22 Nov 2022
The chief executive of footwear group Ecco, Panos Mytaros, has told Leatherbiz that the company remains committed to producing and using leather, writes Leatherbiz.
He made the comments in the wake of an announcement that the group’s tanning division, Ecco Leather, which Mr Mytaros used to run, had entered into an agreement with a New York-based mycelium technology provider, Ecovative. The two companies announced on November 11 that they would work together to develop mycelium materials for use in a range of finished products.
Panos Mytaros explained that Ecco Leather had already spent seven years looking into the possibility of making a new material that was “grown from nature”, but non-animal-based as well as free from polyurethane and other plastics.
“The world needs polyurethane-free material,” the Ecco chief executive said. But he said that no one should interpret this development as a move away from leather on Ecco’s part. He said it was simply a question of giving consumers the variety they want.
“People can interpret things however they want, but this is not an alternative to leather,” he said of the mycelium material. “We are clear that Ecco Leather is a leather maker and our commitment to leather remains. But we are a leather maker that pushes innovation and is trying to make an old-fashioned industry modern.”
He said Ecco Leather would continue its efforts to help leather claim its place in the circular economy, but he added that he feared circular innovations the company has already come up with, mentioning the DriTan tanning technology it introduced in 2018 as an example, were receiving less attention than they deserve.
At the time of its launch, Ecco Leather said DriTan would allow it to save 250 million litres of water per year at its tannery in the Netherlands.