Every month, Fashion Technology Accelerator goes deep into the startup world to find up-and-coming interesting fashion tech players: we discover and bring to you the most innovative startups on the field. For this month, we’ve selected MyMantra. Our team will present the highlights, the best practices and peculiarities of selected companies, to spark and inspire the debate. Enjoy the reading, then!
The rise of new fabrics for fashion brands seems endless. Suppliers are trying to find interesting niches in ingenious ways, creating materials from starting points such as citrus juice byproducts or bamboo.
Leaving aside various concerns related to how sustainable they could be, as well as their appeal towards the end consumer, few companies have succeeded into properly communicating their value proposition and their first customers in a short amount of time.
Today, we talk about MyMantra, an Italian company that has created fabrics transforming material coming from ethically managed forests. Among these materials, the more revolutionary one is Ligneah, a soft wood which is extremely similar to leather – in FTA, we have seen it during our event on sustainability and we have been extremely surprised by the feel and touch of their shoes.
The company was created when Marcello Antonelli, a businessman and former executive of textile companies, and Marta Antonelli, fashion designer, specialized in fashion accessories and trend research, decided to replace animal skin. Given their love for animals and the necessity to reduce the impact of factory farming and tanning industry on the environment, they knew a change was needed.
As with most startups, the solution to this daunting challenge was not immediate. The inspiration came from the python, whose skin is composed by scales that cover its entire body. Why not try to apply a sequence of scales also to a rigid material, in order to make it softer? Still, that material needed to be eco-friendly, natural, biodegradable, cruelty free and glamorous.
The only material that covered all these prerequisites was wood, so the material Ligneah was created from thin sheets of wood, bonded to a fabric through an environmental-friendly adhesive. Moreover, wooden sheets are micro laser etched, ensuring softness and pliability to better mirror leather. After the first promising tests in a small R&D laboratory, the company is currently working to industrialize its production in order to cover the rising demand.
MyMantra expanded its operations after participating in major trade fairs in the leather industry, developing a strong presence that sparked interest around their innovative solution. The material has various degrees and sectors of applications, so they created a small brand of fashion accessories called OOD to properly show the diversity and value of their value proposition. Publications in major magazine and newspapers was also pivotal to increase the international appeal of the company.
Many sectors could benefit from their products, including automotive and interior design beyond fashion. This is a compelling phase for the company, which must face the new challenges of becoming an enterprise after 4 years of development. The need for sustainable fabrics, which also embed positive messages for consumers, is more relevant than ever and the choice of wood is uncommon and full of significance. Tradition and technology must work together, allowing the company to properly position Ligneah as a material with no equivalents on the market considering its numerous features.
Among the possibilities, Ligneah could be employed for partial replacement of animal leather, as well as plastic. In this way, the production lines will not require to be changed lowering the investment needed to make any company more sustainable. Ligneah could also be used to create additional product lines, as well as finding new applications in industries that are not being targeted yet.
The attention of consumers towards more sustainable fabrics is rapidly rising and fashion brands are adapting to this new, widespread trend. We have seen the prosiming development of MyMantra, now on the verge of industrialization and already actively collaborating with various fashion companies.
How will the world of fabrics change in the next future? Will we see a shift more towards sustainability or smart textiles?
Let’s wait and see.