Italian fashion house Gucci, part of the French luxury goods group Kering, announced the launch of a new sustainable animal-free, plant-based material known as Demetra, which it plans to make open to competitors next year.

Demetra, named for the Greek goddess of harvest and agriculture, is the result of two years of inhouse research and development. The material was produced in Gucci’s factories with Gruppo Colonna, a Tuscany-based group of tanneries in which Gucci owns a 51 percent stake.

According to Gucci, Demetra can be used in all product categories, including footwear, accessories, handbags and clothing. The material is both flexible and resistant, with a soft and “luxurious” finish, the company said.

Demetra is made with up to 77 percent plant-based materials, including viscose and wood pulp compounds sourced from sustainably managed forests, and biobased polyurethane sourced from non-genetically modified wheat and corn. While Demetra still uses some synthetic components, Gucci said these were kept to a minimum and it is looking to substitute them with more sustainable alternatives.

The new material is making its debut on three sneaker models - Gucci Basket, Gucci New Ace and Gucci Rhyton - which each retail for a price of €590 to €790. Gucci New Ace and Gucci Rhyton are already on the market, with the Gucci Basket to launch June 18.

Gucci said it would first make the new material, for which it has filed to patent and trademark, to other Kering brands before marketing it more widely to the industry at the start of 2022. Compared to many other alternative materials, Gucci said there are no limits to volumes or scalability “thanks to the combination of existing and widely available raw materials with a tanning process already widely available in the industry.”

Boosting the sustainability credentials of the new material, Demetra scraps from the production process will be recycled and reused by Gucci, through an extension of its upcycling program Gucci-Up.

“With Demetra, we provide our industry with an alternative material, easily scalable and more sustainable, which also responds to demand for animal-free solutions,” said Mauro Bizzarri, CEO of Gucci.