Vegan Lab-Made Leather on the Verge of Mass Release

Biotechnology startup Modern Meadow secures a partnership with industrial corporation Evonik to disrupt the $100 billion animal-leather industry with vegan yeast-based leather alternatives.


Biotechnology startup Modern Meadow recently partnered with European industrial corporation Evonik to increase the distribution of its vegan-leather materials. The brand made its public debut last year with a shirt made with its proprietary Zoa leather that it exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York—which has since added it to its permanent collection. Modern Meadow creates alternatives to animal-based leather with the help of yeast that it turns into usable materials in approximately two weeks. “We have engineered a strain of yeast—like a cousin of what you’d use to brew beer—which can produce collagen through fermentation,” CEO Andras Forgacs said. “Collagen, which is found in animal skins, is the main biological building block of leather. We assemble it into a range of materials that become our Zoa bioleather.” Modern Meadow’s partnership with Evonik will help bring its materials to luxury designers in the fashion, automotive, and sports industries in its mission to disrupt the $100 billion animal-leather industry. “It can go anywhere traditional leather would go,” Forgacs said, “and beyond.”