Dr Mike Redwood

The decline of cut and sew

The Redwood Column
Published:  11 August, 2017

This article was first published in the July-August 2017 edition of ILM print and digital.Tutankhamen had a pair of gloves. In fact, I am sure he had lots of gloves. They were important symbols of power; and he had it all. Most sensible modern countries try and separate the church, the judiciary and the state but in those early days they were combined so that meant lots of gloves for Tutankhamen.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Gloversville was not that different from Hazaribagh

The Redwood Column
Published:  09 August, 2017

This article was first published in ILM March-April 2017 edition. Just a few days ago, one of the many small businesses that have been strongly supporting the work of LeatherNaturally! sent us an article about Gloversville. For readers that have never heard of Gloversville, and perhaps there are one or two, it is a small town in upstate New York on the long highway west of Albany, the capital of New York State.

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Mike Redwood

Where does leather fit into the future?

The Redwood Column
Published:  04 August, 2017

Article first published in ILM print and digital edition, May-June 2017. 

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Mike Redwood

Better prepared for the unexpected

Redwood Column – First published in the Jan/Feb edition of ILM
Published:  13 March, 2017

When the 21st century was predicted to be the Pacific century, it was not expected that the 17th year of the century would start looking like it is. While the geography of trade and politics has indeed changed, it has been in a quite different way and, even that, has been wildly stirred by unpredicted political trends all round the world; upending assumptions about all sorts of economic and societal trends. Article first published in ILM January-February 2017 print and digital app edition. 

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Mike Redwood

Buy less and buy better

Article first published in ILM Nov/Dec 2016 print/digital edition
Published:  01 February, 2017

There will be a few people who will read this that remember saving up to buy things. In a world of over communication, of intense branding and of the retail pressure, associated with what is called fast-fashion, it is hard to remember the time when buying new things was a slow linear process that involved research and consideration before going to the store to part with hard earned money. 

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Mike Redwood

Theory alone will not help you

Redwood Column – first published in ILM Sept/Oct 2016 edition
Published:  19 October, 2016

The teaching of economics in UK Universities took a knock after the financial crash of 2008. As the months passed students were first curious, then furious that it was never mentioned in lectures, and that exam questions were purely theoretical, and unrelated to real life situations. In one University after another, the students set up pressure groups to demand a different approach to the subject. 

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Mike Redwood

A look at science in the tannery

Redwood column
Published:  17 August, 2016

First published in ILM July-August 2016 edition. Last month I bought a new car. Like all the cars I have purchased in the years since I stopped having a company car, it is diesel. The decision was encouraged by our government asking us to buy diesel cars, and offering tax incentives to do so, as they said this was better for the environment.

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Mike Redwood

Tanners should drop “disruption” talk

The Redwood Column
Published:  05 August, 2016

Article first published in ILM May-June 2016 print edition. The new buzzword these days seems to be disruption. It is a word that came into business use when “disruptive innovation” was first mentioned by the Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen in his book ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ in the 1990s. 

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Mike Redwood

Barriers to trade impede clear thinking

Redwood Column - First published in ILM March-April 2016 edition
Published:  23 May, 2016

There is an economic rule called “the 2:1 rule” that was steadily maintained since the 1950s until 2008. It says that world trade volume grows around twice the pace of global GDP. For example, between 1990 and 2008, global GDP expanded at an annual rate of 3.2% while world trade volume growth was 6.0%. Since 2008 the slump knocked things off course but, until recently, the formula was expected to steadily come back as world economies settled down.

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Mike Redwood

People matter

Redwood Column - First published in ILM Jan-Feb 2016 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

As the leather industry continues to consolidate and modernise, more and more managers are obtaining MBAs and other advanced qualifications in business management.

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Mike Redwood

We are in danger of letting the competition in

Redwood Column - First published in ILM Nov-Dec 2015 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

I feel fortunate to have worked for the Booth Group and to be able to call myself a “Booth Man”. Sadly, I was involved towards the end of this company, which for over 100 hundred exciting years became one of the biggest and most global tanning histories ever, along with a key role in getting chrome tanning commercialised worldwide.

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Mike Redwood

Cycling to action

Redwood Column - First published in ILM Sep-Oct 2015 edition
Published:  14 March, 2016

Along time ago, I worked for a company where our Chairman decided to pronounce that we were now able to “manage the cyclical nature of the industry”. We had just completed a rare few years of good results and he thought this showed an ability to control all the complex things thrown at tanners.

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Mike Redwood

Future success depends on the right position

Redwood Column - First published in ILM July/Aug 2015 edition
Published:  01 February, 2016

A few years ago, senior industry figures became aggravated about the intense and inaccurate attacks that were being made on leather and, as a result, we established Leather Naturally! There were many sceptics and anyone who heard or read what I said to an ICT (International Council of Tanners’) meeting back in the mid 1990s would know my thoughts

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Mike Redwood

We must be honest about leather and fur

The Redwood Column
Published:  11 June, 2015

Article first published in ILM March-April 2015 edition. Studying leather science at University we did not ignore fur, but went into no depth about it. I did have a classmate who was partially involved in the trade, so I took the opportunity a few years later to visit a mink farm in Ireland for a look. 

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Mike Redwood

The value in use is what matters

The Redwood Column
Published:  28 March, 2015

Article first published in ILM January-February 2015 edition. We do not buy goods to get goods. We buy them for the benefits they provide: the things they do for us, or we can do with them. These benefits might be functional, like clothes to keep us warm or phones to communicate with, but increasingly they include less tangible elements such as supporting our self image, social connectedness, or being a brand we just enjoy using and owning. Tanners should not forget that word “connoisseurship”. 

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Mike Redwood

Supporting the farmer

The Redwood Column
Published:  05 February, 2015

Article first published ILM November-December 2014 edition page 12. The UK leather industry is small compared to what it was 100 years ago. Consequently, it is pretty exciting when it hits the mainstream media – well, a farming programme on BBC Radio at 6am is pretty close to mainstream is it not? 

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Mike Redwood

Well-made leather is sustainable: total Brundtland

The Redwood Column
Published:  11 November, 2014

Our fundamental battle is to prove leather to be value for money against competitive materials. It is not the moment to see the competition only as other tanners, although in a narrow sense that might be true. We live in a competitive world and one leather offering will always be compared with others so the buyer can be sure they are getting a fair deal. Yet it is vital that we keep in mind the war going on with competitive materials. 

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Mike Redwood

Leather is quite an exceptional material

The Redwood Column
Published:  25 September, 2014

Leather is quite an exceptional material. It comes from a source that keeps on breeding, and will continue to breed regardless of whether we eat meat or drink milk. Unless, of course, we decide to eliminate all animals, which appears to actually be the PETA plan. Despite some negative campaigning there is no real doubt that meat and dairy products are good for a balanced diet and a close relationship between tanners and the livestock industry is a great strength for all parties.

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Mike Redwood

Leather quality starts at the source

The Redwood Column
Published:  13 August, 2014

Traceability came to the fore when Greenpeace decided to attack the leather industry over the origins of leather from Brazilian hides. They should really have been focusing on other issues such as soya bean meal to feed pigs in the EU but companies like Nike, Timberland and Clarks made more press-worthy targets than a few Dutch pig farmers. 

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Mike Redwood

Leather has its uses

The Redwood Column
Published:  19 April, 2014

A year or two ago a letter in the Financial Times about Cuba provoked an unexpectedly large and aggressive response. It said that there were some really good things about Cuban society and since they were just about to set out on the post-Castro modernisation they should take a good look before jumping onto the same path towards development that every other country has done in the 20th century. 

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Mike Redwood

Globalisation – Support for Warren Weinstein

The Redwood Column
Published:  11 March, 2014

On Christmas Eve I received a difficult email. It was a link to a video by Al Qaeda. 

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Mike Redwood

“The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order”

The Redwood Column
Published:  04 November, 2013

Cherry picking the facts in order to develop a narrative to support your arguments is getting commoner these days. Indeed the financial journalist Gillian Tett put it in stark terms: “individuals are clustering into tribes in cyberspace, only reading information that reaffirms their world view”. Some people like to examine the facts in order to prove that not much is changing. Others to prove that it is. Very few are able to analyse the data objectively, and anyway what does "objectively" really mean. 

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Mike Redwood

What is honest science?

The Redwood Column
Published:  20 August, 2013

I remember a discussion at home when I was deciding to go to University. It was in the years after C P Snow had given his controversial Rede lecture "The Two Cultures". The worry was that literary and artistic people had become so divorced from any understanding of science that they could not understand the technical development going on around them. My father, who was then Managing Director of Andrew Muirhead's tannery in Scotland, argued that making leather involved both science and art and so neatly bridged the divide.

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