Leather sector could see a change

S Vishnu Sharmaa, INN/Chennai, @svs037
The business of leather can witness a change in the future, says Niazali J Hirani, leather sector head with Moshi Leather Industries of Tanzania. A company that setup a unit in the stall set up by Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa (SITA), an organisation that is into promoting bilateral trade between eastern African nations and India. Today the talk is all about synthetic products that are picking up pace and are available cost effectively. The need for leather is not seen that much in the present scenario, he says.
The scenario where synthetic was considered a cheap and low quality alternative is undergoing a change. Currently, micro fibre technology is used to generate synthetic material of high quality.
China has taken a lead in usage of synthetic and have successfully generated good synthetic products that exactly resemble leather, even experts would not be able to differentiate between synthetic and leather products. Such is the finesse with which synthetic products are being made, he says.
On the other hand, next generation is leaning towards informal way of dressing which leaves little room for the need of leather based products.
Leather products, shoes for example, do not look apt in an environment where the attire is mostly informal. Synthetic has taken over most of the products. Even major brands like Nike do go for synthetic, for that is cost effective. About one percent of its products is now made of leather. Since most of the major brands now target youngsters of next generation who prefer synthetic, leather may receive a sidelining. Moreover, not all feel comfortable with leather, whereas, it is not the case with synthetic. It is preference to synthetic and competition from products like shoes made from synthetic that has posed a tough competition to leather in India.
The new method that uses stem cell technology in making leather perhaps can revolutionise the leather industry, the prospects of animal slaughter may witness a steep reduction in future. The new developments will bring lot of changes in the way we see things, we need to wait and see the consequences they will have on us.

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