Credit: COP26

What effects has COP26 had for the leather industry?

ILM Comment
Published:  26 November, 2021

While much of the world waited and hoped during COP26 that the world leaders present would make some noticeable commitment to correcting the climate change path we have all found ourselves heading towards, the leather industry waited to see if methane would be a priority in those commitments and how tightly leather would be linked to the issue. Tom Hogarth breaks down the fallout and what we can expect going forward.

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Credit: Jonas Allert

A long and better life for leather

Redwood Comment
Published:  24 November, 2021

The fact that leather lasts longer than competitive materials is one of its key strengths, says Mike Redwood.

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Credit: COP26

A coordinated approach is needed post-COP26

Redwood Comment
Published:  17 November, 2021

Mike Redwood expresses his disappointment in world leader’s efforts at the recent COP26 summit in Scotland, but highlights the clear opportunity for the leather industry to show its commitment to a greener future.

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Prince Charles at COP26 in Scotland

The value of royal endorsement

Redwood Comment
Published:  10 November, 2021

The value of exposing monarchs, Presidents, Prime Ministers and other key individuals to the benefits of leather cannot be over-emphasised, explains Dr Mike Redwood.

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Sir David Attenborough in the audience at COP26

The leather industry has united for COP26

Redwood Comment
Published:  02 November, 2021

Our industry has not always been unified in the way it needs to be but getting a leather manifesto out ahead of COP26 is a great start, says Mike Redwood.

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Metcha's APLF presentation focused on leather trends

Promoting leather to a new generation

Redwood Comment
Published:  27 October, 2021

The world of the Internet has invaded our lives in the last eighteen months. The webinar, for example, has consistently presented useful material in a timely way and can still be valid as we learn to live in equilibrium with Covid-19 by making content available for those who missed the live session. 

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Credit: Brian Jackson

Fasten your seatbelt for rapid global change

Redwood Comment
Published:  20 October, 2021

From Moroccan leather to The Hudson Bay Company, our industry has been deeply integrated into world trade from the start of shipping. Leather is not a commodity, the complexity of its raw materials and the leathers that can be produced from each is staggering and has resulted in many strong intercontinental shipping routes.

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Credit: devn

We need to invest in repair shops

Redwood comment
Published:  13 October, 2021

Overconsumption is driving us towards an extinction event. It is filling landfills that we do not have space for, consuming resources at an unprecedented rate and using virgin materials, made from fossil fuels, in ridiculous quantities. 

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Volvo XC70 leather interior. Credit: Volvo

Creatures of emotion

Redwood comment
Published:  06 October, 2021

Dale Carnegie said: “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity."  Carnegie died in 1955 and was most famous for his self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People, published in 1936.

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Credit: Tbel Abuseridze

Just three words

Redwood comment
Published:  29 September, 2021

Performance, sustainability and beauty. These three words have been embedded in leather for a million years in one form or another. Not a few thousand years as we often say, not tens of thousands but almost certainly one million years of leather.

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Credit: Tamara Bellis

Education matters

Redwood comment
Published:  23 September, 2021

A recent article in the online magazine The Conversation makes an important point about the teaching of sustainability in our fashion schools; that it must begin with universities if the fashion industry is to change.

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Credit: Goran Ivos

Keeping leather relevant

Redwood Comment
Published:  15 September, 2021

We are now in a world where living with the pandemic is normal and resilience in business matters more than ever. Companies must be able to adapt quickly to the unexpected. Anything can happen from cash flow interruption to worker absence, supply chain turmoil to end user revolt, sudden lockdowns and travel restrictions. 

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Think carefully about keeping pets

Redwood comment
Published:  06 September, 2021

For the last few weeks, our focus has been on Afghanistan. Coming to terms how it has impacted on our own families and friends over the past 20 years as well struggling with the implications for the future after the global impact of President Trump and Covid-19. 

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Credit: Mohamed Abdulraheem

Is leather being left behind by the fashion industry?

ILM Comment
Published:  02 September, 2021

Legitimate or not, the fashion industry’s eco-friendly campaigns have often left leather behind, but what can we do about it?

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The distraction of carbon offsets

Redwood comment
Published:  31 August, 2021

Planting trees still makes up around half of the carbon offset business. The fact that even after the young trees are established, they will need to remain standing somewhere between 50 to 100 years to absorb the levels of CO2 they were planted for means that this is not an easy solution. 

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The leather industry is at the mercy of transport restrictions

ILM Comment
Published:  26 August, 2021

While much of the world seems set on moving on from pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, constraints on international travel and shipping continue to affect how the leather industry conducts business on a global scale.

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Credit: Pradeep Gaur

Listening to unheard voices

Redwood comment
Published:  24 August, 2021

It has long been my hope that the leather industry would make more of the fact that it employs large numbers of people, and that the leather produced creates employment for not only many more but for huge numbers throughout the supply chain.

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Credit: Jaime Lopes

Is it time to get back on a plane for work?

Worldwide
Published:  19 August, 2021

Over the past few weeks, I’ve attended a wedding and been on holiday outside of my own country. Both events felt both familiar and alien at the same time. Blowing kisses to friends and family replaced a hug and fist bumps replaced a handshake with strangers meeting for the first time. This is life after the double jab and we’re getting used to the new world of living with Covid-19 while getting on with our lives after lockdown.

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Credit: Hermes Rivera

Nature hates waste

Redwood comment
Published:  19 August, 2021

I found a neighbour up a ladder painting his windows this morning. His windows were specially crafted by a specialist joiner to fit a house which is many hundreds of years old. He was complaining of other old houses where the owners had renewed old windows with plastic ones. Such plastic windows, he said only have a life of 20 years. Sunlight, he explained, “degrades everything”.

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Credit: fizkes

Post-Covid generational gap

Published:  11 August, 2021

Be it physically or over Zoom, I am now meeting the new generation working in tanneries and the supporting industries. The Boomers are moving on. We knew this was starting a few years ago when tanners were being encouraged to train staff up for the years during which retirements would be much larger than normal, with a small Generation X short of people to fill the gaps. 

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Credit: krakenimages

Using anger wisely

Redwood comment
Published:  04 August, 2021

Talking last week with a marketing colleague I have known for more decades than we like to admit, we recalled that in a world where marketing has been transformed, two rules have always held true: do not get angry and never attack the competition.

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Credit: Ivars Krutain

The leather industry could lead the way in manufacturing

Redwood comment
Published:  28 July, 2021

This is the headline from the top of the editorial page of the Financial Times (FT) on July 23. It had the word “British” added, and yes it was 2021 and not 1821. The headline came from the FT but the letter it headlined I had written in response to an article about hopes for future employment in manufacturing and services.

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Credit: Cytonn Photography

The joy of meetings

Redwood comment
Published:  21 July, 2021

A year or more of zero travel and extended remote working has raised the importance of “the meeting” to a new level. Back-to-back Zoom meetings have become the norm, and the one-hour meeting the defined standard. I have sat in on a few where managing the sixty-minute aspect had priority over content and purpose.

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Credit: Nick Karvounis

A beautiful concept

Redwood comment
Published:  13 July, 2021

A word. A simple word. Three easy syllables that merge smoothly despite being in a foreign language. Yet a beautiful word representing an even more beautiful concept. 

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Mike Redwood

The right sort of jobs

Redwood comment
Published:  06 July, 2021

One year ago, I was writing that the leather industry should do all that it could to offer jobs to young people. The young were suffering disproportionately from the problems of Covid-19 despite being the least likely to die from it. School leavers, college and university graduates were unable to find jobs and the under 30s were the most likely to be laid off.

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Mike Redwood

Old ideas have their place in a modern world

Redwood comment
Published:  29 June, 2021

During the past eighteen months of pandemic, one winner seems to have been wine; anyway it was in our household. Trapped at home with decent weather, much of the time a glass of wine while relaxing in the garden was the logical activity. So, it is a pleasure to know that over the past six months the wine producing industry has been debating unexpected livestock ideas from France.

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Cyber-attacks affect us all

Redwood comment
Published:  22 June, 2021

Walking back to our hotel after dinner in Shanghai a few years ago (do you vaguely remember those days?), an Alderman from the City of London reminded me that I fitted the profile of individuals likely to be the target of scammers on the internet. While I was aware of this, it was still a shock to hear it so directly stated. 

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Credit: Bram van Oost

There is a joker in town

Redwood comment
Published:  15 June, 2021

Sustainable electric cars with plastic seats, who’s kidding who?

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Dr Mike Redwood

The written word

Redwood comment
Published:  08 June, 2021

Although this article will appear only online I still find myself preferring to read from paper and writing with a traditional fountain pen. In fact, only three weeks ago I changed to a new type of notebook for my everyday note taking. My choice was largely made by its larger size, which while less convenient, I am hoping will get me back writing more legibly.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Good leadership rather than good luck

Redwood comment
Published:  02 June, 2021

Leadership can be quite a nebulous concept and one that only gets defined when some specifically successful action is highlighted, regardless of whether the next time round the same action proves useless in a different context.  

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Dr Mike Redwood

We need to innovate out of the commodity trap

Redwood Comment
Published:  26 May, 2021

In a world grown accustomed to low prices as businesses prioritise efficiency, it is hard to avoid a commodity trap. Efficiency has been very much about reducing costs through a mix of using lower cost labour and higher levels of mechanisation in order to achieve shareholder gains. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

Luncheon matters

Redwood Comment
Published:  19 May, 2021

It is Wednesday and we are sitting outside Purchases restaurant on high chairs with small tables in North Street, Chichester, a historic Cathedral town near London. This is our first lunch away from home since September 2020, as the UK cautiously attempts to escape the shackles of Covid-19. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

China and its people

Redwood Comment
Published:  12 May, 2021

The pandemic and the subsequent vaccine rollout present a very divided world. Global economic recovery is expected to be pretty strong in 2021, but only because of growth in China, the U.S. and Europe.

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Dr Mike Redwood

The Mulberry Made to Last Manifesto

Redwood Comment
Published:  05 May, 2021

If you watched the APLF Academy seminars, which are all now available on YouTube, you may have seen “The sustainability of knowledge within the industry”, presented by Rachel Garwood of the University of Northampton. She demonstrated how much University Leather education has changed over the last decade to create better options for both what is called “lifelong learning” and traditional leather learning - changes that have rapidly advanced because of COVID-19.

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Dr Mike Redwood

We need to sort this out

Redwood Comment
Published:  28 April, 2021

If you watched APLF’s Digital Week, you will have realised that major organisations in the leather industry around the world have come to the conclusion that there are many good reasons to proclaim leather as an excellent material to play its role in a world facing the huge challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

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Dr Mike Redwood

People are our most important asset

Redwood Comment
Published:  21 April, 2021

Rather too long ago, when I was studying for my MBA, a much-respected Professor raised the often-used phrase in Company Mission Statements that employees are key assets. His course was about recognising that the majority of business activity was routine and how the efficient company analyses and automates them. He was scathing that so many companies who trumpeted the “people are first” statement steadily released staff whenever their automation allowed it.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Forward and backwards with Clubhouse

Redwood Comment
Published:  14 April, 2021

I cannot decide what my relationship is going to be with the new App called Clubhouse, where rooms are created for audio chats about all manner of subjects. Is it really a step towards a more relaxed and creative way of thinking about a wide range of subjects than Zoom or Teams, or do I hate it as no more than another demand on valuable time?

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Dr Mike Redwood

A unique material that needs to keep re-defining itself

Redwood Comment
Published:  07 April, 2021

We talk a lot about leather being one of the oldest and most versatile materials, available to the first humans as a ‘waste product’ from their hunter gatherer diet, which included meat and milk.

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Credit: Annie Spratt

Leather and livestock improve biodiversity and poverty

Redwood Comment
Published:  31 March, 2021

Lately, we have been seeing a number of new definitions of sustainability being presented, all intended to move us forward from the 1987 Brundtland Report definition in the UN document Our Common Future.

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Dr Mike Redwood

We must be honest, but never silent

Redwood Comment
Published:  24 March, 2021

It is Tuesday in a small west country village in the south west of England, looking out over the sheep resting and grazing amongst the trees. We are locked down by the rules of the pandemic, and with only a few brief interruptions, have been for most of the last twelve months. Yes, it is exactly one year since we were first asked to confine ourselves. So, while the view is pleasant, it has largely been the only one available for a year.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Time to think and act positively

Redwood Comment
Published:  17 March, 2021

Some years ago now, a leather industry friend of mine with whom I first worked in the early 1970s, sent me a package of small material samples with a suggestion that I meet and offer to help the founder. I arrived at the London Royal College of Art, meeting with founder of Ananas Anam, the makers of Piñatex. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

The network always evolves

Redwood Comment
Published:  10 March, 2021

International trade has declined surprisingly little as a result of the tariff driven mission of the 45th President of the U.S. and the ravages of the pandemic, but it will not survive. President Trump saw trade as a binary win-or-lose proposition, which America’s size guaranteed he would win.

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Dr Mike Redwood

Post pandemic it is youth we will depend on

Redwood Comment
Published:  03 March, 2021

The Executive Committee of the IULTCS has announced the two young leather scientist winners of the 2021 IUR research grants. The selected scientists are from Brazil and New Zealand.  

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Dr Mike Redwood

Celebrate our people

Redwood Comment
Published:  24 February, 2021

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I found myself sitting in front of a computer on a Zoom panel with half a dozen others as part of the Independent Shoemakers Conference, run by bespoke London based shoemaker Carréducker. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

Education is not preparation for life - it is life

Published:  17 February, 2021

I recently read Dr. Tara Westover’s book Educated. Having often travelled to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City and regularly incorporated it in a longer trip which allowed me to see more of the local area, I was interested to learn about life growing up in rural Idaho and Utah. In one of many interviews she has done since publication, she said that she thought it was wrong to say that education is only to prepare us for life - it was life.

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Dr Mike Redwood

This is a crisis still to play out

Redwood Comment
Published:  10 February, 2021

In a rather slow changing world, strategic thinking was a very relaxed process during the centuries of leathermaking, but in the last few decades, the subject has needed to become part of routine management team discussions. As the 20th century progressed, the leather industry slowly began to recognise that changes were happening that required long term planning to adapt for the implications of an aging global society, rapid urbanisation and a huge emerging middle class.

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Credit: Matthew Guay

The leather industry’s difficult relationship with the media

Worldwide
Published:  05 February, 2021

The leather industry’s relationship with the media, and by that I am mainly referring to mainstream media, and more recently social media, has long been a strained one. Some of it is self-inflicted, it has to be said, with the sector’s passive stance in the past having opened the floodgates to journalists, broadcasters and other unvetted publicists to spout one-sided, badly researched propaganda and misinformation against leather.

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Credit: Muhammad Numan

Save the planet and enjoy the rich patina of life

Redwood Comment
Published:  03 February, 2021

I received an email two weeks ago when I asked for some advice from the Product Life Institute in Geneva. My message had mentioned the comparison of leather with plastic substitutes. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

Have we seen the end of ties?

Redwood Comment
Published:  27 January, 2021

Working out what we will be wearing as we ease back into a more open life as the pandemic diminishes is getting harder. For a long time, there was a belief that we would enter a new Roaring Twenties type of lifestyle, exuberantly dressing up to enjoy the release from months of misery. The arrival of Regency diversions such as Bridgerton onto the small screen, along with some of the concepts on current digital catwalks, reinforces this positive feeling. 

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Dr Mike Redwood

The digital world

Redwood Comment
Published:  20 January, 2021

I have never ever sat an examination where I was allowed to use a calculator. I am from a generation that began at primary school learning about dipping pens into inkwells and went on to work on log tables. University years were a little simpler as we had moved on to slide rules, and I benefited from my father letting me have a lovely one that had been gifted to him by Lennig Chemicals, the UK subsidiary of Rohm & Haas.

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