Why we need next-gen materials
Animal-derived materials, particularly leather, are widely used in the fashion, automotive, and home goods industries. Production of animal-derived materials drives climate change, environmental degradation, public health risks, and animal cruelty. The current generation of alternatives – petroleum-derived synthetics – also comes with serious environmental and social concerns. We need more sustainable, next-gen alternatives with optimal aesthetics and performance. A broad ecosystem of innovators is rapidly growing to address this urgent need.
Our most recent State of the Industry Report covers the growth and investments in next-gen materials through the end of 2021. This report provides an overview of the key players involved, the driving forces accelerating material innovation, and latest investment data for next-gen materials.
Next-gen material innovation is increasing
Within the last eight years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of innovators. The market is still nascent with a total of 95 next-gen material companies. Of those, 67 focus on biomimicry of animal leather, 12 on silk, seven on wool, seven on fur, six on down, and one on exotic skins. The majority of the companies (55 out of the 95 total) were established after 2014, and ten have been established since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As more companies come into the space, the technology behind next-gen materials is diversifying. Plants or plant-derived materials have historically been the main input for leather alternatives, but recently more new companies are using mycelium and microbe-derived materials to create their next-gen leather in order to better replicate the performance and esthetic of animal-based leather. Across all material categories, we’re seeing increasing diversity of technology.
$2.3 billion has been invested in next-gen materials since 2015
We calculated that a total of $2.3 billion has been invested in next-gen materials since 2015, and the investment amount in 2021 more than doubled that in 2020. Even amid Covid-19, the capital invested in 2021 alone nearly equaled that of the previous 4 years combined.
We estimate the global wholesale market size for next-gen materials will be approximately 2.2 billion USD in 2026, representing a three percent share of an addressable market of over $70 billion.