Following in the eco-friendly footsteps of Adidas and Hermès, Gucci has debuted its own leather alternative sneakers — but instead of using mycelium, a mushroom-based material, the Italian luxury label has created an entirely new textile exclusive to Gucci. Called Demetra, the material is composed of 77 percent plant-based raw materials, according to the brand.
Perfected over the past two years, Demetra is produced using Gucci’s own leather tanning procedures, offering customers a similar leather experience in terms of aesthetics, feel, and quality. The luxury brand expects to incorporate the material into shoes, bags, accessories, and apparel — but only its own in-house products. Through patents and trademarks, Gucci has ensured that Demetra is exclusive to its products, but by 2022, the label expects to share its material with other brands.
Do Gucci’s consumers care about sustainability? — For now though, the exclusivity of Demetra is an important marketing factor. Leather has been synonymous with luxury for decades, and consumers may not be open to spending obscene amounts of money on something plant-based — that is, unless the product is exclusive and made in limited quantities.
In that case, Gucci’s products don't necessarily have to be sustainable, which is good news as we’re not sure Demetra is entirely so. Although Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci, told WWD that Demetra offers “an easily scalable, alternative choice and a more sustainable material that also answers the needs of animal-free solutions,” the company hasn’t elaborated on just how the material is sustainable.
A 77 percent makeup of plant-based raw materials begs us to ask what the remaining 23 percent of Demetra is made out of. So far, Gucci has only said the material includes “bio-based polyurethane,” viscose, and sustainably sourced wood compounds — keeping details quiet for exclusivity or other, more sinister reasons.
Shop Demetra sneakers — For now, Gucci has kicked off its eco-friendly initiative by introducing a new sneaker silhouette made out of Demetra. Dubbed the Basket sneaker, the chunky high top takes inspiration from retro basketball shoes by implementing a thick tongue, stitched overlays, and ’80s-esque neon colors. Large Gucci branding hits the tongue in highlighter pink, while the sneaker’s white base is contrasted by hits of teal, yellow, and royal blue.
Those looking to make less of a statement can turn to Gucci’s Rhyton or New Ace sneakers, which also adopt the use of Demetra. Taking on a more simple look, the sneakers opt for two-tone color schemes and Gucci branding, of course.
The Demetra Rhyton and New Ace styles are available on Gucci’s website and are expected to arrive in-store momentarily. As a new member of Gucci’s footwear, the Basket will be harder to obtain — the model isn’t yet available online, and has only launched in select Gucci stores. As Gucci seeks to cash in on Demetra before sharing it with other brands, however, we’re sure to see the plant-based material become more accessible.