Northamptonshire is proud of its heritage as the UK’s centre for leather and shoe production for over one hundred years. Northampton has also been integral in providing education in the leather industry, giving academic and practical experiences to a wide variety of students and employees, at all stages of their careers.

The dedication of the county to preserving and maintaining its leather legacy continues. A new collaborative partnership, comprising of The International Museum of Leathercraft, the Leather Conservation Centre and the University of Northampton’s Institute for Creative Leather Technology will, at ACLE Shanghai leather fair, launch a proposal to create an International Centre for Leather. Positioned as a global centre of excellence, the International Centre for Leather will provide a unique opportunity for Northamptonshire to demonstrate ongoing commitment to the leather industry, bringing together education, research, development and innovation, conservation and heritage, creative fashion and design.

"The close juxtaposing of all the aspects of the supply chain means that each will be enriched by the others, allowing new relationships and creative ideas to be generated," says Rachel Garwood, director of the University of Northampton’s Institute for Creative Leather. "In this way, those activities will be future-proofed. The proposed centre will become the world’s ‘one-stop shop’ for information, insight and inspiration, making Northamptonshire the most important global source of leather and leather-related information."

This project is a bold vision of linking academia with industry, the environment, fashion and cultural heritage. There will be nothing like this anywhere else in the world.