Dec 5, 2018 Gerda Verbickaite
Andras started the discussion by explaining to the audience about the clever invention of biofabricated materials. Their team of experienced scientists develops the material through a fermentation process using yeast, jokingly as Andras compared the process to brewing beer, except the end product is material. The material is created by growing collagen, which is the core protein in skin tissue. This is one of the reasons why currently Modern Meadow associated itself to leather, even though the possibilities of variations to be produced with this method are endless.
Andras stated that many of us have purchased a leather product in the past year, most likely even wearing a leather item right now. It is a huge market, yet highly inefficient. Leather industry requires livestock, which means large use of land and an enormous amount of resources demand before the manufacturing of the actual leather even begins.
Once the manufacturing process begins, the producers are limited by what the sizes of livestock and often certain areas around the world, from which the materials are shipped around the world. Such a process is slow and creates a large amount of unnecessary waste. Andras explained, during the Q&A session, later in the day, that the Zoa™ material can be produced in a process that takes two weeks and as the manufacturing process is not dependent on livestock, their production is not restricted to certain areas, which could make production faster and less wasteful.
The whole concept of biofabricated materials can sometimes leave one slightly confused. It most definitely confused me at first. While currently Zoa™ is mostly resembled leather, it is not limited to it. Leather is just the beginning, not the end. Andras stated on Founder’s stage that: “We do not try to imitate leather, we have created our own material, which we called Zoa™, made from collagen, but it can go beyond leather in any ways.” He has stated in the past, that only imitating leather would be boring and counterintuitive, considering the opportunities that biofabrications opens up to the market. One day we could be even wearing something as unimaginable as transparent leather.
During the talk Andras explained that Modern Meadow creates the materials, and while they do have fashion oriented people in their team, they are a B2B organization, concentrating on the manufacturing and instead are strategically partnering up with best fashion players around the globe. Modern Meadow still has not released the names of their partners, but Andras mentioned, that the partner names should be public this time next and the first products might be out not too long after the partner release.
The partners of Modern Meadow will be the ones who bring the products to market, first concentrating on the producers on the upper end, who care about beautiful quality products and with time and more material options available, expand various markets outside.
Andras explains that he believes, that we are currently on the verge of something incredible happening when the material development and design meet again. The 20th century was a revolutionary time for materials, with synthetic textiles entering the world, and now in the 21st century we need to look for options to eliminate our dependency on livestock.
“It’s exciting because consumers will have new choices, new design and new additions to their wardrobe in a way that is better for the planet and doesn’t harm animals.”
During the Q&A session, Andras admitted, that he is looking forward to the day when people will go into the store and will be able to ask: “Can I get this in Zoa™?”
In the end, all the matters is the impact we leave on the world, as Andras stated – “Focus on the value and you will do right by yourself and by the world.”
After the show on Founder’s stage, Andras joined interested listened to the Founder Studio, where the audience was able to ask him questions, Andras did not manage to touch upon on the stage.
Andras explained to the audience, that the biofabricated leather has the potential to be of higher quality than regular leather, due to the abilities to improve. When asked about the limitations of biofabrication Andras answered, that even though Modern Meadow is still at the beginning of their journey, he can already see so many opportunities for the material. “We are not creating one material, we are creating a whole new world of materials, and we do not know yet what the limitations are”.
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