The shift by brands to greater eco-responsibility is now more of a reality than an option. For AW 21/22, the ability to reconcile environmental protection, innovation and creativity is a new challenge that tanners are enthusiastically ready to take on.
Despite prejudices, being eco-mindful is no considered more of a springboard than an obstacle, a way to expand possibilities and unlock new horizons that address the expectations of a consumer interested in transparency, one constantly on the hunt for new sensory surprises.
For several seasons already, tanners have been searching for concrete and innovative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of the skins they use. And to help you build your leather collection in a more responsible way, and better understand these processes, Première Vision Paris has elaborated specific environmental ‘performance codes’ – attributed to both exhibitors’ fabrics and leathers.
In the leather industry, new developments increasingly tend to combine the use of these codes, indicating eco-friendly actions adopted throughout the production stages, for a 360° approach to a cleaner and more transparent process.
The Traceability Code is a good first step towards a more globally responsible vision.
Traceability provides information regarding the history of each skin throughout the production chain, from the origin of the hides at the breeders, tracking their transformations right through to the finished product.
Any skin meeting these criteria is eligible for the traceability code, including the skins of exotic animals such as alligators and reptiles.
Alligators and reptiles can originate from breeding farms that meet strict criteria to ensure that skins are ethically produced. They can also, like other protected animal species, be listed in CITES with an identifying card. As a reminder, CITES, “The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) also known as CITES or the Washington Convention, is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species to which they belong.”
As the first step in the production chain, the choice of skins is critically important for brands seeking to reassure consumers seeking awareness and transparency in terms of a product’s origins.
Traceability is also a very important criterion for tanners. As a guarantee of the finest hides, traceability is a way to avoid defects and ensure improved quality.
At face value, the role of traceability has little impact on a product’s esthetics or performance. However, by targeting a quite specific origin, traceability can influence the look, feel and performance of the skins.
By thoroughly examining the selection of a particular skin, the traceability code is a good gauge of the credibility and attention paid to a product, a way of re-injecting it with meaning.
Vegetal tanning is a process that exclusively uses vegetal tannins, and is based on a traditional technique that has proven its worth over many centuries. Its appeal has gone up again over the past several season; and its ability to plunge us into our own past and ancestry makes this method reassuring and attractive to the consumer.
Vegetable-tanned leathers are characterized by their easily recognizable authenticity and rigidity, along with their chromatic hues worked in identifiable natural tones achieved through an interplay of transparent effects on the skins. The tannins used are derived from the extracts of various plant elements, especially bark, wood and leaves. Among the most commonly used plants are chestnut trees, primarily from Italy, along with quebracho from Argentina, the Peruvian shrub called tara and olive leaves.
Seeking to broaden the classic color palette, tanners are putting their skills to work to find new solutions. The unique methods employed by each tannery can help leathers better catch the light and gain in intensity, especially thanks to improved penetration of the tannins. Tannins can also play on their resistance to light and heat. Today it’s quite easy to avoid a typically shiny, waxed look in favor of a matt and rubbery result elaborated in deep, dark color ranges.
Both sporty and urban, these leathers suggest the durability and athletic look of neoprene, just right to give a fresh new look to sneakers for the next season.
For winter 21/22, developments are also embracing ever more supple skins, with eco-friendly processes intervening throughout the production chain. The way skins are nourished with new oil mixtures, or various tannins, considerably broadens the field of possibilities.
Supple, super-sized bags elaborated in textured and lively lamb skins, either bubbled or crispy, each easily detected by a brush of the hand, are now fully achievable. Low boots with square heels and toes and small moon-shaped bags proudly showcase the inherent suppleness of a woven skin.
The Metal Free eco-responsibility code groups together products that are both vegetal-tanned, as described above, and synthetically tanned. Synthetic tanning uses synthesized tannins and is aimed at tanning and/or finishing processes that do not contain metal tanning agents and are certified free of heavy metals, in particular chromium, which has been traditionally used.
This is a fairly recent method, and the final result once again depends on a long process of research and testing, the secrets of which are often skillfully guarded by each tannery.
The Première Vision Marketplace features a selection of leathers meeting the criteria for the codes developed by Première Vision, to assist you in building your next AW 21/22 collection.