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In Picture: Ecco launches translucent & waterproof leather

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - The future of leather is closer than you think. Scientists are busy developing techniques to grow leather in labs using stem cells, new leathers ranging from pineapple to fish to mushroom are springing up and a number of synthetic leathers hitting the market are virtually identical to the real deal. Now Ecco Leather, the tannery owned by the Danish company, has unveiled its latest leather innovation which takes the material to the next level - Apparition.

Ecco debuts world's first waterproof and transparent leather: Apparition

Named for its spectral quality, the soft, pliable calf leather is a world's first as it is both translucent and waterproof, as well as strong and workable. Although it was previously possible to create transparent leather using sheep and goat skin, the resulting leather was very stiff and unable to get wet. Now after three years of work, a small team of Ecco leather innovators has managed to create a leather which is both see-through and waterproof by combining old Egyptian and Greek tanning techniques with modern industrial applications.

The resulting leather, Apparition, was developed after three years of work and can be cut and sewn without tearing or falling apart. The leather is not oiled or dehydrated by is soft and matte. Sruli Recht was in search of a leather which could be used to make outdoor garments - one which was both translucent, yet still soft to the touch and workable. Credits: Ecco Leather

"The technique of keeping the leather soft, is obviously a trade secret," says Sruli Recht, creative director and lead of the Ecco Leather project. "It came out of the challenge of rethinking leather aesthetics in terms of both visual and touch properties. We asked ourselves: ‘What would be the Holy Grail of leather?’ I would say it would be creating a futuristic material that still maintains the properties that we know, love, and requires from leather. So the aim became translucent leather."

While the garments and shoes, specially designed by Sruli Recht, are based on natural amber, transparent green, black, brown-orange, bone and blood red, any colour is theoretically possible. The 1/1 Apparition sneaker was designed by Sruli Recht to showcase the new leather, which is why it lacks other distracting elements such as logos, laces or hardware. Credits: Ecco Leather

"We have been deeply inspired by what other designers and tanneries have achieved in the realm of transparent and translucent leathers over recent years. But our aim was to identify concrete ways we could combine our deep tanning experience with the significant horsepower of our state-of-the-art R&D facility in the Netherlands to push the technology forward, solving practical issues that have eluded the industry up-to-now like lasting pliability and the ability to get wet."

The leather was named Apparition for its almost ghostlike appearance and initially used to design outerwear garments and shoes. "This leather is an evolution. Where we have begun with coats and shoes, we can go to translucent furniture and all the way across the board to things we don’t yet know. I would be lying if I didn’t want to keep this material exclusively for myself, but it really is a material larger than any one designer," said Sruli Recht in an interview with High Snobiety.Credits: Ecco Leather

In addition to being transparent, flexible and waterproof Apparition leather is also visually different from regular leather. Rather than laying smooth and flat like many animal skins, Apparition is wrinkled and crinkled. "The process of creating a new material, a new class of leather even, is to develop it into objects and show what it can do, and then present it as a narrative: how it moves, how it flows, how it bends, how it feels," added Recht.

Apparition is currently available in a range of rich and light controlled colors and can be used to make nearly any type of garment, ranging from handbags to shoes and jackets. Since unveiling Apparition earlier this month, Ecco has received a flood of interest from a number of parties. But the brand is still looking to develop the leather even further to ensure it reaches its full potential.

Ecco Leather