Operators interested in the leather sole industry, therefore, have the institutional duty to supply correct and exhaustive information about their products.

The final consumer often nurtures groundless prejudices of an ecological or animal welfare character toward leather and its derivatives because he is too little or ill-informed; efforts must be made to tell him about the ecological aspects of tanning and to remind him that cow hide is a waste product of the food industry which, if it were not tanned, would be disposed of. This way he will be made to value every single object in leather or sole leather more highly.

A survey carried out in Italy last year showed that over 70% of leather sole production is destined for ladies’ shoes. Fashion is a very important factor in this choice so for ‘The Beauty Underneath’ project, Vogue magazine was chosen as the main medium for advertising. With its different editions published in the most important countries in the world, Vogue is considered to be the Bible of the fashion industry.

The history of genuine leather sole (Vero Cuoio) advertising in Italy began in the ’60s when the producers of natural tannin extracts founded Promozione Cuoio, firmly believing that advertising addressed to the final consumer would influence the materials used by footwear producers.

The first commercials were simple, informative and in black and white but already at the end of the ’60s they began using tv stars and sport personalities to contribute to promoting the Vero Cuoio trademark which was then adopted by all shoe manufacturers using leather soles.

In the ’70s, the younger consumers began turning their back on leather shoes, judging them too classic and formal. In response the campaigns began targeting adults, who equated leather with elegance and a high standard of living.

In 1988, the advertising campaign reflected the change to an increasingly fashion-led lifestyle and promoted a joyful lifestyle using youthful language. In the following years, too, images with a strong visual impact and a fast pace were used.

In the ’90s the challenge to win over sports shoes and synthetic soles became even more difficult. The strategy changed, emphasising the benefits of wearing shoes with a leather sole and on the natural characteristics of the material, in contrast to the disadvantages created by rubber soles.

Irony influenced the advertising campaigns of the leather sole in 1996: exaggerated, ironic images concerning foot comfort were used and feet became boiled potatoes, mature cheese and well done beefsteaks to describe what happens when you wear synthetic shoes all day long.

In 2000, feet wearing shoes with a leather sole became feet to be kissed and a means of seduction; the ‘Besame Mucho’ campaign used the sort of language used in commercials for perfumery and cosmetics so as to meet the needs of new consumers not just for physical comfort but also for aesthetic taste. The key point for the future of advertising of the leather sole is, in fact, the unity of the sector. For over 30 years, the producers of vegetable extracts, the tannins which are essential for making a genuine leather sole, have been working together to communicate with the final consumer.

Advertising the genuine leather sole has evolved over the years and while, initially, it was only addressed to the Italian public, today it addresses the most important foreign markets with a single, strong, and sophisticated message.

The subject of current ‘The Beauty Underneath’ campaign is a seductive young woman. Steeped in an atmosphere which evokes the warm, tactile sensations characteristic of leather, she is taking a rest but she doesn’t need to take her shoes off since they are leather with a genuine leather sole (Vero Cuoio).

ILP (International Leather Publicity) have already launched a fresh international press campaign. ‘The Beauty Underneath’ will appear in August, September and October in Vogue in France, Germany and the UK.

Given that the most beautiful shoes in the world have leather soles, they should no longer be taken for granted or merely perceived but finally recognised as part of the inner beauty of the shoe.

But fashion isn’t the only sector where the real leather sole is coming to the fore. Press office activities are about to start in England, France and Germany, which aim to inform the public about the importance of leather soles for ensuring comfortable and healthy feet.

Research conducted by ICEC, the Institute for the Quality Certification of materials for the tanning industry, has shown how feet wearing shoes made entirely from natural materials, leather and sole leather, are less subject to stress than feet in shoes made partially or entirely from synthetic materials.

International Leather Publicity projects are funded exclusively by the following vegetable extract producers:

* chestnut extract: Tanin International, Tanin Sevnica, Silvachimica

* mimosa extract: Mimosa Africa

* quebracho extract: Indunor, Unitan