Leather Lowdown: Fruit, Fungi and a Focus on Planet-Friendly Processing

Sourcing Journal

News of traditional leather’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.

Despite spiking demand for vegan and other eco-friendly alternatives—a trend that tracks with the growing consumer predilection for plant-based diets—cowhides, a byproduct of beef and dairy consumption, have continued to conduct brisk trade. This is especially true of the luxury sector, where high-quality leather remains synonymous with opulence, indulgence and expense.

The data appears to bear this out. Analysts at Grand View Research expect the global leather luxury goods market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 4.8 percent to reach $66.6 billion by 2025. Even other non-cow forms of leather—say, from discarded fish skins—haven’t budged cowhide from its perch. Adoption by brands such as Dior, Prada and Nike aside, fish leather remains “niche,” accounting for 1 percent of global leather sales, according to Lux analyst Cecilia Gee.

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