There has been a lot of hype over sustainability and fashion recently, but it is a bit more complex than it might seem. Sustainable fashion is a lot more than how the garment is made and what fabrics it is made from.
We know, for thousands of years leather has been used to create beautiful, long-lasting, and comfortable apparel. Leather is synonymous with luxury and elegance. But this was until people started to become wary of leather because of the unethical ways in which it was harvested till a couple of decades ago.
Leather is created through the tanning of animal skins. The process of tanning leather involves using various chemicals and treatments in order to preserve the skin and make it more durable.
Chrome tanning is the most commonly used method of tanning, as it is efficient and produces strong, flexible leather. The process begins by soaking the hide in a solution of chromium salts, which penetrate the hide and react with the proteins to form a cross-linked network. This network provides the leather with its strength and flexibility. The hide is then tanned in a second solution, which stabilizes the cross-linked network and prevents the hide from deteriorating. Finally, the hide is dried and finished to produce a strong, flexible leather that is resistant to water and abrasion.
While chrome tanning is efficient and produces a high-quality product, it is also harmful to the environment. The chromium used in chrome tanning is a heavy metal that can pollute water and soil. It can also be toxic to animals and humans. Wastewater from chrome tanning facilities is often released into the environment without being properly treated, leading to the contamination of local water sources.
In addition to the environmental impacts, chrome tanning has negative social and economic impacts. Traditional leather workers who are exposed to chromium are at risk of developing cancer. And, because the process uses large amounts of water, it can lead to water shortages in areas where it is practiced.
With increased awareness of environmental issues, there is also increased sensitivity toward animal rights. The production of leather from animal hides and using chemicals such as chromium for tanning is far from ethical and sustainable.
So, what is the alternative that takes a step towards a more environment-friendly and sustainable future?
The Best Alternative For A Better Future
We have heard a lot about how the fashion industry can be one of the most polluting industries in the world. But, wait.
Here comes the good news. Many brands have started implementing strong corporate social responsibility objectives and are building steps towards a more environmentally friendly future.
You can say that the future of fashion is sustainable, but how sustainable is leather fashion right now? There are lots of brands that are making sustainable leather in the fashion industry, including Hotch Potch.
Hotch Potch takes a step ahead and works with vegetable-tanned leather, a far better alternative to chrome-tanned leather, plus being environment-friendly and sustainable.
What is vegetable-tanned leather and how is it produced?
Vegetable-tanned leather is produced by soaking the hide in a mixture of water and tannins extracted from plants. This process can take weeks or even months, and the hide is frequently soaked and dried to speed up the process.
The tannins cause the hide to undergo a chemical reaction that makes it more durable and less susceptible to rot and mold. Vegetable tanning also gives the leather a unique appearance that can range from a light golden brown to a deep reddish brown.
Despite the longer production time, vegetable-tanned leather is prized by many leatherworkers for its natural look and feel. It is also more eco-friendly than chrome-tanned leather, which uses harsh chemicals that can pollute the environment.
Differences Between Chrome-tanned Leather and Vegetable-tanned Leather
Tanned using chromium salts
Tanned using tannin from plants
Faster and more efficient process
Slow and more tedious process
Produces a softer and more pliable leather that is less likely to shrink or warp
Produces a stronger and more durable leather
More susceptible to water damage and fading
Less likely to fade or suffer water damage
Given the advantages of vegetable-tanned leather, it is highly durable and will age beautifully over time. It is also breathable, hence making it a comfortable yet sustainable choice of material for any garment.
Making Leather Fashion Sustainable & Eco-Friendly
Nowadays, it is important to all of us that brands take steps to reduce their environmental impact. In fact, a recent study found that nearly two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for products that are environmentally and socially responsible.
We know, corporate social responsibility isn’t just being socially accountable to the people or making a profit. It involves taking care of the environment too, especially protecting the welfare of animals. Hence, Hotch Potch makes a conscious decision in choosing vegetable-tanned leather for its products.
The brand also take efforts in reducing wastage and promoting ways to reuse the leftover scraps in multiple ways. When a product is created, the leftover leather material is used to make smaller products such as pouches, wallets, etc. If there is any more material left further, the scraps are handed over to leather workers or tanneries where they can be recycled for other items.
Similarly, as for the products, they are not made in bulk but made to order. This means that each item is made specially according to the customer’s demands or specifications, and the manufacturing process of the product is started only after the order is confirmed. This helps conserve resources and reduce waste in the manufacturing and production process.
Thus, the brand ensures that there is responsible production, manufacturing, and packaging as well as zero wastage and a pollution-free environment.
We believe these attentive and concerted efforts by each of us at Hotch Potch will surely help build a sustainable future in the long run. As Margaret Mead says, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Ultimately, not only creating a sustainable future for all of us, but we are also able to closely connect with our customers, align with their values, and meet their needs better.