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Science fiction influences shape the future of leather

By Jackie Mallon


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Science fiction is a tool for ambitious thinkers. This was the message running through the leather trend presentation at Lineapelle in NYC last week. But just as science fiction is difficult to define, ambiguity is omnipresent in trend forecasting with references to science, technology, AI and human exploration, and the enormous global uncertainty touching every facet of our industry. We are recalibrating, moving into unknown territory, rejecting the past yet pointed towards a future that is unclear.

We are the Timothée Chalamet character in Dune, heirs to a legacy but one which comes with enormous obligations and struggle. Color palettes for fall 2023 feature neutrals—beige, sand, concrete—elevated with shades of tamarind, coriander, nutmeg, caraway, turmeric, chili and cardamon, indeed the spice at the center of Dune's conflict, the substance necessary to give users vitality and power which has caused the war in the desert planet of Arrakis. Verdant tones mixed with moody and glacial blues close out the palette and suggest better days to come.

There is perhaps no other apparel material more representative of the struggle in this not-always-hospitable landscape than leather. A creature is terminated and its skin harvested to provide us with this luxury material yet we were also being told throughout the presentation that nothing is obsolete; nothing is destroyed; everything is transformed and designed to be reused.

Ethics and Ingenuity

Fashion must be in constant motion and everything is fluid so there is an acceptance of this superficial harmony. Science fiction is speculative and dependent on human imagination. Our constant scrolling must have content and there is freedom and possibility in that. But while science fiction often creates a sense of wonder, there is a general feeling of having been here before. We will click Like anyway, because we must in order to advance.

Ethics and Research are constant bedfellows. Undyed, natural materials which save water, energy and reduce pollution are key but have been around for seasons. Extraneous steps will now be removed from the manufacturing processes while technology ensures that we will not lose essential elements. Glues, for example, will be replaced by technology that molds a garment together in a single step. Leathers will be augmented with technology for increased performance.


For Fall 23 we will be revisiting heritage and exploring our archives but applying modern know-how and cutting edge technology. Chanel-style tweeds, for example, will be repurposed, and embroideries and jacquards manufactured with less operations. Artisanal crafts and traditions from around the world will be discovered by the younger generations. Shiny, cozy and padded will exist together, for example, in one oversized jacket molded from luxury lightweight nappa and elevated with an eco-friendly dewy sheen.

In the “Reptilarium”, alligator and snakeskin effects will be achieved with visionary print treatments. In this world, neither new, nor old, possibility is endless and hybrids are ubiquitous. We’re starting anew at zero and science and technology define the terms of collaboration, cooperation and coexistence we need to succeed.



As reality and the virtual overlap, we enter a hyperreality. Pretty but subversive fabrics emerge that evoke cellular structures glimpsed under the microscope or beautifully colored micro pixels—perhaps shadows of our shared pandemic experience and too much time sitting in front of screens.

“I want to be perfect and unique. Like everyone else.” We enjoy templates, filters, backgrounds that hide our messy lives on zoom, but we still value a sense of individuality. In this vein, next fall will see classics imbued with novelty.

The traditional romance of the open road has been replaced by the mysterious call of navigating a foreign landscape. We are time acrobats, responding to blurry sounds and vibrations, glimpsing visions of the future, just enough to keep us going. Innovations have only just begun and we need new words to define these new concepts.

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