Published by Michelle Reynolds.

You’ve heard of lab-grown meat, but what about lab-grown leather? It’s real, and it’s almost here. PETA got a look at this revolutionary new material from Modern Meadow, the biofabrication company that refuses to accept the notion that real cowskin can only be grown on real cows.

Modern Meadow presented a shirt made from biofabricated leather at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the museum’s first exhibit devoted to fashion since 1944, it showcased clothing and accessories that “have had a profound impact on global culture.”  Modern Meadow’s creation certainly qualifies.

lab grown leather shirt, modern meadow, exhibit at Museum of Modern Art© Adam Fithers

modern meadow, lab grown leather shirt, museum of modern art exhibit© Sara Kinney

The process is similar to the one that other biotech companies are using to produce lab-grown meat. A team of designers, scientists, and engineers grow collagen from yeast cells through a process of DNA editing. They can manipulate the liquid collagen into many forms, including into sheets, and then finish it with a more simplified and eco-friendly tanning process.

modern meadow, lab grown leather, design team in the lab© Adam Fithers

As Modern Meadow explains, “Our biofabricated leather materials deliver properties unachievable from an animal hide. ‘Tunable’ materials that are lighter, stronger, thinner, or with unique new textures.”

modern meadow, lab grown leather, close-ups© Modern Meadow

It’s leather—but better. It’s also sparing countless cows and other animals a lifetime of cruelty.

“We believe in a future where animal products are animal-free.”

In the U.S., many of the millions of cows and other animals who are killed for their skin endure the horrors of factory farming: extreme crowding and deprivation, as well as castration, branding, tail-docking, and dehorning—all without any painkillers. At slaughterhouses, animals’ throats are routinely cut and some are even skinned and dismembered while they’re still conscious. Like Modern Meadow, we look forward to a future in which sentient beings are no longer killed just because humans want to use their skin for fashion.

modern meadow, lab grown leather, museum of modern art exhibit© Sara Kinney

And this material is also substantially kinder to the planet. The company’s process reduces waste by 80 percent and slashes the amount of land, water, and energy needed as well as the amount of chemicals required for tanning.

Modern Meadow is currently partnering with consumer-products companies to release lab-grown versions of their leather products by 2018.

“There are those who wish the world was different, and those who work to change it every day.”

Wish the world were different? Become a PETA member for just $16 a year and help us work to change it every day.

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