Dr Mike Redwood

The consequences of urbanisation are with us

Redwood Comment
Published:  24 April, 2019

Urbanisation has now been widely recognised by all in business and politics as a longstanding major trend and is often used in a general way to pretend an awareness of the realities of the world we live in. Like globalisation and sustainability, it is loosely defined and open to manipulation in ways more sinister than merely to offer respectability for doubtful arguments.  

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Dr Mike Redwood

Time to give our fullest backing to our administrators

Redwood Comment
Published:  17 April, 2019

I learned recently that the leather industry sorted out its definition of leather back in 1978 at an International Council of Tanners meeting in Buenos Aires. It now exists, more or less unchanged, as EN15987:2015 and is to be found in the International Council of Tanners Glossary (ICT), in much the same form as the old UK BS standard I have often discussed.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Water is not the issue it is made out to be

Redwood Comment
Published:  10 April, 2019

“Regardless of how much steak you eat, the world is not going to run out of water”. This quote comes from Dr. Judith Thornton, the Low Carbon Manager (BEACON) at Aberystwyth University. Previously, she researched water footprinting and water efficiency at Leeds University and has held many significant positions in the Environmental sector in Europe. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

The leather network is invaded by alien materials

Redwood Comment
Published:  03 April, 2019

Networking is mostly considered as something to be done with a wineglass in hand and a clutch of name cards. It is viewed as about job hunting through building relationships with senior people in the sectors where they want to work.

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Image credit: Samuel Scrimsh

Banning exotic leather in fashion hurts snakes and crocodiles in the long run

Worldwide
Published:  28 March, 2019

Co-written by Daniel Natusch a practicing Research Scientist and Conservation Biologist; Grahame Webb, Chair of the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, and a member of the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group and Rick Shine, Ecologist and Conservation Biologist and a Professor in Biology at Macquarie University. The article was first published on the website, The Conversation, with permission to republish on the ILM website.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Time to change the game, and the language

Redwood Comment
Published:  27 March, 2019

If there is ever a time to change the narrative about leather it is now. Throughout the 20th century, leather was something that tanners produced and sales staff sold.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Cooperation in the ascendancy

Redwood Comment
Published:  20 March, 2019

After years of watching growing collaboration and convergence around the world, I have returned from the Asia Pacific Leather Fair (APLF) with a new word on top of mind: conflict. It was raised first by Ralph Goodstone, the Vice Chair of the Ethical Fashion Forum, at the Sustainable Fashion Conference APLF Workshop which hid itself away in a far corner of Hall 3F.

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Dr Michael Redwood

A Leather Industry Icon

Redwood Comment
Published:  12 March, 2019

This feels like one of the most important Hong Kong Asia Pacific Leather Fairs we have ever had, which is a profound comment given the significance of APLF in guiding the leather industry towards China in the late 20th century. But, with some raw material being valued at less than US$0.30 per piece and others as “worthless” according to a recent webinar podcast, leather is challenged today like never before. It will be a hectic and worrisome week.

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Dr Mike Redwood

The state of mind regarding the state of trade

Redwood Comment
Published:  05 March, 2019

After Lineapelle there were mixed views about the state of trade. While everyone thought things were poor there were those who viewed the downturn as merely a cyclical matter, while others saw it as a more permanent structural change.

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Dr Mike Redwood

The Circular Economy means using longer, and longer

Redwood Comment
Published:  26 February, 2019

When many people talk about the Circular Economy they think only of end of life. Then how an article can be broken into technical and organic elements to be fully re-utilised, rather than disposed of or recycled into some sub-optimal use.

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Dr Mike Redwood

What is leather?

Redwood Comment
Published:  20 February, 2019

An industry regulator in the EU awarded a buyer of a used Mercedes sizeable compensation for buying a car advertised as upholstered in leather, when in fact it was largely a PU coated textile of some sort. There were a couple of disappointing elements involved.

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Dr Mike Redwood

The legacy of Robert Sykes

Redwood Comment
Published:  13 February, 2019

It is twenty-seven years since the late Dr Robert Sykes retired. He died last October at the age of 89 and was remembered on February 11 at a luncheon in London. He started his studies in leather at Leeds University around 1947 and graduated after a PhD in the early 1950s. He went to work in Africa and then returned to the UK and became head of Science at Leathersellers College in London.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Saving leather from the vegan agenda

Redwood Comment
Published:  06 February, 2019

Although it is only a couple of weeks on, we need to consider the dietary attacks against livestock once more. In the UK, the vegan community promoted a vegan January and have quickly evolved this into a push for a dairy-free February. This includes a campaign element where they have published on line a list of dairy farms where they want people to go and demonstrate against keeping animals, and to try and photograph animals being mismanaged.

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Dr Mike Redwood

The technological core of the leather industry

Redwood Comment
Published:  30 January, 2019

How about a treasure hunt?  What we are looking for is the technological and engineering core of the leather industry. Where can we find it? It used to be in the hands of tanners and their colleagues. Schultz working in New York with Booths on chromium, Turney Wood scurrying around with dog faeces in his tannery in Nottingham, England looking for pancreatic enzymes.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Who is going to defend meat?

Redwood Comment
Published:  23 January, 2019

This is the week of Davos when the great and the good attend the World Economic Forum to resolve the world’s problems in the luxurious Swiss setting. There are a few to sort out.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Leather - from overcapacity to oversupply

Redwood Comment
Published:  15 January, 2019

Fifty years ago, there were too many tanneries. Overcapacity was the major underlying problem of the leather industry, and it was a major reason why tanneries had low margins. The situation got worse as new tanneries were built in emerging areas, faster than old ones closed in the developed world.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Plastic fantastic goes from hero to zero

Redwood Comment
Published:  09 January, 2019

When Leather Naturally first argued that we needed to promote leather and fight off the pretender materials with their misrepresentation we were told that leather was too unique to be involved. Every hide and skin available was available and used and “marketing” would only upset the delicate pricing structure in an a curious “closed” market.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Leather and the experience economy

Redwood Comment
Published:  02 January, 2019

Buying and selling companies for billions of dollars has become commonplace, often creating massive concentration and oligopoly in markets. When LVMH spends over US$3 billion for a train and hotel business, first established with the visionary purchase of a loss-making hotel and a couple of old train carriages, even the leather industry needs to look up.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Let’s start kicking butt

Redwood Comment
Published:  19 December, 2018

We are in the last days of a momentous year. For the first time, the industry has openly acknowledged that selling leather was difficult. It is no longer a given that every hide and skin collected will be made into leather.… and it will sell. 

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Romeu Couros

Leather and innovation

Redwood Comment
Published:  13 December, 2018

By accident today I ended up in a theoretical discussion on innovation. A hundred years ago tanneries used to trademark their strong selling leathers, and twenty or thirty years ago, the top tanners supported their most innovative products with heavy branding and promotion. “Heavy” in leather industry terms, anyway.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Leather is a complex brand

Redwood Comment
Published:  05 December, 2018

I spent most of the day yesterday working with an Executive MBA Class on brand authenticity and repositioning. To be in the course, the students combine academic requirements with considerable business experience. They are mostly quite senior people, so everything gets critically evaluated.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Science must be to the fore

Redwood Comment
Published:  28 November, 2018

It is argued that the high status of scientific opinion in society began to disintegrate with the failure of nylon shirts to offer the benefits promised to consumers in terms of comfort and convenience; and creating the hydrogen bomb did not particularly endear scientists to the world either.

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Martin Ricker

Why now is the perfect time to source sustainable leather

ILM Comment
Published:  22 November, 2018

On November 15, I gave a short presentation at the Leather & Sustainability in Retail conference in central London to highlight why I believe that now is a good time to source sustainable, well-made leather. Over 90 delegates were present with the majority representing brands and retailers. ILM co-organised the half-day event with BLC | Eurofins and here is a summary.

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Joseph Turney Wood died in November 1924

The place for research

Redwood Comment
Published:  21 November, 2018

“Research work is the sole true source of industrial progress.” This quote comes from a valedictory panegyry (I think this is the 1920s way of saying Remembrance Service) by the grandly titled Grande Uff. Ettore Andreis given by him twice in 1925, once in Turin and again in Paris where it was before the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers. It was published as a booklet, and in The Leather Trades Review.

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European tanners visit China 25 years ago

Change while we were sleeping

Redwood Comment
Published:  14 November, 2018

A look around the world of leather these days, be it at a trade fair, a convention or seminar, is enough to see that while we have been busy worrying about generational changes among consumers, there has been a similar change going on in the leather industry itself.

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Dr Mike Redwood

What is happening with leather garments?

Redwood Comment
Published:  07 November, 2018

Every year the catwalk shows feature leather in some way or another. This year for men, the rich and famous are switching from shearling to a more formal trench coat design mostly using brightly finished leathers with quite a high polish. These coats start at around US$4,000, slide upwards to US$15,000 and are, consequently, not intended to hit high volumes.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Little (leather) things matter

Redwood Comment
Published:  31 October, 2018

I was given a reusable water bottle last week by a UK tanner. It is unusual in my life these days to get a gift from a company, and this one is particularly useful. Many years ago, gifts of this sort were nearly always small leather goods - wallets, diaries, leather covered clothes brushes, shoe polishing cases and the like.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Free trade and democracy are diminishing targets

Redwood Comment
Published:  24 October, 2018

For as long as anyone can remember the U.S. and the EU tanning industry has been pushing for free trade on a global basis. The belief was that, at the end of the day, free trade pulled everyone up. At the same time, it was felt that as emerging markets traded more and became richer they would be pushed towards western style democracy by their better educated citizens.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Corporate Social Responsibility and Leather

Redwood Comment
Published:  17 October, 2018

I find great satisfaction in the simplicity of Carroll’s pyramid of Corporate Social Responsibility. It is simple and easy to understand. It is not a rule, but like so many good business management tools it is a framework that serves as a guide to help both understand and uncover what is going on.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Every worker is entitled to a safe workplace

Redwood Comment
Published:  10 October, 2018

If you have a moment you should check out https://oiraproject.eu/en/oira-tools and search for leather and tannery. OiRA stands for Online Interactive Risk Assessment and is a tool to guide the tanner through worker risks in the tannery. Luc Triangle, the head of the IndustriALL trade union organisation that partnered with Cotance (Confederation of National Associations of Tanners and Dressers of the European Community) on this EU funded project over the past five years, concluded the final conference on completion simply summing up by saying that “every worker is entitled to go to a safe workplace every day”.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Noisy about leather

Redwood Comment
Published:  03 October, 2018

Everyone has heard the story of the boiling frog where it sits in a pan of water without recognising that it was slowly getting warmer and stays complacent until the water is too hot, and it is too late. I often wonder about the leather industry at the start of the 20th century when technological changes such as the use of electricity, the internal combustion engine and the arrival of chrome tanning were all happening at once.

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Martin Ricker

Lineapelle observations

Editorial Comment
Published:  02 October, 2018

In the raw materials part of the leather supply chain last week, all the discussions which took place in Milan were downbeat and all hide suppliers who expressed an opinion expect raw materials prices to go lower in the coming weeks and months, with the exception of some demanded selections which are heavier or top grades.

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Dr Mike Redwood

A world that never learns

Redwood Comment
Published:  26 September, 2018

Anyone who observes modern politics know how little we seem to learn from history. Be it economics, warfare, taxation or trade we have developed an approach to life that excels in repeating our mistakes. The problem in the modern communicative, globalised world is that these errors have much greater impact, much faster than ever before. Just think about the 2008 financial crash.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Innovation is more than a fancy new product

Redwood Comment
Published:  19 September, 2018

It was good to see the famous leather name of Colomer being bought by Chanel a few days ago, even though I am not quite clear from all the announcements what has actually been purchased.

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Redwood Comment

Service Economy breathes life into products

Redwood Comment
Published:  12 September, 2018

I have today bought a new outdoor jacket capable of allowing me to withstand the rain and cold that comes with the UK hills and mountains. For the first time, I was looking for a Páramo brand item to do the job. I have watched Páramo for a while as it is totally PFC (perfluorinated compounds) free and highly ethical.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Getting the name right

Redwood Comment
Published:  05 September, 2018

At the recent All China Leather Exhibition (ACLE) in Shanghai a speaker at the Shanghai Shake-Up Conference argued that the time had come for the leather industry to wake up to reality and to work alongside some of the new competitive materials, while not being too precious about the term “leather”.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Convergence, collaboration and consolidation

Redwood Comment
Published:  28 August, 2018

Anyone who is interested in business-to-business marketing knows that in most sectors there was huge consolidation in nearly all industries between 1965 and the 1990s. Industry after industry moved from being highly competitive to an oligopoly, where three or four businesses held around two thirds of the global market and a long tail of little companies chased along behind with the crumbs.

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Mike Redwood

A thoughtful Fashion Week would headline leather as the best modern material

Redwood comment
Published:  22 August, 2018

England grew wealthy in the Middle Ages because of wool. With the merino breed not yet created English wool was sought after as among the finest available; for hundreds of years after the Norman Conquest exports of wool were a cornerstone of the economy. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

Leather is real

The Redwood comment
Published:  15 August, 2018

There was a time after the Internet got going when our global society was comprised of analogues, digital converts and digital natives. This was a time when the older generation did not like the demands of e-mail, being forced into the world of Microsoft Office and were suspicious about transferring a lifetime of knowledge into an over-weight laptop.

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Dr Mike Redwood

The significance of plastics

Redwood Comment
Published:  08 August, 2018

I first began to understand the significance of plastic in 1966. Three of us, one each from the three British Leather Schools in London, Leeds and Northampton, had won a Kids Tanner prize for a three-week trip visiting the leather industry in the Netherlands and Germany.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Think of the animals and be surprised

Redwood Comment
Published:  01 August, 2018

When I go for a walk from my home, built some 250 years ago in the English countryside, I have two choices. One way I can walk for many kilometres over arable land, where almost every area has been taken to grow a wide variety of constantly rotating crops. In the other direction, a long walk towards the coast over land which is largely at sea level or below; I go through long term grassland and light scrub, lightly grazed by sheep or, far more frequently, cattle.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Ignore the logic and appeal to the emotions

Redwood Comment
Published:  25 July, 2018

Do not throw anything to do with your company history away. It is your history. It is what proves your authenticity. It is your backstory.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Big data concepts

Redwood Comment
Published:  18 July, 2018

One of the concepts behind industry 4.0 involves holding, using and sharing large quantities of data to facilitate the speed and efficiency of supply networks. This allows direct contact with a supplier when key inputs, needles for a sewing machine for example, require replenishing. An extreme example would be a Rolls Royce aero engine in a large passenger jet sending diagnostic data during a transatlantic flight to their headquarters in real time.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Imperfection is essential

Redwood Comment
Published:  10 July, 2018

Once upon a time when Lineapelle was held in Bologna I travelled into Florence on that interminably slow train from the station next to the fairground. My companion was a major manufacturer of leather goods whose primary factory was in China. We discussed the attitude of the brands to having articles made in China.

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Dr Mike Redwood

A new proposition is needed for leather

Redwood Comment
Published:  04 July, 2018

When Procter & Gamble bought Gillette for US$57 billion in 2005, it created the world's largest consumer brand business with combined sales at the time of above US$60 billion a year. They had 21 brands that each boasted annual sales of more than US$1 billion; five of Gillette's brands and 16 of P&G's.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Diligent journalists get to the real facts

Redwood Comment
Published:  27 June, 2018

The past five years has involved relentless pushing back against entrenched anti-livestock and anti-leather opinions, forcibly argued. A lot of this was trying to correct errors in the science being presented by NGOs, which had the danger of being widely accepted since they are respected bodies. It was also felt that whereas an animal rights group, PETA or any other, is absolutist in its thinking and is not interested in anything that cannot be manipulated to support their case, NGOs, however, should be more open to reason.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Millennials in charge

Redwood Comment
Published:  20 June, 2018

Spending by the millennial generation, globally, has long since swept past that of the boomer generation and is accelerating fast. Maybe it does “suck to have been born between 1980 and 2000” as Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days suggests, but this is the group that is now leading consumer spending and relentlessly moving into positions of power in industry and politics.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Leather is as organic as can be

Redwood Comment
Published:  13 June, 2018

If something is to be called organic, it should contain carbon and (in terms of the dictionary definitions) be related to or derived from living matter. So, if you are a consumer who wants to wear natural, organic materials you should be buying leather. There is not an argument here; this is just a fact.

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Dr Mike Redwood

There are two models for the circular economy

Redwood Comment
Published:  06 June, 2018

When ‘Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking the way we make things’ was first published by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, their approach to a circular economy was promoted as a major breakthrough. Indeed, at the time, the jump from a linear economy based on making, using and disposing was a huge step, given that individual consumption was growing exponentially, as was the global population.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Cities are getting bigger

Redwood Comment
Published:  30 May, 2018

What is a city?  It is a question often asked and one the tanning community should have some interest in. Recent studies show that large cities in emerging markets might grow far beyond the 32 million predicted by Danny Dorling, which I discussed here back in 2014. The 2100 projections include Lagos (88.3), Kinshasa (83.5), Dar es Salaam (73.7), Mumbai (67.2), Delhi (57.3) and even Kabul (50.2). This excludes the big Chinese coastal regions such as Shanghai and Guangzhou where the metropolitan, urban and administrative areas all vary creating a number for Guangzhou, which today jumps from 12 to 44 million depending on definition.

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