Worried by the link, the US parent company of footwear and clothing brands such as Vans, Timberland, The North Face, Dickies, Kipling, and many more, says it will no longer buy leather and hides directly from Brazil. The Brazilian outlet Folha de São Paulo reported that the company, VF Corp., informed the Center for the Brazilian Tanning Industry that it would suspend leather purchases from the country on account of the fires.
VF Corp. said in a statement to Quartz that it can no longer ensure that this leather complies with its responsible sourcing requirements. “Therefore, VF Corporation and our brands have decided to no longer directly source leather and hides from Brazil for our international businesses until we have the confidence and assurance that the materials used in our products do not contribute to environmental harm in the country,” it said.
A subsidiary of a large slaughterhouse and cattle raising company in Brazil, which had been fined for illegal deforestation in the Amazon, supplied leather to several Italian tanneries from 2017 to 2018. Those tanneries supplied finished leather to at least one international brand. Recently, the environmental organization Global Canopy also warned companies that suppliers in China—Brazil’s largest export market for cattle products—could be selling them beef or leather connected to the Amazon’s destruction. It cautioned them to be diligent about tracing the source of their materials.
In response to these reports that fashion’s love of leather is fuelling the Amazon fires, Dr Kerry Senior, Director of Leather UK, has issued a statement to The Guardian newspaper.
The letter in full reads:
“While no one can fail to be horrified by the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest, the suggestion by Lucy Siegle that they are driven by the production of leather (Burning issue: how fashion’s love of leather is fuelling the fires in the Amazon) is a grotesque distortion of the facts.
Cattle are reared for beef and globally, meat consumption is rising. In contrast, demand for hides and leather has fallen. In Brazil, hide and leather prices have fallen by 53% in the past two years, and leather exports have also fallen. Ten percent of the hides produced are now not even prepared for leather manufacture. The hide and subsequent leather are by-products for which farmers receive no return. If leather was the driving force for the fires in the Amazon, they would not have been lit.
It is also entirely misleading to conflate increased shoe consumption with leather production. The volume of leather used in footwear has fallen by over 15% since 2010, while the increase in footwear manufacture has been driven by the boom in athleisure, largely using unsustainable, synthetics materials derived from petrochemicals. The burning of the Amazon is completely unacceptable but leather is not to blame.”