Textile Exchange has defined "leather" as an entity. The definition assumes significance in the backdrop of many companies using the "leather" suffix to identify their own alternative materials.
Textile Exchange has decided to define leather according to the following criteria, aligning with the EU directive 94/11/EC, ISO 15115, and EN 15987:2015:
- A hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact and tanned so it does not rot
- Either with or without hair or wool attached
- Inclusive of hides or skin split into layers or segmented either before or after tanning
- With any surface coating or surface layer no thicker than 0.15 mm.
The Announcement: Textile Exchange did not announce this major redefinition through a statement.
- The decision, instead, was communicated through the November 2022 newsletter.
Words of Caution:
- The term “recycled leather" should only be used if the fibre structure remains intact during the recycling process.
- Leather disintegrated into fibrous particles, small pieces or powders and combined or not with chemical binding agents, and made into sheets, with a minimum amount of 50% in weight of dry leather fibres should be referred to as “recycled leather fibre.”
Just Not Leather: Materials that do not meet the definition above will not be described by Textile Exchange as leather, regardless of any past designation or common usage of the term.
- There is currently a gap in the legal framing of the classification and naming of the diverse materials sold as alternative materials to leather.
- This leads to misleading labelling where a fossil-based synthetic material could be referred to in the same way as an innovative plant-based material, making it difficult for a consumer to differentiate the two.
- Textile Exchange is encouraging policymakers to close this gap.
- For now, these diverse manmade materials, fully or partially plant-based will be grouped in the ‘Manmade non-fibre materials’ category of the organisation's reports and programmes, until further legal guidance on the naming and categorisation of these materials is available.
How They Reacted:
This is a significant step forward in market transparency and consumer labelling. For too long, fashion and footwear brands have hidden the true materials profile of their products from consumers by using ambiguous and misleading terms such as ‘vegan leather.’ We thank Textile Exchange for taking such an important step to promote truth in labelling and hope the organisation’s member brands will embrace increased transparency in consumer marketing.
— Stephen Sothmann
Leather and Hide Council of America
Fantastic to see that the Textile Exchange has taken an important step by clarifying the definition of leather.
— LinkedIn handle