Whether for clothing, bags or shoes, leather reinvents itself with supple and firm behaviors, in optical whites or dazzlingly vibrant shades, using verifiably sustainable processes. With innovative products and a global environmental management of tanneries, leather leaves nothing to chance to convince us of its many qualities. From traced tanning agents to recycled production waste, the season showcases the latest investments of an industry committed to providing a model for virtuous change.
Tracing the origins
Tanners are committed to transparency about the origins of skins, and are sharing the conditions under which cattle, sheep and goats are raised to attest to the welfare of the animals.
Some partnerships are made directly with breeders, preferably in short circuits, to provide the security of local and more easily verified leather chains. Laser marking techniques are another compelling solution in terms of tracking individual hides. ICEC’s Leather Traceability certification ensures reliable and verifiable information about the origin of raw hides, semi-finished leathers and finished leathers. Traceability goes as far as the guaranteed origin of tannins, with the wood used coming from sustainably managed forests.
Although chrome tanning is still the most widely used, other tannins are emerging to expand the possibilities in terms of skin behaviors and colorings.
Vegetable tannins are updated by using extracts from rhubarb roots and olive leaves. These circular tannins give leathers a roundness and suppleness that is unique in vegetable tanning. Hemp continues to win over the fashion industry, relying on hemp oil co-products transformed into biopolymers to join other synthetic metal-free tanning formulas.
The winning combination of synthetic tanning for suppleness and color absorption, and vegetable re-tanning for firmness and liveliness, produces a new leather offer for spring-summer bags and shoes.
Chrome-free tannings are being perfected to offer qualities similar to that of chrome – suppleness, elasticity, skin resilience – in a wide range of colors, while providing the added assurance of leather tanned without heavy metals.
Transforming with restraint
In a virtuous approach, good practices aim to minimize transformation processes. This is where Basanes present real opportunities. Beyond their qualities as tanning and re-tanning agents, the natural extracts used lend a subtle coloring effect. Delicate color nuances are also achieved by using quebracho for reddish tones, mimosa for pinkish shades, and acacia for creamy hues. This approach also extends to circular tannins from grape marc, used for re-tanning and coloring in the same bath, thanks to pigments naturally present in these co-products.
Finishings also feature reduced impact, with water-based solvent-free polyurethane varnishes, and vegetable waxes that impart softness, suppleness and pull-up effects. Delicate color nuances are achieved with the use of quebracho for reddish tones, mimosa for pinkish shades, or acacia for creamy hues. This is also achieved with circular tannins from grape marc, re-tanning and coloring in the same bath thanks to the pigments naturally present in these co-products.
Finishings are also featuring reduced impact, with solvent-free water-based polyurethane varnishes, and vegetable waxes that impart softness, suppleness and pull-up effects.
Upgrading every last element
From tanning to the production offcuts of finished products, leather is investing in circular developments focused on reusing substances and materials.
Chrome-tanned leather residues can be transformed into a liquid solution that allows re-tanning without requiring additional chrome – just one efficient way of managing production waste.
As for clothing offcuts, they can be crushed and mixed with rubber for soft and abrasion-resistant materials. Another alternative consists of using very fine particles and transforming them into a yarn that’s a skillful blend of leather bonded with rubber and lyocell.