Modern Meadow is a New York based company growing animal-free, animal materials. Through DNA editing, non-animal cells are designed to produce collagen, the predominant protein found in animal skin. The collagen is then grown, purified, and biofabricated to create materials with the same natural building blocks that make up traditional leather. Freed from the structure of animal skin, biofabrication enables design and manufacture capabilities that are impossible with traditional leather. Here, Zoa assumes the form of liquid leather. Able to morph to any shape and combine with other materials, Zoa constructs a garment through liquid assembly instead of stitching.
1) So, what is Zoa bioleather and how do you create it?
Zoa™ is the world’s first bioleather materials brand. Made by Modern Meadow, Zoa is the company’s first generation of materials created with nature’s essential protein, collagen, but grown without animal derivatives. Supple, durable, and flexible in form, Zoa biofabricated leather materials open up new possibilities in design and manufacturing not possible with traditional leather. Modern Meadow is currently partnering with world-class brands across luxury and consumer goods categories to grow products of Zoa, slated for release in 2019.
At Modern Meadow we design the DNA of yeast to produce collagen. We then ferment the yeast, much like you would brew beer, to grow billions of collagen-producing cells. We purify this collagen and assemble it into unique material structures. We tan and finish our materials in a similar but lighter way to leather.
2) Why are you creating Zoa bioleather?
Prior to Modern Meadow, CEO Andras Forgacs co-founded Organovo (NYSE:ONVO), which pioneered the bio-printing of human tissue. The idea for Modern Meadow came after he was approached by players within the leather industry and asked: if it was possible to make human tissue, would it also be possible to create animal tissue – and therefore leather?
3) What other projects in the sustainable textiles/fashion space are you are excited about (done by you or others)?
At Modern Meadow, we are focused on growing bioleather materials using a biotechnology approach. We’re very much at the forefront of a new generation of material companies including Bolt Threads and Ecovative – who are working on spider silk and mushroom materials respectively.
4) How do you see the future of fashion?
Biofabrication is the ability to design and engineer fabrics created from nature’s building blocks. Rather than synthetic polymers, the materials are based on proteins or carbohydrates. Basically, materials you’d find created by a natural living organism, but we now have the ability to design and engineer them so they have additional performance properties that they couldn’t have in nature. We can also add a new aesthetic too, which is exciting for brands.
5) Anything else you’d like to add/say!?
Our bioleather materials in liquid form opens up a world of possibilities in how Zoa™ bioleather materials can be used – sprayed, poured, molded, you name it. We are still in the process of exploring all of its uses. Imagine marbled or sprayable leather – the possibilities are endless for what Zoa™ bioleather materials can do.
What do you think Zoa bioleather? Share your thoughts by tweeting us @Amberoot, or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
This article is part of series “Future of Fashion Series”: