Leather – The Natural Choice For A Restored Car Interior

In Article2 Minutes

Month: April 2022

Leather Naturally reports on a unique car restoration project from Italy, in which a very special car received a very distinctive makeover.

The car in question is a magnificent 1930 Lancia Dilambda, which had originally been owned by the eccentric Sir Bernard Montgomery Hall. He had customised every detail of this most elegant car but, beyond 1949, it appeared lost until a car collector rediscovered it seven decades later and set about restoring it to its former glory.

For the interior, leather – of course – was the natural choice as it is in keeping with the authenticity of the car. Alternatives to leather just would not do. The new owner asked the luxury leather goods maker Serapian to take on the project. The Serapian family have been crafting car leathers in Milan since Stepan Serapian, an Armenian exile, founded his first shop there in 1928.

They used their signature ‘mosaic craft’ technique of weaving very fine leathers to create a beautiful textured pattern for the seats. Just for good measure, they made matching bags because – well, why not?

While restoring a vintage car with Milanese leather is beyond most people’s experience, the appeal of automotive leather remains strong for many motorists. It’s not a question of luxury, either, but a matter of practicality. The properties of leather are well known: it’s hardwearing and durable as well as soft and comfortable. Even retrofitting a relatively modern car with leather seats can also enhance its resale value, so it’s far from eccentric to do so!

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    How Changing Cattle Feed Cuts Leather’s Carbon Footprint

    In Fact, Article3 Minutes

    Month: April 2022

    Although leather is simply a by-product of the meat industry, its critics often draw a direct connection between its production and the environmental impact of raising cattle. One of the key factors here is the production of soybeans used as cattle feed. Soybean production is regularly cited as being detrimental to the environment due to the pesticides used and possible deforestation to clear land for its cultivation.

    Measuring leather’s environmental impact

    Under the PEFCR (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules) – agreed between leather manufacturers represented by COTANCE, national governments and the European Commission – the impact of cattle rearing is now indeed taken into account when measuring the carbon footprint of leather up to the point of sale (‘cradle to gate’). As a biodegradable material with long usable life, leather also outperforms many alternatives (including ‘vegan leather’) when it comes to a whole lifetime assessment – although this is not specifically covered by the PEFCR. Alternatives may not be as durable as leather and often contain plastics that are highly damaging to the environment in the long term.

    Still, anything that can reduce the environmental impact of cattle rearing is to be welcomed to further enhance leather’s sustainability credentials. One area being explored is the use of alternative animal feeds to reduce the dependency on crops like soybeans while maintaining animal welfare.

    More sustainable cattle feed

    An article in Planet of Plenty describes 5 eco-friendly alternative protein sources for animal feed “which are allowing farmers to increase their output and performance while protecting the world around us.” The new food sources include insects, earthworms, seaweed & microalgae, pea protein and single-cell protein. Insects, in particular, are a rich source of protein and can be reared with a relatively small carbon footprint. Seaweed and microalgae can be used to significantly reduce a cow’s methane output. Methane is a GHG (greenhouse gas) which, although less damaging than CO2 since it lasts only about ten years in the atmosphere, contributes to global warming, so any means of limiting emissions is good news.

    Allowing farmers to increase their output and performance while protecting the world around us

    Healthier options

    According to Planet of Plenty, these alternative foodstuffs are seen as cost-effective feed management strategies that are not only better for the environment but healthier for animals as well. While sustainable animal nutrition won’t happen at scale overnight, it is another tool in the world’s arsenal to tackle climate change and protect the earth from further damage.

    Read full article here

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      Market Forces Are Driving Improvements In Animal Welfare

      In Article4 Minutes

      Month: April 2022

      While leather manufacturers are not directly responsible for raising cattle, they have always had an interest in the welfare of the animals from which hides are derived. The reasons are two-fold: first, a well-cared-for cow will produce a better-quality hide with fewer imperfections and so, ultimately, will make better leather; and, secondly, end customers are curious – now more so than ever – about the source of the leather they buy, demanding reassurance that cattle are ethically treated.

      Both issues are especially critical in the case of automotive leather upholstery, where unblemished hides are at a premium and car manufacturers are under huge pressure from customers to demonstrate sustainable credentials. An essay on the Nothing to Hide website, entitled The importance of animal welfare to the leather industry, describes how these dual motivations, which have always been a part of the sector, have intensified in the last twenty years across the board. This has resulted in an industry that is far more focused on animal welfare than ever before.

      Humane standards 

      The essay, originally published in 2014, has been updated with new insights from animal welfare campaigner Dr Temple Grandin, professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University. Her fundamental contention is that it is permissible for humans to use animals as long as they are treated well right up to the moment of slaughter. Since the 1990s, she has advised on and implemented various systems to ensure the good treatment of cattle, which has resulted in greater transparency and higher standards. In particular, she has developed an auditing system that checks that specific standards are being met. For example, the way animals are corralled, how workers treat them, and how painlessly the cattle are killed come under scrutiny. Facilities must also show that they are being run in a way that any general member of the public would find acceptable.

      “We can still produce unique things. We can push those ancient techniques further; we can learn from them and build on them… and that’s the future of leatherwork.”

      Animal welfare in Europe

      According to Nothing to Hide, the European leather industry is following suit with these kinds of initiatives. Its representative body, COTANCE, launched a plan for better hide traceability as far back as 2011 and has urged tanners to drive better governance. It recognises that, apart from the moral obligations to raise animals ethically, “customers want to know where the leather comes from”. Today, all kinds of traceability schemes are in place around the world to provide full transparency and documentation about where the original hides come from and how the animals – from which the hides were taken – were treated.

      Market forces

      Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done to guarantee the welfare of animals everywhere. But there is gathering momentum for more transparency driven largely by fast-food brands – one of the main global customers for cattle farmers. They too are finding themselves answerable to their customers and need to demonstrate that they are doing everything possible to raise cattle responsibly.

      Read full article here

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        What Is The Future Of Leather?

        In Article3 Minutes

        Month: April 2022

        Leatherette’ is a synthetic material, the origins of which can be traced back to the 1920s when commercially viable alternatives to leather were first being actively researched. According to sohoconcept.com “It’s typically made from natural or synthetic cloth fibres coated in PVC or polyurethane and contains no animal by-products, unlike real leather which is made from animal hide treated with chemicals. This stark contrast in materials means there are many differences between leather and leatherette to consider.”

        Leather has been used by civilisations, all around the world, for millennia. Its properties of durability, strength and flexibility – not to mention its sensual properties of texture and smell – have been valued for all kinds of applications through the ages. Craftspeople have honed their techniques over time to produce finer and finer leather for both practical and decorative purposes. Today, that work continues. Craftsmen like Bill Amberg, founder of the Bill Amberg Studio, are finding entirely new ways to increase the appeal of genuine leather through the use of texture and colour.

        In the video on their website, Amberg describes his passion for leather and the pride he takes in continuing the traditions he has inherited. His use of print techniques, in particular, is redefining what people expect leather to look like. His studio is responsible for some quite inspirational work, particularly in the field of interior decoration. As he says in the video, “We can still produce unique things. We can push those ancient techniques further; we can learn from them and build on them… and that’s the future of leatherwork.” He foresees leather being used in entirely new ways as the fresh techniques become more widespread.

        While Amberg’s studio is best known for its interior furnishings, they are also collaborating with Helm Artomotiv on an inspirational automotive leather project by refitting classic, reclaimed E-Type Jaguar cars with custom leather interiors. Described by Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car ever made,” the Series 1 Jaguar E-type remains an icon of modern design.

        “We can still produce unique things. We can push those ancient techniques further; we can learn from them and build on them… and that’s the future of leatherwork.”

        According to their website, Amberg’s studio uses “buttery soft suede and plump semi-aniline leather throughout” with “beautifully executed hand-stitched detailing on leather toggle switches, a hand-stitched steering wheel and matching grab handle”. In addition, Amberg created bespoke matching versions of his iconic Rocket bags for the lucky few who will get to experience this new E-Type sensation. But don’t all rush at once: only twenty of these magnificent cars are expected to ever be produced!

        With thanks to Leather Naturally for the heads-up about this story…

        Watch the video here

        Read full article here

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          The Pros And Cons Of Genuine Leather And Leatherette

          In Article4 Minutes

          Month: April 2022

          Leatherette’ is a synthetic material, the origins of which can be traced back to the 1920s when commercially viable alternatives to leather were first being actively researched. According to sohoconcept.com “It’s typically made from natural or synthetic cloth fibres coated in PVC or polyurethane and contains no animal by-products, unlike real leather which is made from animal hide treated with chemicals. This stark contrast in materials means there are many differences between leather and leatherette to consider.”

          Comfort, maintenance, price

          For texture and comfort, leather comes out on top and, of course, it can “add a pleasant aroma in you auto”. Who doesn’t love the smell of genuine leather? Leatherette, on the other hand, tends to get hotter in warm weather because, unlike the real thing, it doesn’t ‘breathe” in the same way. When it comes to upkeep, cars.com suggests that leather seats take more maintenance than their plastic counterparts. But most leather in cars these days comes with special treatments which add to its natural durability and stain resistance. Then again, since leatherette is plastic-based, it isn’t porous so spills can be easily wiped away. The article suggests: “This makes leatherette generally easier to keep clean than leather and it won’t require as many specialized cleaning supplies to keep it looking new.” And then there’s the price issue. Cars.com makes no secret of the fact that leather seats in your interior can cost substantially more than plastic ones but it points out that “leather upholstery does add to the resale value of a car if it’s well-maintained, and many buyers of luxury vehicles consider leather a must-have feature.”

          The more sustainable option

          Of course, leatherette has come a long way since its inception in the middle of the last century. Contemporary alternatives to leather such as Alcantara attempt to mimic the feel of leather much more closely but, at the end of the day, this ‘Ultrasuede’ material is still made from polyester and so it is synthetic – just like leatherette. That means it is derived from oil at the beginning of its life and will not biodegrade at the end of its life, potentially polluting the earth and impacting wildlife for literally millennia to come.

          At One 4 Leather we welcome choice and freely acknowledge that people might choose alternatives to leather for all sorts of reasons. All we ask is that consumers are made aware of all the facts surrounding their choices so they can come to a balanced decision in the end.

          Read full article here

          This stark contrast in materials means there are many differences between leather and leatherette to consider.

          As One4Leather has reported before, this sense of confusion is very real with up to 20% of consumers believing materials like MB-Tex and NuLux are leather when, in fact, they are man-made plastics.

          The Portuguese move follows a similar decree by Italy in May 2020 designed to protect the term ‘leather’ adequately against misappropriation. Its law expressly forbids the use of the words for leather “pelle” and “cuoio”, even as prefixes or suffixes, to identify materials not having animal origin. So, for example, terms such as faux leather, vegan leather and synthetic leather would all be outlawed.

          Meanwhile COTANCE (the main European leather industry trade body) continues to call on the EU to make national legislation like that in Portugal and Italy applicable across the whole of the European Union.

          Read full articles here and here

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            ‘Vegan Leather’ Comes Under Pressure

            In Article3 Minutes

            Month: April 2022

            Two articles from The Times newspaper illustrate the increased scrutiny so-called ‘vegan leather’ is coming under as the facts about its origins and sustainability become more widely known. In the first, entitled ‘Vegan leather loses its green credentials as plastics require fossil fuels’, it’s claimed that certain alternatives to leather are “being dropped by some brands” over their not-so green credentials.

            While using pineapple fibres or apple pulp may sound like a good idea, many synthetic leather products also use non-biodegradable plastic, polyester, PVC and polyurethane – which, according to the article, “all require fossil fuels in their manufacturing”. It goes on to describe how high street brands are juggling terms such as “faux leather” and “vegan leather”, and how manufacturers are reassessing their approach to animal-free options.

            This follows the news that Portugal has banned use of the ‘misleading’ term ‘vegan leather’, because it misleadingly equates a synthetic product with genuine leather. The Times article says: “The law prohibits the use of the words ‘leather’ or ‘coated leather’ when combined with any other materials, effectively prohibiting vegan leather from being used on products manufactured in the southern European country”.

            Leather UK responded by saying that “consumers are often unsure of the origin of vegan leather, and what the term really means”. Many people think ‘vegan’ automatically means ‘sustainable’, but this is clearly very far from the truth. Not only are many derived from fossil fuels, but their plastic content does not biodegrade, causing pollution and quite possibly significant harm to wildlife.

            "Consumers are often unsure of the origin of vegan leather, and what the term really means”

            As One4Leather has reported before, this sense of confusion is very real with up to 20% of consumers believing materials like MB-Tex and NuLux are leather when, in fact, they are man-made plastics.

            The Portuguese move follows a similar decree by Italy in May 2020 designed to protect the term ‘leather’ adequately against misappropriation. Its law expressly forbids the use of the words for leather “pelle” and “cuoio”, even as prefixes or suffixes, to identify materials not having animal origin. So, for example, terms such as faux leather, vegan leather and synthetic leather would all be outlawed.

            Meanwhile COTANCE (the main European leather industry trade body) continues to call on the EU to make national legislation like that in Portugal and Italy applicable across the whole of the European Union.

            Read full articles here and here

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              Your e-mail is only used exclusively for our newsletter and will not be shared with third parties.


              Holy Cow: Food For Thought

              In Article, News3 Minutes

              Month: April 2022

              As a by-product of the meat industry, leather is a highly sustainable material. Producing leather is a way of using a resource that would otherwise be thrown away and put into landfill. It then goes on to have a long useful life thanks to its durability and, ultimately, completes its cycle by biodegrading back into the earth. Sadly, however, the hide market has been subdued in recent years because of the use of rather less sustainable synthetics. According to Beef Central, “nearly 16 percent of all hides produced in the US last year went to landfill because there was no market for them”.

              Saving hides from landfill 

              It is very refreshing therefore to hear of another way of using hides and to reduce the wasteful practice of discarding them. A couple of entrepreneurs in Washington State, USA, have created ‘Holy Cow’ snacks which turn hides – or ‘beef skins’ as they prefer to call them – into tasty nibbles. One of the founders, Javon Bangs is quoted as saying: “Instead of discarding hides in landfills, we are upcycling them into a nutrient-dense snack. This reduces waste and pressure on the environment.”

              Sustainability challenges

              Available in four flavours, the snacks are inspired by Indonesian cuisine and designed to be an organic, ethical and healthier alternative to traditional processed snacks. In realising this objective, the company has faced many challenges that are familiar to those faced by the leather industry. Take animal welfare, for example. Just as leather producers want hides to be as unblemished as possible which means getting them from cattle that have been well cared for, Bangs insists on sourcing from “happy cows”. That means grass-fed beef cattle raised on farms that are not just sustainable but that practise regenerative farming methods. This too, is in line with the approach of more and more leather producers today.

              In addition to checking out the farms that cattle come from, New Food Magazine describes how Holy Cow pays attention to the entire supply chain to ensure that ‘food miles’ are kept to a minimum. In the same way, leather producers are finding more ways to document their supply chain and ensure traceability of hides to confirm that they come from farms with verifiably high welfare standards.

              It is very refreshing therefore to hear of another way of using hides and to reduce the wasteful practice of discarding them.

              Toward a circular economy

              It is early days but so far the company has “upcycled and prevented over two tonnes of waste from 500 hides from going to landfill”, according to Bangs. As the rush to synthetics subsides and the sustainability flaws of faux leather are increasingly revealed, hopefully many more hides will go to good use as people embrace leather – as well as beef rinds – more and more in the circular economy of the future.

              Read full article here

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