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March 26, 2017

WOULD YOU WEAR HUMAN LEATHER?

I recently happened to see a feature on how someone plans to turn the DNA of the great fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s into leather goods. The designer behind this, Tina Gorjanc, a student at Central Saint Martins in London, plans to extract the genetic material and harvest the cells into skin tissue. It took me a while to wrap my brain around it but it did make me curious about the technology.

I was initially really grossed out by the idea (I mean, human leather?!?! WTH?!?!) till I read some of the comments pointing out the fact that it is lab grown. It wasn’t stripped off a dead person, no one was harmed in the process and the concept isn’t really that different from other synthetic leather material out in the market. I guess on some level that kind of reasoning makes sense.

I’m sure the debate on whether this kind of technology should continue will go on for a very long time because, let’s face it, “human leather” just sounds appalling. But, while the debate continues, we can’t deny that there is a very curious (albeit small) market that just can’t wait to get their hands on these kinds of products.

There are people who are really drawn to the “exotic” and those who want to take things to the next level.

One company that caters to that market is humanleather.co.uk. I came across their website while doing research on synthetic human leather but this company doesn’t use synthetic human leather—they use real human skin (yup, you read that right, real human skin.). They source the skin from normal everyday people. People give them their skin when they die. I guess it’s just like organ donation since skin is the largest organ of the body with an average area of about 20 square feet except that this is purely for vanity and not at all to save someone else’s life.

They don’t have pictures on the website so I can’t really show you what actual processed human skin looks like (photos above are just samples from Tina Gorjac’s collection made from pig skin of what synthetic human leather can look like). However, they do have a listing of bespoke products. A human leather wallet starts at around $14,000 USD or P 700,000, a human leather belt starts around $15,750 USD or P787,500 and human leather shoes starts at around $27,000 USD or P1,350,000. I totally get the prices on these products (it is human skin, after all) but I don’t get who would be creepy enough to order these products. I guess it would have to be someone who had so much money and didn’t know what to do with it or just a complete bizzaro who doesn’t mind wearing some dead person’s skin.

I think the synthetic human leather is something that people could maybe consider but real human skin is just too disturbing for me. For medical purposes, sure—but for fashion?!? Really??? It’s just too weird.

 

Photos from Kottke.Org and Dezeen

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