A vegan startup which sells handbags made out of an innovative apple leather material will attend a hearing at Hanover Regional Court tomorrow.
German-based brand NUUWAI was recently issued a ‘cease and desist’ letter by the German Leather Federation (VDL). The Federation claims the terms’ apple leather’ and ‘vegan leather’, as used on NUUWAI’s website, are ‘misleading’ and ‘anti-competitive’.
Its letter follows similar wranglings by the meat and dairy industries in Europe and the US, which want plant-based producers to stop using traditional animal food nomenclatures for vegan items.
Growth of vegan leather market
The vegan fashion industry is growing, with its worth projected to reach $85 billion within the next five years, according to a report by business consulting firm Grand View Research [GVR].
Increasingly innovative materials are being used to create leather alternatives, including cork, apple, pineapple, and old coffee grains.
In addition, consumers are becoming more aware of the provenance of animal-derived fabrics, and their impact on animal welfare as well as sustainability.
A recent study by NEONYT shows that customers care more than ever about ethics and transparency, saying: “Roughly 70 percent of respondents say that sustainability plays a role when shopping for clothing. 10 percent even say it depends on whether they actually buy a piece of clothing or not.”
NUUWAI believes these changes in the leather market as well as growing consumer awareness have provoked the VDL into action, though the company is unsure why it has been targeted, as many others use the same terminology.
“We feel like David against Goliath,” said Svenja Detto, founder of NUUWAI. “Much larger companies use the term ‘apple leather’.
“Apparently the German Leather Federation wants to ‘set an example’ for us as a startup, however, we will fight to continue using the terms.”
NUUWAI will appear at the court hearing on August 20, at the Hanover Regional Court, supported by PETA Germany.
Plant Based News has contacted the German Leather Federation for comment.