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Kombucha and… Vegan Leather?

by Hannah Barnett

As the climate crisis worsens, and fast fashion continues to be one of the biggest negative impacts, scientists have now turned to living organisms for solutions. 

Kombucha, a fermented drink using tea that has recently skyrocketed in popularity due to its unique approach to positive health changes, has once again taken society by surprise. A recent discovery by scientists found that it contains a byproduct called ‘SCOBY.’ Meaning it’s a symbiotic culture of bacteria that can turn into vegan leather! 

The process of creating SCOBY is five steps long; Harvesting, Purification, Moulding and Shaping, drying and eventually finishing - sometimes being treated with natural oils or dyes on occasion to make the material water resistant. It's a hardcore, dense cycle that fashion companies have to be fully committed to if they agree to carry it out. 

This has turned the heads of environmentally aware fashion designers who are now trying to incorporate this regenerative form of leather into their collections. While this includes Kate Hall, Sacha Lauren, and Emma van der Leest, no one has done it quite like Tran Hung. 

Tran Hung is a Vietnamese fashion brand, founded in 2017, who have always prioritised being an ethical and sustainable house. No wonder they were excited at this fashion discovery - and took every chance they could to include it in their latest collection. 

With a following of 1 million on Instagram and recently styling the iconic Ariana Grande for her SNL stint, Tran Hung are constantly making an impact on the industry. 

But, it was their AW24 collection where the collaboration with SCOBY was made, solidifying their brand as one to watch. 

The collections colour palette was focused around dark black and nude tones, paired with white to portray the spirit of surrealism in fashion. 

Tran Hung’s use of delicate hand sewing techniques and hand craftsmanship limits their use of machinery, adding to their sustainable improvements. As well as many of their designs being made from excess fabric which limits further waste. 

Alongside vegan leather, the collection uses hand woven silk which can be seen in their off the shoulder maxi dress, juxtaposing a more masculine midnight black jumpsuit styled with oval frame sunglasses. There are also a handful of two piece sets, the dusty colour tone of these emphasising the natural materials they are created from. 

Paying homage to the Vietnamese Tết holiday (shortened from “Tết Nguyên Đán”), this collection also considers culture as a way of portraying their designs. This tradition means ‘Festival of the first Morning of the First Day,’ almost like how this futuristic, innovative approach to sourcing material can be seen - it's like new days, better days, for our planet. 

Would you wear living bacteria to help save the planet?

Edited by Emily Duff

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