Debbie Burton, Chair of the Management Committee, said that Leather Naturally has now been in existence for 10 years and that recent work around new messaging was beginning to see the needle shift back towards a more positive image about leather and how it is made.

She highlighted negative media articles from past and then more recent press coverage which has been framing leather in a better light. Through its Leather Truthfully campaign, information was provided on its website for mainstream journalists who report on consumer affairs to use.

She said that the industry had received more balanced reporting with a number of media organisations such as Forbes, Bloomberg and Vogue Business, saying: “We are beginning to get the message across and have an input into controlling the narrative around leather.

Burton also mentioned the leather industry’s dialogue with the Higg Index to improve environmental material index score as well as its ongoing collaboration with the Textile Exchange.

Claudia Spahr, who oversees communications for Leather Naturally, said that a new website was close to going live (early April) with facts and information about the industry provided in six languages. She said that the content is more structured, and the new site is easier for visitors to navigate. It will be supported by an ongoing social media campaign as well as the Leather Naturally’s successful “Buy better – buy leather” campaign, which can be found online. The new site will also feature QR code links for brands, retailers and consumers to use smart devices to “get the facts” around leather.

Dr Luiz Zugno, in charge of educational materials for Leather Naturally, said that the “Modern Leather Guide” for cowhide leather had been successfully added to the website in the past year but also warned that the industry still needs further work as a whole to improve the image of leather. He said: “We need to show in the industry in a clean and safe way. One that takes care of its waste and packaging.”

Around 60 people attended the breakfast meeting and Leather Naturally has around 200 active stakeholders. Leather industry related businesses can join the campaign from as little as US$250 depending on turnover.

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