THE PURPOSE OF LOST GRAPES
Planet of the Grapes
IN ORDER TO FUTURE PROOF WINEMAKING, WE HAVE BEEN QUESTIONING THE LIFECYCLE AND PRODUCTION OF OUR WINES. IN THIS ENDEAVOUR WE SEE MANY OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME.
BUT IN CHALLENGES OPPORTUNITIES ARE BORN. UNWASTED AND OUR COLLABORATION WITH MENG DU AND PLANET OF THE GRAPES, IS ONE OF THOSE.
NEXT GENERATION LEATHER
Grape marc is the byproduct of the approximately 290 million hectoliters of wine that is produced globally every year. Today, large amounts of the remaining grape marc are wasted and not used in a valuable way.
Meanwhile, the fashion industry is turning animal skin into leather. Leather tanneries and dying facilities require enormous amounts of energy and emit chemical waste from dyes and toxic surface treatments. Synthetic leather uses large amounts of petrolium based PVC and non planet friendly chemicals in the production. Materials production today contributes to 38% of greenhouse gas emissions.
This collaboration overarches two industries to make two cons into a pro; making use of the product from wine production to create the next generation vegan leather.
UNWASTED. ART WITH A PURPOSE.
“Unwasted is a grape leather bag produced from leftover grape marc from our vineyards. It’s a result of the process of experimenting through winemaking to optimize our use of resources. We hope it will inspire cross-industry collaboration and change the meaning of what we otherwise consider waste.”
– Ylva Nestmark, Brand Director at Oddbird
The bag is designed by Meng Du, a young designer from Parsons School of Design, New York – who has been highlighted in international Vogue among others, for her work with sustainable design and virtual concept design adapted for metaverse.
“I see myself more like a designer rather than one concerned only with fashion as a medium. It is there that I can be the most inventive about two issues that interest me the most, namely sustainability and minimal design. Yet, I will never impose my view on the matter at hand. The ideal product is one that the essence of which has been reduced to perfection for its user. Then, what is left for me to do is to get out of the way so that people can interpret the product any way they want. The audience interested in this kind of product may be niche, but hopefully we are moving towards making long-term investments in something more meaningful than the casual fast fashion purchase.”
– Meng Du, designer
Ironically, junk was the source of inspiration for the design. The shape of the bags are inspired by a squashed plastic milk carton that Meng Du found on the road.
“I found that when recycling these used plastic milk cartons, or beverage cans, they are almost always squashed and have a dent in them. I thought this shape was really interesting, so when I made the bags I deliberately designed them to look as if they were squashed and had a dent. To me, when altering a perfect shape into irregularity, it becomes interesting and unique. Just because something isn’t new or perfect, it doesn’t lose its value as some of our society seem to think. On the contrary its value is rather increased with a previous existence.”
– Meng Du, designer
Meng Du reflects on the various dimensions of the design. “In fact, many things appear to be hidden in this project. Including the appearance of this bag. It looks like it’s a milk carton – but it’s really a bag. The material looks like it’s leather – but it’s actually made of grape skins. To me this applies even to the idea of wine liberated from alcohol – it may seem just like a wine with ethanol – but it’s a Trojan horse of health. That’s why I named this project Incognito – what you see is not always what you get.
The process of making the wine leather is a lengthy one and requires great craftsmanship. The end product is a unique and a natural material, free from fossil fuel based plastics and one that is respectful to the planet.
Sam Mureau at Planet of the Grapes describes the process: “Once the grapes have been pressed to make the wine, the grape skins are essentially waste. The grape marc is collected and dried out under the beautiful Provencal sunlight. Once dry it’s ground into a powder. The powder is blended with some purely natural ingredients and turned into a liquid, which is then poured onto a fabric of natural stem fibres. Once the material is left to dry, the leather is ready to use and the lost grapes are reborn.”
A challenge going forward is finding a partner within the fashion industry for collecting Oddbird’s grape marc at a bigger scale, and putting the grape leather into larger production.
The bag collection was showcased in Decentraland the 24th of February 2022.
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
Unwasted will be available for pre-orders for delivery later in 2022.
ABOUT MENG DU
Meng Du is a designer originating from Beijing and a graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York. She was nominated as Fashion Future Graduates by the CFDA in 2020. Her graduate work about sustainable design and metaverse virtual concept design was published in International VOGUE. She appreciates the ability to be free within the field, and often implements disruptive ideas in her designs. She sees herself more like a designer rather than one concerned only with fashion as a medium. It is there that she can be the most inventive about the two issues that interest her the most – sustainability and minimal design. She believes in democratizing design and that the ideal product is one where the essence has been reduced to the perfection of its user. She sees her work as adaptable to the influences of culture and time, with the purpose to touch people with inspiration and comfort.
ABOUT PLANET OF THE GRAPES
Planet of the Grapes was founded by Sam Mureau out of an interest for sustainability and the purpose for fashion to do more good than damage. With a background in fashion in London Sam moved to Aix en Provence in France and started teaching students in local Universities about fashion and sustainability. Living close to a vineyard she started taking care of the grape marc and experimenting with a new type of leather. Today she is driving a new fabric forward into the fashion industry that is made from local grape waste, inspiring both students and piers in the industry on a new way forward.