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Indispensable Leather: The Power of Material Revolution

A desperate yet credible attempt to revamp the past has suddenly gained momentum. According to our ever evolutionary circle, we have never shied away from going back to where it all started, to seek inspiration. But our loop has only narrowed down with time. Be it in our choices of food, such as abandoning junk to understanding the importance of hitting outdoors for better agility, or be our fashion tastes where the vintage now dominates us from our head-to-toe. Some have been reinvented and some have been restructured, humans have modified the old to suit their needs, tempers and thoughts. Today, our preoccupation with the fantasies of the old world charm and possessing it has become a second nature. We really do not mind accessing what historians and/or anthropologists have identified and/or dug up for us. The Greek, Romans and Latin fossils have been studied again and again to understand the garb and ornaments of that time. These materials have now found their way up to the ramps and glass sealed, chandelier lit showrooms of pricey manufacturers and pricier designers. One such material of the moment is undoubtedly: Leather. Its grip extends throughout the wardrobe and beyond. No corners of opulent homes are spared from the leather upholstery or furnishings. Over the last ten years, Leather’s success has transformed businesses, invigorated brands and contributed significantly to economies. Furthermore, marble altar merchandising, year-long waiting lists, outlandish price points and shop assistants in silk gloves — on the surface, have plummeted the lucrative luxury attached to the material. But along the way, this boom has stretched the leather markets far too much in the demand and supply ratio. The exponential growth of this material has landed in people experimenting with it its texture, tanning methods and also developing exquisite and innovative prototypes to stand out.

Up until now, fashion labels and luxury titans such as Kering, LVMH and Hermès jockey have only controlled the market in flux. Sourcing the best of processed hide from all over Europe and its premier tanneries and using various animals for their product ranges, the exorbitant pricing was tolerated. This was because of a general attitude towards Leather as being a keeper’s to-be-passed-on-as-tradition item. But according to an Exane BNP Paribas report, ‘emerging markets are producing an army of new middle class consumers, where the vast majority is finding mega-brands... too expensive (though they may consume mega-brand cosmetics and fragrances) and who will settle for lower-priced alternatives…”

Hence, this created a common platform for all those technology and innovation supporting customers to revel in. Unlike traditional luxury brands, accessible goods in the same material were less obligated to use the very finest leather, and perhaps freer to use composite designs that require smaller pieces of unblemished leather. The new smaller models and lower ticket items inverted the trend. In a market awash with choice, a strategy not based on past success and reputation, became the perfect recipe for the pursuit of relentless micro-trends and eco-pragmatism.

However, it was unlikely that the world’s consumers (an ever-increasing demographic) will be immediately dissuaded from buying leather altogether. Therefore, the part of the solution became making the product more sustainable. So, there enters some of the most stunning examples of a revolution in the leather industry such as Carmen Hisanjo’s version of Leather, known as the Pinatex, made from the processed fiber of a Pineapple tree. Even when Each and Audio brand, Master & Dynamic, revealed designs for headphones made from leather that changes color to match different moods and Spanish designer Jorge Penadés molded together the waste shredded leather and natural bone glue to create pieces of furniture, to fans, leather still remained as the ultimate heritage material.

Not ready to accept the niche carved by using the Leather in different and transformative ways, the acceptance for similar priced same material but alternative methodologies saw a downfall. A huge backlash again brought authentic leathers to stages and wardrobes. But the usual at the industry and that who-knew-better were not ready to give in just yet. They introduced the synthetic leather. Unlike the traditional, this was artificially processed but as long lasting as any other. This also increased the scope of wastage reduction. Later, many patents were registered for potentially groundbreaking reformation of this material. These were worlds away from the plasticized synthetics of a decade ago. Presenting, vegan brand Bourgeois Boheme and bio-based PU polyurethane leather goods under Matt & Nat. All this was without the mayhem of acquiring processed fine lather from tanneries. Though it seized and limited the accessibility and the preference of original goods, people still recognized it as a thing of luxury, however artificial. This is where the biology and we resorting to self came in. Another innovation that saw the light in recent time was Tina Gorjanc’s proposal of a conceptual range of leather accessories made of skin grown from late fashion designer Alexander McQueen's DNA. And to our surprise it doesn’t end here. The list of developing on Leather is endless. A rough patch and a sewing kit is all you need to think upon the revolution you create. Surely, Leona Lewis presents an apt view on the same when she says, “I see a lot of innovative designers and brands using beautiful fabrics that don’t involve animal skin – and that gives me hope.”

To luxury fashion houses, leather goods have been the rocket fuel of their huge expansion over the past decade. To high street fashion brands they represent an unrivalled cash cow. To consumers they’re just another disposable fashion product. The fact that they are made from the skin of a beast is incidental. Hence, as a collective effort, we can all try and invest in an alternative piece of the original material. One such place highly recommended is www.leatherworks.com. Here you will find your leather essentials at the most affordable price. Apart from an embossed brand identity, they hand-paint and customize their product ranges especially for you. So all those leather vegans and rexin haters and trend lovers, this is just the place for you. Everywhere else you may burn a hole in your pocket, but at The Leather Works, you may fill them with their goods.


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