Flyleather: a lighter leather material made from recycled leather

One problem with natural leather is that because no animal hide is perfectly square or round, over 15 per cent of a cow’s hide is discarded, usually ending up on the landfill. Sports equipment manufacturer Nike uses this discarded leather scrap to make a new lightweight leather-like material called Flyleather that has a much lower carbon footprint than natural leather.

Nike’s new leather material is made with at least 50 per cent recycled natural leather, which is turned into fibres. Combining the leather fibres with synthetic ones, Flyleather is made using a fabric infrastructure via a hydro process with a force so strong that it fuses everything into one material. Finally, the material is finished, which can include things like pigmentation.

According to the company, the new material looks, feels and smells like premium leather. And, unlike natural leather, Flyleather can be produced with a consistent grade across a broader range of product.

Creating the new material uses up 90 per cent less water and has an 80 per cent lower carbon footprint than traditional leather manufacturing. Because it is produced on a roll, it can be cut more efficiently than traditional methods for leather.

Aside from the environmental benefits, the new leather material also has advantages in the world of sport. It is 40 per cent lighter than natural leather, and 5 times as durable. Nike has released several shoes made of Flyleather, some in a limited edition that you can win (for US residents only).

Photos: Nike