U.S. Leather Industry Applauds Adoption of ‘Leather’ Definition by Textile Exchange
The Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA), the trade body representing the U.S. hide, skin, and leather industry, applauds fashion industry standards and certification organization Textile Exchange for its recent adoption of an official definition of “leather” as a material created from the hide or skin of an animal. LHCA encourages other organizations and companies in the fashion and footwear sectors to follow suit in order to encourage increased transparency in materials labeling.
According to a statement issued to its membership on Thursday, November 3rd, 2022, Textile Exchange adopted widespread legal terminology for the definition of ‘leather,’ noting that it is aligning with the EU directive 94/11/EC, ISO 15115, and EN 15987:2015, which state that “leather” is defined as “a hide or skin with its original fibrous structure more or less intact and tanned so it does not rot.”
“This is a significant step forward in market transparency and consumer labeling,” said Stephen Sothmann, President of the Leather and Hide Council of America. “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 labeling and hope the organization’s member brands will embrace increased transparency in consumer marketing.”
Textile Exchange’s notice further stated “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.” This decision impacts the labeling of products on the market typically described a “vegan leather,” “mushroom leather,” “fruit leather,” and other derivatives made primarily of plastics, plants, fungi, and a wide range other materials that are often not disclosed to consumers.
A July 2022 consumer survey conducted in the United Kingdom found that 54% of consumers were confused by marketing terminology such as “vegan leather” and could not properly identify the material’s composition.
The Leather and Hide Council of America (LHCA) is a full-service industry trade association representing the entire U.S. leather supply chain, including meatpackers, hides and skins processors, traders, leather tanners, finished leather goods producers, footwear companies, and more. The association provides its members with government, public relations, and international trade assistance and support. LHCA is a cooperator organization under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s foreign market development programs, assisting U.S. firms develop new markets for U.S. agricultural exports.