That’s what an Italian company called Gazzoni Ecologia uses as their slogan to promote the sales of what they call ‘a collection of ecological footwear, which loves the environment, doesn’t use animal skins and which is recyclable. Fashion that respects nature.’

As you can see from the copy of the rather disgusting ad, the eye catching element is feet covered in blood. Although for obvious reasons preferring leather, I have nothing against shoes made from micro-fibre.

It is just one of those industrial niches which create a product and give work to people. It looks very nice on paper and specially for tree-huggers who don’t look further than their nose, that the footwear and, later next year, accessories such as handbags and still later garments can be recycled and turned into anti-trauma floors for schools, after first being produced from recycled plastic bottles. It is underlined by an Italian ecological association that these shoes are produced ‘without the poisonous tanning with chrome salts’.

The whole message is again that our industry is a bunch of murderers and environment polluters. So I wrote the following e-mail to, something other people might also want to do and thus make the company aware that they are into misinformation.


I would like to refer to your advertisement campaign ‘Fashion senza victims’ which has been brought to my attention.

Let me introduce myself: I am a columnist of Leather International Magazine and I write a monthly column called Limeblast. One of the purposes of my column is to contradict damaging and untrue publicity to the public as in your campaign and to defend our industry by telling the truth. In fact you may expect an article to appear in Leather International that denounces the fact that your campaign is aimed at the ignorance of the general public, and that the underlying message is untrue, false and damaging to the leather industry.

In case you are not aware of the ecological function of leather processing, let me inform you, in short form, how ecological our industry is and how un-ecological your campaign is. 95+% of the leather used for shoes and non-fur garments originates from slaughter animals. The animals are killed for their meat, including deer, crocodile, ostrich, chicken, frogs and fish. The hide or skin is a byproduct of the slaughter operation representing, with few exceptions, not more than 5% of the value of the live animal.

Hides and skins once removed from the carcase of the slaughtered animal become a perishable product and, hence, a hazard for public health, unless the hide or skin is preserved and subsequently processed into leather.

If the millions of hides and skins which are obtained as a byproduct of a meat processing operation were not transformed into leather, you would look at mountains of putrefying products, which would represent a truly ecological disaster. Due to the sheer volume, hides and skins can neither be buried nor incinerated but why should you, when by transforming them into leather you provide a natural product which is safe and healthy to wear and has few or no side-effects.

Let me inform you as well that the leather industry in the developed world is very environment conscious. In fact, virtually all leather processing plants discharge ‘clean’ effluent water which is no hazard at all for the environment. Billions of euros have been spent since 1960 and water treatment plants in the leather industry are amongst the most advanced in the world.

Yours sincerely etc etc

No answer! Obviously like Peta, Aequa doesn’t pursue the truth. They are after publicity to sell their product and to make money. It is reported that in order to set up this ecological shoe company, some €5 million were invested by people who have shown in the past they know how to make money in the non-sugar sweetener industry, as well as in the soccer industry. I doubt that these €5 million were set aside to help humanity. I can admire such undertakings and would only wish I’d been so clever as to have such a brilliant idea myself. But admiration stops when the interest of other people are trampled and misrepresented.

Although my relationship with Unic fluctuates, I think that we should put our efforts together and inform the public, in this case the Italian public, that the heralded ecology will obtain exactly the opposite effect if leather was not used any longer and if raw hides and skins were left unused.

Furthermore I think, that it would not be a bad idea if Unic would tackle these people as they give a totally false picture of the leather industry, which has neither blood on its hands nor on its feet. In times when it is already extremely difficult to maintain our industrial position, we don’t need a false image. Our industry provides an ecological service, in addition to fashionable natural products.

And that’s the truth!

No problem as far as I am concerned that people make money from products that launch a new idea, but it should not be at the expense of the only natural product, the shoe made of real leather, through false accusations. Aequa, who laud themselves for recycling plastic bottles into shoes and other consumer items in the future, do help ecology but not to the extent our industry does by keeping hides and skins off the street.

A plastic bottle, which has a stable chemical formula over the years, is not a health hazard like a putrefying hide. Maybe the leather industry should put more weight behind the fact that our industry is environment friendly. Personally I have seen no publicity campaign that deals with leather, that actually encompasses the environmental issue. It seems we are keeping this aspect of the industry as far away from the public as possible. Maybe there is a reason for this that I ignore. Anyway we remain on the defensive when it comes to the environment and in my view we should be on the offensive. The best defence is the offence.

Sam Setter