Designers of all kinds just love leather, whether in theory or in practice. Genuine leather is naturally warm and soft to the touch, generating pleasant sensations on our skins and in our brains. It also ages gracefully, developing scuffs and patina that are unique to each product and largely depend on how it has been used. For all these desirable traits, leather is still controversial because of its source, and current alternatives aren’t completely free from sin either. That’s where Bellroy’s latest eco-friendly wallet comes in, making a rather bold statement that tries to push plant-based leather into a completely sustainable and circular future.
Simply looking at the new Bellroy Slim Sleeve “MIRUM Edition” wouldn’t clue you in that it isn’t using genuine leather. It looks and presumably feels like the real thing, especially considering the brand has built its name and its business around high-quality leather. To deviate from this path is almost heresy for Bellroy, but it admits that it also has a bigger responsibility to ensure the longevity of the planet while not compromising the quality of its products.
The problem is that the current stock of “vegan leather” carries an almost deceptive image. While it is true that it doesn’t source the material from animal skin, it actually also does damage to the environment in the long run. Most of these “pleather” materials do use some amount of plant materials, but they’re always mixed with plastics, often polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (vinyl or PVC), which are derived from petroleum. Even the very processes used to manufacture these leather alternatives can cause harm to the environment.
It’s because of this that Bellroy partnered with Natural Fiber Welding to utilize its new MIRUM material, which is 100% made from natural inputs, with no plastics or toxic chemicals involved. It utilizes the natural chemistry of these natural substances to create a material that is a dead knocker for genuine leather. Even better, the material doesn’t become plastic pollution and can be recycled or decomposed into something that will feed the plants that, in turn, will become future MIRUM leather.
The problem with many alternative leathers, including those vegan leathers, is that they are unable to faithfully recreate the look, feel, and unique traits of genuine leather. Bellroy’s use of MIRUM is pretty much a big stamp of approval for the material as enough to pass up as the real deal. The accessory brand is so confident in it that it is even offering its typical three-year warranty for a plant-based leather that might still sound experimental for many designers.
As for the wallet itself, the Bellroy Slim Sleeve MIRUM Edition includes cotton lining to protect cards and is stitched with cotton threads. There’s room for easy access to two cards, but there’s also a pull tab that reveals infrequently used plastics. The slim and small profile makes it convenient to quickly slip in and out of pockets, which you might find yourself often doing just to enjoy the feel of this guilt-free material.