Leather's natural tendency to decompose means that it has traditionally been treated with a cocktail of chemicals, with no solid worldwide consensus on what constitutes acceptable levels of tanning agents in finished products. The Leather Standard label by OEKO-TEX makes sure that consumers can now buy leather goods with confidence, while giving compliant manufacturers a globally recognised means by which to advertise their wares as certified safe.
Ever improving global living standards are generating increased wealth and purchasing power for consumers. As the world gets a little richer, demand is stimulated for non-essentials like fashion items, and particularly for luxury goods made from natural materials. In fact, the fashion industry has created a steady demand for footwear and other leather products for decades.
As leather goods become more popular and widely accessible, consumers expect more from the products they buy. Gone are the days when pairs of high-fashion leather shoes were worn once, then discarded; products are expected to last.
Leather is natural, though, and is meant to decompose, which is a problem for durability. The answer is chemistry; the industry uses various tanning processes that treat leather with a host of chemicals, including hexavalent chromium salts, aniline, azo dyes, lead, cyanide, formaldehyde, tannins, solvents, formaldehyde and chlorophenols.
Everyone in leather knows that adding chemicals introduces the potential for headaches and problems. First, there is a growing demand from consumers for textiles and leather goods that are as unadulterated as possible to minimise any risk to health. Next, the supply chain is complex; who is monitoring the management of chemicals globally? Finally, the legal requirements governing harmful agents in textiles and leather goods vary across countries.
In December 2016, the world's foremost textile standards body, the International OEKO-TEX Association, responded to demands from retailers selling leather items by adding the new Leather Standard product label to its extensive testing and certification system.
This will distinguish products that meet the strict critreria laid down by OEKO-TEX, which go far beyond national and international standards.
The organisation's goals are to create a world-class level of product safety and reliability from the consumer's perspective, and to enable manufacturers of leather goods in all stages of production to distinguish their products by showing that they have been tested for harmful substances.
Expect the Leather Standard by OEKO-TEX label to become a reliable decision-making tool for consumers. The label will be equated with a feeling of confidence that the product being purchased is free from harmful levels of chemicals.
Many manufacturers, brands and retailers are interested in a new message when it comes to leather, perhaps something that signifies their commitment to providing products that have been tested and verified as free from harmful levels of problematic substances. The Leather Standard by OEKO-TEX makes this key communication point possible. Consumers can have confidence that the leather goods they are buying have been rigorously scrutinised in order to its label. ?