I have always argued an industry has to defend its product and its brand, and the brand leather is certainly under attack from many sides. Look at the article in today’s (15h February 2009) Observer Magazine:.http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/15/lucy-siegle-dilemma-eco-friendly-green-living/print
This article “Is there a viable eco alternative to leather?” is supposed to be an “environmental” article. It has some fair points about the chemcials used in tanneries and the industry’s carelessnes with them, along with the transfer of tanning to parts of the world where the environmental aspects are not viewed, or enforced, as seriously as they should be. Yet it is hugely superficial and sweeping in its comments and full of errors. “90% of leather comes from bovine and the number of hides is growing faster than meat” is nonsense. These errors are used to attack the tanners’ argument that leather making is essentially the management of bi-products. The author also worries about landfill issues with some flippant comments about wearing footwear longer: a serious issue and one of the reasons leather is better than alternatives.
These deserve proper discussion based on facts. No industry can afford to be damaged by weasel words, but industries like leather make themselves vulnerable by not bothering to turn up. It is not that they do not sit at the table, it is worse than that. It is that they do not think they need to sit at the table. Just look at the latest comment from the APLF where Ron Sauer will run a discussion on the hide price crash with one question already identified – “absence of leather association involvement during the present problematic period.”
Considering how hard so many tanners have worked, so many national tanning industried have worked to correct historic errors and make leather a clean renewable business it is truly a great sadness that the industry bodies are not strong enought or interested enough to defend the brand “leather”. They should not only be responding to these articles which damage their industry, they should be setting the agenda. Leather is a good material, properly made, and one that consumers love. We need to be sure that nothing gets in the way of that consumer feel for leather in these difficult times