It’s official: leather is in a class of its own
Strange but true: in the EU, ‘leather’ is not a legally protected term. That means manufacturers can produce what they claim to be “leather substitutes” in an unregulated way. Not only that, the media often pick up on these and make unsubstantiated claims about them being ‘better’ than leather in different ways.
According to a short article written recently by Leather UK, the umbrella organisation of European tanners associations, COTANCE, decided to get to the facts of the matter. It commissioned a report from the independent Research Institute for Leather and Synthetic Materials (FILK) which compared substitutes with actual leather.
The report found that none of the tested substitutes exhibited all of the performance characteristics of leather. Especially in terms of water vapour permeability and absorption, leather outperforms them all. Worryingly, too, some substitutes even contained chemicals of concern.
At the end of the day, leather is happy to compete with alternatives but in any competition, the playing field needs to be level. If substitutes want to call themselves ‘leather’ they need to be up front about how they really measure up to the real thing right across the board.