Zero maintenance and a long-life

Redwood Comment
Published:  24 February, 2016
Mike Redwood

Going through Heathrow airport on Sunday I paid the quite large sum of £8 (US$12), before tips, to have my ancient Classic Rockport Dressport wingtips polished. They are about fifteen years old now and I have quite a few pairs I rotate, so I have paid more for each for routine maintenance that I did at purchase. It gives me a good feeling to still be proud of them, and knowing when Rockport designed my shoes they were certainly not after any planned obsolescence.

Longevity and durability are starting to frame the sustainability debate now that areas such as banned substances (even some brands are recognising that chromium is still a good tanning method), slave labour and misbehaviour with effluent are much more under control around the world. It was a significant part of the Smart Creation Program established by Première Vision, where Smart maintenance of textile garments brought Andrès Franco from P&G Europe Fabric Care to the floor. Given the expertise and leadership on display via the tanneries in Hall 3, the assembly missed out on the realisation that while washing, dry cleaning, re-waterproofing and re-fireproofing can add around a third to the overall climate impact of a textile garment, leather rarely needs any maintenance at all.

Getting my shoes polished may have cost a lot, but most of the cost goes into keeping someone gainfully employed. It is elbow grease that is being paid for and it is not measured via a carbon footprint. Indeed, most articles made of leather require no more maintenance than a damp cloth - be it a car seat, an airline seat or an expensive handbag. I am rather ‘obsessed’ about continuously showing people my aged brief case, looking better each day after decades of zero maintenance, but straight after the meeting in Paris I passed Rompa Leather to be shown a "grandfather's briefcase" which was known to be fifty or sixty years old and present not as an artifact, but an item in continuous everyday use still. 

Low maintenance

This is the truth about leather. Little or no maintenance is needed over years or decades. It is the threads, zips and accessories which usually fail, so Smart Creation with leather is all about matching those elements correctly to maximise life; and then to consider the ability to repair. My Rockports still look good; it is the rubber sole which is wearing. When I take them to my miracle making cobbler will he be able to repair them? I hope he can. Then, I will feel we are truly part of a Smart Conversation.

Congratulations to Premiere Vision on a clever initiative (but never allow the term "heavy metal" to pass your lips again: it is a nonsensical term).

Mike Redwood

mike@internationalleathermaker.com

Follow Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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‘Grandfather's briefcase’ at Rompa Leather
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