While our journey to discover the best materials for our collections will be an ongoing one, our number one focus is to challenge the fashion paradigm that animal products are essential for the design process. Here is where we are at now:
Considered to be a highly resilient, flexible and durable material, Polyurethane (PU) is a polymer, used as a coating to give textiles a wide variety of properties including the ability to be water-resistant and anti-bacterial.
Invented in the late 1930s as a potential replacement for rubber (which was in short supply post WWI), PU has become a prolific material in everyday life.
We are not chemistry experts, but from the research we’ve undertaken, it seems that not all PUs are created equal. The PUs we sought when building our raw material repertoire, were NIPUs (non-isocyanate PUs). They’re called eco-friendly (Eco-PU) because they are not using toxic levels of chemicals to make them. They adhere to the stringent chemical standards of REACH & Prop65 (the Californian Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986).
We use both acrylic and cellulosic acetate in trims & charms in our collections. Acrylic is a plastic, and was developed in the 1920s, as a shatterproof alternative to glass. Other names for acrylic - Plexiglas, Acrylite, Perspex & Lucite – are all trademarked names. Acrylic is thermoplastic & becomes malleable under high heat, as a result, we are able to mould it into shapes such as our distinctive luggage handle.
Cellulosic acetate was created in the late 1800s & refined further in the early 20th century, cellulosic acetate has a long winded construction, but in simple terms – it’s a combination of wood pulp (the cellulosic part) & a mixed bag of chemical compounds. It offers transparency, a beautiful colour spectrum, flexibility & is hypoallergenic. It’s been utilised for film, fabric, lacquer & eyewear over the years.
Used for its strength and durability, alloy is a metallic substance made by mixing two or more metals (or a metal and nonmetal), to obtain desirable qualities such as hardness, lightness and strength.
Our custom hardware is made from zinc alloy and then plated in a variety of tones depending on the item we are trimming.
Our SANS BEAST studio in Melbourne, Australia, is where we sketch, design, wear test and generally obsess over our collections. Each item is then sampled & produced by our long standing manufacturing partners in Dongguan, Southern China.
The founder of our brand has worked with leather for over a decade & made the change to non animal materials, through research, education & an ethical wake up call. Leather is the material made from animal skins that have been tanned. Hair, fat & flesh has to be removed, generally with chemicals & (lots of) water, and then the tanning of the skins takes place, with more chemicals & water & sometimes other animal parts (for example, brain tanning). Just like human skin, the quality of an animals’ skin, is related to how the animal has lived its' life. Scratches, bites, whip marks & scarring are often still evident after the animal has been slaughtered & the tanning process has started.
Man made pigments can cover these marks successfully, depending on the requirements of the customer, and varying degrees of softness or rigidity, matte or shine, texture or silken touch, can also be achieved through a variety of techniques. It’s a labour intensive process, and visiting a tannery is not an indication of the life an animal has lived, nor how it has been slaughtered - these factors all took place well before the ‘hides’ arrived at the tannery. Tracing provenance of leather, from farm to fashion, is a complex, challenging & for many designers & retailers, impossible process.
There is some great information to read in this Pulse of the Industry report also (check out page 77), regarding the environmental impact of leather - cow leather rates poorly compared to synthetic 'leather', so we believe there are many reasons to go Sans Beast in your fashion choices.
Many attest that leather is a by-product of the meat industry. In fact, it’s often worth more than the meat of the animal, so we believe it’s safer to say, it’s a co-product. Here's a rundown of all the co-products that come from industrially farmed animals, that allow connected businesses to flourish. In addition, due to the commercial drive of the animal agriculture industries, the breeding, raising, slaughtering, marketing & consumption of animals, continues to grow. Suggesting that by-products are a 'happy coincidence' is disingenuous to say the least. Animal slaughter numbers sit anywhere between 50 billion & 150 billion per annum, so yes, there are hides from these kills that support another huge business; fashion. Even if you don't care about animal welfare (or want to ignore the issues in this space) - most people DO care about the environment + their health. An insightful book to read, is Farmageddonby Philip Lymbery + Isabel Oakshotte.