AW 24-25 Sustainability : Leather

An extraordinary amount of care and attention has gone into the development of the Autumn-Winter 2024-25 season, with the leather industry mobilizing to ensure traceability of value chains and enhanced transparency and communication regarding action taken and prospects for future developments. Keeping within the framework “avoid, reduce, restore, transform,” reducing impact has a fundamental role in a rapidly changing sector.

From the geographical origin of a product to the choice of renewable energies and water-saving processes and finishings, ensuring environmental safety is the new standard for responsible tanners.

Controlled origins

Traceability data is collected from the start of the value chain. Working hand-in-hand with the agri-food industry, the leather sector collects product origin information from slaughterhouse to farm, in initiatives that reflect a growing commitment from brands to provide guarantees to consumers and authorities. 

Having access to such information at the farm level allows for a deeper approach, providing transparency on farming conditions and ensuring that the 5 animal freedoms are respected.

Tanners are also gearing up to meet the European regulation on Deforestation-Free Supply Chains, which comes into force in 2025. Under this new directive, information on the precise geographical origin of the raw material will be required.

Laser markers and animal welfare guidelines from LWG’s Traceability Working Group are valuable tools for tracing the source of information.

High-performance tanning

This season, leather quality is measured by environmental performance, with tanning processes developed to limit the use of water, energy and chemicals. In terms of performance, these tanning processes ensure excellent durability of the skins over time, while producing fashion-forward colors and behaviors.

Chrome-free leathers offer continues to grow. In terms of versatility, the possibilities are endless and range from full suppleness to dense, firm handles, combined with excellent resistance to rubbing, stretch or abrasions. It’s here that we find the season’s flagship products, with a firmness that’s ideal for constructive, architectural shapes.

In vegetable tanning, in addition to olive, the range of circular tanning actives continues to grow, with the use of sumac. The plant diversifies the range with luminous shades that retain their brilliance without fading. For ultra-fine, supple leathers geared to clothing.

Synthetic metal-free tanning agents are reformulated to minimize the levels of glutaraldehyde and bisphenols F and S which can present a risk depending on concentration. Research is based on synthetic plant extract polymers to ensure the safety of products and contribute to the circularity of resources. Residues of hemp oil or olive leaves are used in formulations to provide soft, round, supple handles, while guaranteeing accelerated biodegradability.

Product life cycle

Tanning is the most important stage in the processing of hides and its impact is felt throughout the product’s entire life cycle. 

To promote global eco-design, tanners are committed to in-depth environmental management through to the final stages of product development, to ensure their efforts are not neutralized by the finishing processes.

New plant extracts can be used to highlight warm tones on vegetable-tanned and re-tanned leathers. This includes yellow shades with chestnut, reddish shades with quebracho, and taupe shades with oak gall. No dyeing is carried out to minimize operations and enhance the natural beauty of these basanes. Reducing chemical impact also favors the use of bio-sourced polyurethanes, water-based varnishes and solvent-free finishes.

The aim is to develop resistant skins which pass biodegradability tests in freshwater, seawater and soil, factoring in end-of-life perspectives from the creation of the product.

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