Unique non-wasted leather bags are made from wine grapes

What do you get when you combine a waste product from winemaking, a designer concerned with sustainable development and a French leather goods maker? Not wasted.

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Unwasted is a collection of bags made from plant-based leather on a mission to make a statement or two. The process begins with Oddbird, Scandinavia’s largest craft wine producer. Grape marc is a by-product of this wine production. Specifically, these are the skins. Although these are organic materials, their quantity requires that they be recycled more productively.

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Two brown cylindrical figures placed on this same color fabric on a work table

Enter Planet of the Grapes, a French company that turns grape pomace into sheets of tough material.

“Once the grapes have been pressed to make wine, the grape skins are essentially waste,” said Sam Mureau of Planet of the Grapes. “The grape marc is harvested and dried under the beautiful Provençal sun. Once dry, it is reduced to powder. The powder is mixed with purely natural ingredients and turned into a liquid, which is then poured onto a fabric of natural stem fibers. Once the material has dried, the leather is ready for use and the lost grapes are reborn.

A brown container split in half.  One side has it open with a white box inside while the other side is flipped over so you only see the brown exterior.  They are both lying on a work table

On the other hand, the availability of this animal-free leather inspired Meng Du, a young Chinese designer from the Parsons School of Design in New York. The result of this collaboration is two bags for the Unwasted collection. The first, called the Merlot bag, looks like a crushed milk jug. In a statement, Du says it’s about “changing the meaning of what we otherwise think of as waste.” The second bag, called the Chardonnay bag, looks like a dented drink can.

Two brown gallon jugs rest on a work table

“I see myself more as a designer rather than a fashion-only medium,” Du explained. “This is where I can be most inventive on two topics that interest me the most, namely sustainability and minimal design. However, I will never impose my point of view on the question at hand. […] The audience for this type of product may be niche, but hopefully we’re moving toward long-term investments in something more meaningful than casual buying of fast fashion.

+ Meng Du

Photography by Meng Du and Osman Tahir