For Leather, Traceability And Sustainability Go Hand In Hand

In Article, Fact3 Minutes

Month: August 2022

Our friends at Leather Naturally told us about an interesting video, part of a series called ‘Sustainable Talks with N&N’. It features an interview with two companies that are promoting a system that provides complete traceability from cow to finished product.

Imagine that: being able to trace the leather in your shoe, bag or car seat back to an individual cow and finding out how it was raised, what it was fed on and, basically, if it had had a good life.

Full leather traceability

The tracing technology has been developed by SPOOR, an offshoot of the Danish leather supplier, Scan-Hide. When hides come from an abattoir, they include the ear tag the cow was given at birth. Having registered all the information from the tag, the SPOOR system uses laser technology to imprint each hide with a unique number which can then be used to access the full backstory of the animal. According to their website, “Unlike other methods of identification, our laser mark is resistant and stays on the hide throughout the entire tanning and refinement process to the final leather cut. In this way, we can guarantee that our rawhides come with 100% documented traceability all the way back to the farm.”

Being able to trace the source of leather right back to the farm could be a huge benefit for leather product manufacturers

Ethically sourced leather

Being able to trace the source of leather right back to the farm could be a huge benefit for leather product manufacturers – including those in the automotive industry. It enables them to show consumers who might have questions over animal welfare, for example, that their automotive leather has been humanely and ethically sourced. It could be a vital element in telling the real story of sustainable leather. As we have reported before, when it comes to leather for car seats, the issue of traceability is being taken very seriously and various routes are being explored to find viable and reliable ways to deliver it.

Birgitte Holgaard Langer, Business Development Director at SPOOR, says that their technology is a real game-changer: “Sustainability is not a destination. It’s a new way of collaborating, thinking, a way of finding solutions together through the value chain.”

SPOOR is an offshoot of Scan-Hide, Denmark’s last remaining tannery, which is run with a co-operative spirit and built on local heritage and unique craftmanship. Based on the island of Funen, it supplies rawhides internationally – each one with a unique story of sustainability to tell.

Watch the video here

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    5 Ways To Tell If Leather Is Real

    In Article4 Minutes

    Month: August 2022

    An article co-authored by Mallika Sharma on WikiHow sets out some simple ways how to tell real leather from fake leather in garments. It can be more tricky to tell the difference in automotive leather because it is designed specifically to minimise variance and many automotive companies specify leather that doesn’t have that smell we associate with genuine leather. Below is a quick summary:

    1. Give it a sniff

    One of the best things about leather is its glorious aroma. It’s probably the hardest things for fakers to fake so this is a good starting point.

    2. Read the label!

    Naturally, if the maker of the article has used genuine leather he will want to tell you. So if there’s no label, it may be fair to conclude he has something to hide. Beware also of false or misleading labelling. Designations such as ‘vegan leather’ or ‘faux leather’ or ‘leatherette’ are not leather at all. Some countries have banned this kind of misleading information but we still await a blanket EU ban. Even the terms ‘genuine’ or ‘real’ leather can cause confusion and we have published articles before on what genuine leather actually is.

    3. Get a feel for it

    With its textured surface, genuine leather feels soft and flexible. Fake leather will probably be smooth and somewhat hard or ‘plasticky’. Genuine leather has a warmth to it compared to the coolness of plastic and it can be stretched a little.

    As leather is a 100% natural and organic material, no two pieces are the same

    4. Check for imperfections

    As leather is a 100% natural and organic material, no two pieces are the same. Each piece of leather is like its own fingerprint. If you can compare your piece of ‘leather’ with another you’ll see that they are unique if genuine. If fake, they will look identical. Genuine leather hides will also have natural imperfections. If your piece looks too good to be true, it probably is. In addition, try and check the edges of the leather. The genuine article will be coarse and fibrous whereas a synthetic material will have perfectly straight edges.

    5. Try a little water

    Genuine leather is water resistant but that does not mean it won’t absorb some water on its surface. Fake materials, on the other hand, will be impermeable to water and it will simply run-off. So sprinkle a few drops on the material you’re testing and see what happens.

    One final point on how to tell if it’s real leather: leather is the result of a lot of craftsmanship and knowhow which is why it can seem expensive. We would say it is “reassuringly expensive” because it’s an indication that it’s the real deal and a reflection of the care and expertise that’s gone into its production. If the material you’re examining seems cheaper than you’d normally expect, it’s probably trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Put it down and step away!

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      Mulberry Finds There’s No Substitute For Sustainable Leather

      In Article3 Minutes

      Month: August 2022

      Vogue India reports that top fashion accessory brand Mulberry is committed to using sustainable leather for its products. Although online searches for “vegan leather” have gone up 60% year on year according to Lyst, the luxury goods maker rightly believes that genuine leather still offers a more sustainable solution than alternatives.

      From fashion leather to automotive leather

      As the Vogue article points out, Mulberry isn’t alone in this: “With many of these vegan alternatives still in their infancy, and often containing synthetic content, luxury fashion houses are increasingly looking at how they can produce cowhide more sustainably.”

      Naturally, the lessons being learned in the fashion world about the enduring appeal and sustainable nature of leather are equally applicable to the world of automotive leather where consumers are being offered similar choices between genuine leather and synthetic alternatives.

      Regenerative farming and traceability

      Mulberry is pursuing several different routes to ensure its leather is as sustainable as possible. Committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2035, it encourages regenerative farming techniques which maintain healthy soil and maximise its ability to store more carbon.

      It also pays close attention to traceability and transparency across its supply chain making it able to trace its hides from farm to finished product. Trusted partners such as Scottish Leather Group, for example, ensure that the source of each piece of leather can be verified. Their farms also operate with net-zero CO2 emissions which further enhances the leather sustainability story.

      “In people’s minds, vegan leather is more sustainable, but in reality, it’s a lot of plastic.”

      Whole lifecycle perspective

      Another perspective on that story is the longevity that leather provides. Leather is not only naturally durable, ensuring many years of productive use, but Mulberry also offers a repair service to extend the life cycle of its products even further. Ultimately, any piece of leather is also biodegradable so can complete the recycling circle in the most natural way.

      A question of perception

      The Vogue article quotes sustainable designer Caroline Massenet (founder of SKIIM Paris, a luxury leather and suede brand): “In people’s minds, vegan leather is more sustainable, but in reality, it’s a lot of plastic.” This is the fundamental challenge facing the automotive leather industry. In terms of sustainability it really is the right product at just the right time – but consumers’ erroneous perceptions need to be changed for them to embrace it once again.

      Read the full article here

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