch as it continues to delve deeper into alternative materials and meet its sustainability goals. 

Better still, by jumping on the bio-leather bandwagon you can feel a little less guilty about your next glass. After all, you could be wearing the remnants of it on your shoulder next season. Daydreams can come true. 

To discover the new vegan collection, head here.

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