The first part of the project will last one year but is aimed to continue for a total of five years. The aim is to actively engage with consumers around the world through social media, emphasising leather’s attributes and strengthening the connection with consumers from Generation-Z and Millennials in order to stimulate leather consumption. First presented in Shanghai during the ACLE last August, Leather Naturally says it is now approaching stakeholders in the industry to get the funding sponsorship needed to launch the campaign.

“We have been introducing the project to many companies and associations within the leather industry and, so far, have received very positive and encouraging feedback,” said Fernando Bellese of JBS Couros and a member of the Leather Naturally Steering Committee and who is closely involved in getting the PR campaign introduced.

Hans van Haarst CEO of Smit & Zoon commented about the importance of this project: “We are convinced that cooperation in the leather value chain is needed to make it sustainable from an economic, environmental and social perspective. This campaign is a significant contribution to the industry needs. We will fund US$50,000 of this PR campaign, anticipating a high return for the industry. We strongly encourage others to join, instead of waiting for somebody else to take the initiative.”

Leather Naturally has already raised support to fund over 40% of the campaign, such as from Smit & zoon and Wollsdorf Leder, but will still need the support from the rest of the industry to reach the US$1.5 million needed to get the campaign started for the first year. The association has also received the support from different organisations across the sector such as the member associations of GLCC (Global Leather Co-ordinating Committee) which includes the International Council of Tanners’ (ICT), International Council of Hides, Skins and Leather Traders Associations (ICHSLTA) and the International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS).

Andreas Kindermann, CEO of Austria based leather maker Wollsdorf Leder adds: “This year has shown that there is a lack of communication to young people. They are the customer of the future and our industry needs new ways of communication to reach out to them. This collaborative approach supports our industry, making leather the perfect material for the next generation by providing clear information and counteract fake news.”