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First vegan bag maker starts in Germany

By Simone Preuss


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Vegan hand bags by Melina Bucher. Credits: Elmar Witt

German label Melina Bucher has recently opened its own master bag maker's workshop. What is remarkable about this is that it specialises entirely in vegan and bio-based materials.

The term “bag maker” refers to people who specialise in working with leather, which traditionally means animal leather. At Melina Bucher, however, traditional craftsmanship is combined with pioneering technologies and the workshop uses new, vegan materials instead of animal leather.

In Germany, there are still only few companies that offer apprenticeships in this craft, and as yet none that specialise in vegan and bio-based materials.

Melina Bucher combines tradition with innovation

Melina Bucher is revitalising the craft and offering young people a new perspective with flexible and modern working methods to incorporate their values into their work. “We are lucky that many young people apply who have learnt this trade and want to make a difference,” explains Melina Bucher in a press release.

Fascination with the craft and technical perfection are at the centre of the work. “It is great to see how the use of sustainable materials makes work more valuable again,” says Judith Lein, master bag maker at Melina Bucher.

In the past, the German label has worked with partner manufacturers in Spain in particular. After years of research and development, it was the first brand in the world to launch a handle bag made from the 100 percent plastic-free material Mirum.

“The demand was enormous, and not just from customers. Start-ups specialising in material development also approached us with great interest,” says Melina Bucher. However, the various development projects associated with this diverse demand could hardly be realised with traditional manufacturing companies. “So it was the next logical step was to set up our own workshop,” says the label.

Vegan material innovations instead of leather

Designers and master bag makers work hand in hand with scientists from all over the world at the workshop in Mannheim. They test new material innovations and also develop in-house components.

"The leather industry has some catching up to do when it comes to sustainability. Most of the components in a bag are not recyclable. We are actively working on solutions here," explains the founder.

In addition to manufacturing its own products by hand, the company also creates customised products according to customers' wishes and enables product development for B2B customers.

Thanks to the expertise gained over the years in dealing with bio-based materials, the label knows that these are not plug-and-play solutions - they also require new processing solutions.

“Many projects have failed in recent years because brands either didn't have the time or the knowledge to carry out this development work. Conversely, innovators often don't know how the materials are processed into a product in the first place,” reveals Melina Bucher.

Also read:

Melina Bucher
Sustainable Fashion
Textile Innovations