As the LeatherNaturally! movement continues to grow getting a proper definition of leather has become important. Below I reproduce a posting (slightly adapted) by Amanda Michel from Leatherwise which helps us take this forward.
- Discussion:How should we define “premium” leather; and stop lower grades sliding into a commodity?
The “official” definition of leather that I refer to is that stated in the British Standard Glossary of Leather Terms (BS 2780) which states that leather is:
“Hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact, tanned to be imputrescible. The hair or wool may or may not have been removed. Leather is also made from a hide or skin which has been split into layers or segmented either before or after tanning.
If the leather has a surface coating, the mean thickness of this surface layer, however applied, has to be 0.15mm or less.
If a tanned hide or skin is disintegrated mechanically and/or chemically into fibrous particles, small pieces or powders and then, with or without the combination of a binding agent, is made into sheets or other forms, such sheets or forms are not leather”.
To put this more succinctly, leather is hide or skin that has been preserved by tanning, should have its original fibre structure intact and should not have a surface coating that is more than 0.15mm thick.
This definition is taken from the Internation Glossary of Leather Terms published by ICT and currently going through the lengthy process of being ratified as a European-wide definition through CEN.
The sad tale of consumers who purchase coated furniture is unfortunately a common one and retailers are invariably not aware of the differences between coated splits and conventional upholstery leather, either in terms of its manufacture or performance characteristics. However, whilst some coated leather do have coatings that exceed the 0.15mm thickness required in the “official” definition and therefore should be described as “coated leather”, not all do and therefore have the right to be described as “leather”. The problem is that both the consumer and retailer are unaware of the differences between different leather types resulting inthe unfortunate outcome of problems and dissapointment with their leather purchase.
In the UK it is Trading Standards who police misdescribed goods ie where an item does not meet the “official” definition of leather, and they do occasionally target leather products in mystery shopping excersises and will follow up consumer complaints where appropriate.
Posted by Amanda Michel