Leather know-how: sustainable leather innovations

Première Vision knows how important it is to promote the positive aspects of leather and is drawing on its expertise in the sector to present the latest sustainable leather innovations to help you establish the criteria for more environmentally-respectful sourcing.

Sustainable leather innovations for a greener industry

Because eco-responsible innovations evolve and vary with each season, Première Vision plays a key role in accompanying and facilitating sourcing for buyers in the sector, while supporting and promoting the sustainable initiatives of its exhibitors.

While mention is often made of the efforts to achieve a more virtuous tanning process, other options are increasing and having an impact on each stage in the production chain.

By focusing on companies offering leathers from new animal sources or new alternatives to conventional leather, it is now possible to favour eco-responsibility and make choices based on the desired end product.

Thanks to our selection of leathers present on the Marketplace, you will get an idea of the various approaches taken by exhibitors to help you develop your collections in a more sustainable manner.

The eco-responsible commitments of leather companies

Dani is one of the tanneries that communicates around their environmental stance and has put in place a number of concrete actions to achieve more virtuous processes. Their approach focuses on the product, their R&D service as well as the values held and promoted by the group. Dani can boast having obtained the “Carbon Footprint”, “Environmental Product Declaration” and “EDP” process certifications, with the goal of measuring and monitoring their environmental impact.

The company has also obtained LWG gold certification, the highest level, which ensures proven quality auditing for a responsible and sustainable leather production process. Skins come from traceable animals and the skin fat is removed before the liming process: an innovation which considerably reduces the consumption of water and chemical products.

Vachetta leather from Dani presented for Spring-Summer 22, that manages to be soft yet full, is ideal for leather goods such as large totes, for example. Leathers from Badia also hold LWG certification. Both illustrated products meet the company’s environmental criteria while being very different, the one offering a smooth and silky appearance, the other a grained finish.

At Riba Guixa, leathers boast LWG and ZDHC certification. ZDHC means “Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals” and seeks to demonstrate that the products used to produce an article contain no inacceptable substances, the aim being to completely eliminate dangerous chemical products from leathers.

The lamb leather from Riba Guixa presented here stands out for its softness and its light weight, while also teeming with properties: reduced chemical impact, eco-traceable and eco-waterless.

New leathers from the food industry

A crucial stage in leather production is the traceability of the animal. This covers a number of aspects inherent to the eco-responsibility approach and is also in line with the growing preference from consumers for transparency. Not only does this mean knowing where the animal has come from, but also that the animal has been raised under good welfare conditions, as well as providing information about all the stages in the processing of the hide into leather.

The choice of the animal is the key issue here. And once again, there is no one single answer. The response needs to be chosen carefully according to the desired end product.

New avenues are emerging offering a wider variety of animals. Often a product of the agri-food industry, these animals satisfy the need for traceability, and can be considered sustainable as a raw material is being recycled.

Processed marine hides

An example is the company Ictyos, which processes fish skins, mainly from the agri-food industry, and turns them into marine leathers. Ictyos works closely with sushi restaurant chains to source its skins.

The company, based in Lyon, prioritises MSC* or ASC* for its sourcing, to ensure better monitoring of the animals’ origins. The fish skins come mainly from salmon and sturgeon species and have very specific aesthetic uses. They closely resemble certain exotic skins and can be considered an alternative to the use of reptiles. With its typical cartilaginous markings, the sturgeon leather from Ictyos reveals a wide palette of colours from blues to intense reds, and can be shiny or smooth. It can be used for small leather goods and watchmaking. In contrast, salmon leather has a closely packed, symmetrical grain. Simultaneously lightweight, soft and very strong, its scales can be used to play with shades of colour.

These exceptional marine leathers are available in a matt version for a futuristic vibe or in iridescent finishes for evening wear. These multipurpose leathers can be used on footwear, bags or jewellery. Taking eco-responsibility even further, Ictyos leathers are 100% vegetable tanned.

Recycled rabbit leather

The tannery Cortadoria Leather recycles and creates value by sourcing rabbit skins from the agri-food industry and turning them into leather. The production process for this leather uses a new clean, chrome-free process that does not require biocides, sulphides, formaldehyde or other heavy metals. The process ensures responsible usage of water and energy and seeks to achieve a full 360° virtuous cycle, with the product being biodegradable at the end of its life cycle.

The tannery can boast Gold Cradle-to-Cradle certification. In addition to its irreproachable green characteristics, this rabbit leather boasts very specific aesthetic characteristics. Very lightweight and supple, it is elegant and refined whilst being strong and soft to the touch. In its smooth version, its intense colour and subtle finish are ideal for gloves, hats and leather goods, and it offers a particularly interesting technical performance, being resistant to light, water and sweat. The grained versions, or those with tiny geometric patterns on the surface, are available in matt finishes and are suitable for small leather goods.

The alternatives to animal leather for accessories

Other alternatives to animal leather are available for accessories and are encouraging new expressions in the sector.

Nuo is a patented material made of fine sheets of wood bonded onto cotton using an environmentally-friendly adhesive. This material is as supple as leather and can be used to produce accessories.

Meeting the criteria for vegan products, Nuo has a low environmental impact. The material is available in a variety of thicknesses, the use of which is adapted to the finished product. The finest version – 0.65mm – can be used for the production of leather goods and even clothing. For footwear, the material must be stronger and the thickness doubled. There is also a version bonded onto kraft paper, ideal for 3D thermomoulding of items such as mobile phone cases, automobile dashboards or door panels. The colours and patterns can vary according to the model and are easily adapted.

Alternative leathers to be found on the Marketplace

Continue to discover more about new sustainable approaches in leather with our article on expertise in different tanning methods. 

ASC *: ASC stands for Aquaculture Stewardship Council, and is an international label created in 2010 to identify fish raised in sustainable fish farms. This certification guarantees that the fish have been produced in a way that respects the environment and under good working conditions.

MSC *: MSC stands for Marine Stewardship Council, and is an international label created in 2000, certifying that sea products have been fished sustainably, respecting fish stocks and marine ecosystems, in a principle of sustainability and respect for the environment.

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