Leather was perhaps the first recycled material. Hides and skins are a by-product of the meat industry, that if not turned into leather would contribute to landfill. Moreover, its versatility lends itself to innovation and creativity as it can be used to create a huge range of products from the softest leather pants to the most structured handbag.
The world needs more sustainable materials but choosing imitation leather often means choosing synthetics derived from finite resources, with a poor environmental footprint. Replacing a natural material, with oil-based plastics or conflating ‘vegan’ with ‘sustainable’ is one of the biggest mistakes the fashion industry can make. Advances in utilising alternative plant-based materials give us more options as consumers, but many require bonding with synthetics for strength so don’t provide a quick fix.
The simple and quick fix we can all act on is to buy less, buy better. Leather is a natural by-product, it is versatile, long-lasting and repairable. In short, leather is the perfect material for a world that needs to consume less, reuse more and recycle everything.
Leather Naturally promotes the use of globally-manufactured sustainable leather. Its website www.leathernaturally.org is a key resource for information about modern leather manufacturing and the part it plays in a more sustainable society.