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Bestseller and Kering invest in cell-grown leather creator VitroLabs

Camilla Rydzek
05 May 2022

Bestseller and Kering have invested in the Series A funding round of VitroLabs, a Californian start-up that is working to create the first pilot of cell cultivated leather.

The company was founded to to create high quality materials that meet the standards of the luxury industry while "drastically lowering environmental impact and furthering animal welfare."

One of the companies it works with is luxury Group Kering, which brings support for product quality testing, tanning, and finishing.

VitroLabs, which was founded in 2016, claims to be the first start-up able to bring cultivated leather to scale. The business says that it uses advanced tissue engineering processes to create cell cultivated animal leather from only a few animal cells, and that it has made progress on product quality.

Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as the venture capital firms Agronomics, Khosla Ventures have taken part in the funding round which amounted to £37.2 million. This will be used to fast-track commercialisation, with expansion of scientific, manufacturing, and business development teams.

Ingvar Helgason, VitroLabs CEO, commented: "At a time when environmental stewardship is more important than ever, biotech companies have the opportunity to lead the way in changing how we produce materials and build supply chains, working hand in hand with existing artisans and craftspeople who are the cornerstone of the $400 billion leather goods industry.

"There has been an explosion of companies that are developing alternative materials to leather. However at VitroLabs, our cultivated animal leather preserves the biological characteristics that the industry, craftsmen, and consumers know and love about leather, while eliminating the most environmentally and ethically detrimental aspects of the conventional leather manufacturing process associated with its sourcing."

Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at Kering said: "At Kering, a chapter/pillar of our sustainability roadmap is dedicated to sustainable innovation and actively looking for alternative materials that can reduce our environmental impact over the long term is part of the solutions we have been exploring for years. We believe that innovation is key to addressing the sustainability challenges that the luxury industry is facing, which is why we are very interested in the potential of biomaterials such as cultivated leather."

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