We had a presentation from Rachel Sleight this week, who showed us the range of leather bags she had been recently developing. 

This ties in really well with my Pecha Kucha topic, which looks into the association of leather with luxury in our society. I think Rachel takes a very sensible approach in her design, hand stitching the bags and designing for long longevity through reliability and maybe modularity. She has clearly looked into sourcing sustainable and ethical leather registered in Italy, and I was really interested in the fact that she was looking into alternatives to leather. 

One of the alternatives was Pinatex, ‘leather’ made from the the spare parts of a pineapple plant, which I had heard about before. This allows pinapple farmers another source of income without needing any more water, land or pesticides than they currently use. The leather itself is said to be durable and waterproof and has a unique texture and finish.

One of the material samples Rachel brought that I was really curious about was slatestone. Slatestone is a slate and fabric combination material that develops an interesting patina like vegetable tanned leather does that resembles worn stone. It’s under development still, but it seems really promising and has a very unique stylistic appeal.

In preparation for my Pecha Kucha, I’d really like to explore tanning methods, designing for durability and alternatives to leather. It’s my belief that eventually, there can be a gradual disconnect in people’s minds that separates the idea of leather from luxury. I don’t foresee a complete abandonment of leather any time soon, instead I anticipate further inflation in demand, which has worrying implications for the environment. 

Hopefully, with a better understanding of the leather industry as a whole, people can make more informed choices about their leather products and take greater interest in where it’s from and whether they will keep it to the end of its life.


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