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Investments in next generation materials on the rise according to Material Innovation Initiative

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Material Innovation Initiative

A new State of the Industry report by the Material Innovation Initiative (MII) has stated that interest in next generation materials is continuing to grow, after it found that investments in the sector have risen to over 2.3 billion dollars since 2015.

Next generation materials, or ‘Next-Gen’, provide brands with animal-friendly alternatives to conventional materials, like leather, fur and exotic skins. Often, those producing Next-Gen materials utilise various biomimicry techniques to replicate animal-based textiles, which can be then implemented into the supply chain of different industries.

The popularity of Next-Gen methods has mostly risen due to consumer demand and the need for sustainably sourced materials, with investors reportedly piling on the trend in order to cement their place in the fast-growing industry.

According to MII, Next-Gen material producers have seen a total of 187 unique investors since 2015, while 55 new firms were formed since the start of 2014, raising the number of operating companies in the sector to 95. During that time, the top funded company raised a total amount of 863.6 million dollars.

980 million dollars raised in total during 2021

Out of the companies operating, Next-Gen leather appears to be the most popular, with 67 firms working on alternative versions of the material. Companies like Ananas Anam, Beyond Leather and Mink have each played a part in the material’s growth, through brand partnerships and scalable solutions that have allowed for alternative leather to gain international awareness.

Following behind leather, Next-Gen silk now has a total of 12 producers, while wool and fur have seven, down has six and exotic skins have one.

While the number of investment deals has not seen an increase, the MII reported that, in 2021, 980 million dollars was raised in total, double what was invested in 2020. The organisation said in its report that the industry can expect to see even bigger deal sizes as companies continue to mature and provide proof of concept.

Additionally, more and more brands are also getting in on the wave of Next-Gen materials. In its report, MII said 38 out of 40 leading fashion brands are actively searching for the textile alternatives, with a wide selection of fashion labels already counted among the organisation’s “First Mover” list.

Ganni, Pangaia, Karl Lagerfeld and Adidas are among the 150 highlighted by the MII for their already prominent work in the industry. Those selected are expected to increase revenue by exemplifying their positive effect on the environment and animals, the MII said, each coming complete with targets to lower their environmental impact and provide concrete opportunities for material innovators.

Circular Fashion
Material Innovation Initiative
Next gen materials
Supply Chain