By the end of the year, scientists will have grown a piece of leather .787 inches by .787 inches in size, without killing an animal. That is the goal of a company called Modern Meadow, Fast Company reports, and its lab-grown leather could one day be even better than the dead-animal hides that we still wear around even though (or, really, because) polyester exists in the world.
The company is interested in creating lab-grown leather that’s identical to the “real” thing, but also in improving upon what already exists. “At this point, the goal is to create products that are both biomimetic–very, very similar to real leather–and also to look at ways that we can improve upon it and make products that are superior to traditional leather,” explains [CEO Andras] Forgacs. Modern Meadow could make leather with better durability, breathability, and elasticity, for example, depending on what consumers want.
Making the leather still involves stealing biological resources: That tiny piece of lab-grown leather started as a biopsy from a real, live animal. So it’s not vegan, and given the resources involved, it may not be any cheaper than animal leather. But it avoids toxic dye processes and reduces waste (currently, 20 percent of leather is discarded as scraps). And most important: Finally, no creature will need to die for you to get your assless chaps. Thanks, science!