9 August 2023
With the industry in a quiet period, a new edition of our Leatherbiz Market Intelligence newsletter, published on August 8, takes time to consider the treatment leather is receiving in mainstream media and in the public eye.
It focuses on a seemingly negative approach from automotive group BMW, but also on a more positive stance from major footwear groups.
BMW seems to dismiss leather in the promotion of its new-generation 5 Series cars. It makes claims that the properties and environmental performance of the non-leather material it is using in the interior of these vehicles exceed those of leather.
It announced last year that 2023 would be the year of its first completely vegan interiors and the new 5 Series is its fulfilment of that promise. It claimed: “Replacing leather reduces the CO2 emissions along the value chain for the respective interior components by around 85%.”
Market Intelligence expresses concern about what this means for the wider use of leather across BMW’s product range. If it is intent on presenting synthetic materials as superior to leather in its marketing of the new 5 Series, what message is it sending to buyers of its higher-range vehicles who expect to have leather in the interior and to pay more for it?
The newsletter also raises questions about BMW’s status as a member of the Leather Working Group; it joined at the start of 2022. The multi-stakeholder body’s role of promoting leather could b harmed by such a prominent member taking such a negative public position on the material.
On the plus-side, recent product descriptions from prominent footwear brands give greater grounds for optimism. The adidas AS 520 sports shoe is a case in point; it takes its inspiration from 1980s football culture and has leather uppers and leather lining. Retro is in for sneakers and casual shoes and, fortunately, this means ‘old’ materials are making a comeback in this market.