Many stakeholders in the leather industry have been voicing the need to promote leather internationally in a coordinated way, with the aim of maintaining the perception of leather as a unique material, and reconnecting the younger generations with the value of leather. This view comes from Leather Naturally, an initiative to put forward the case of leather in the face of intense competition from synthetic leathers, manufactured from non-biodegradable petrochemical derivatives, as well as growing pressure against the leather industry from groups such as Greenpeace and the animal welfare organization, PETA.
Leather Naturally has been urged by stakeholders to come up with a plan to positively highlight leather, and is set to implement a digital campaign. The organisation has created a multimedia platform that will engage with consumers around the world through social-media, emphasizing leather’s attributes and strengthening the connection with consumers from Generation Z and Millennials with the aim of stimulating leather consumption.
Leather Naturally has already raised over 40% of the funds required for the five-year campaign, but still needs further support from the leather industry to reach the US$1,500,000 needed to get the campaign underway.
Hans van Haarst CEO of leather chemicals producer, Smit & Zoon commented, “We are convinced that cooperation in the leather value chain is needed to make it sustainable from an economic, environmental and social perspective. This campaign is a significant contribution to the industry needs. We will fund US$50,000 of this PR campaign, anticipating a high return for the industry. We strongly encourage others to join, instead of waiting for somebody else to take the initiative.”
Andreas Kindermann, CEO of Wollsdorf Leder added, “This year has shown that there is a lack of communication to young people. They are the customer of the future and our industry needs new ways of communication to reach out to them. This collaborative approach supports our industry, making leather the perfect material for the next generation by providing clear information and counteracting ‘fake news’.”
Support is also coming from different organizations across the sector. Recently, the member associations of GLCC – the International Council of Tanners (ICT), International Council of Hides, Skins and leather Traders Associations (ICHSLTA) and the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS) – issued a release supporting the initiative and encouraging members to back the initiative.