Ethics of Working with Leather in 2019
In 2015 Cora + Spink was a concept getting off the ground, we were developing our relations around the world; seeking suppliers who not only “could” achieve what we wanted, but also willing to adhere to our many requests.
Trial and tribulation is probably the best way to describe the early years, chaos and hectic is probably more accurate. Nonetheless I think it’s interesting to reflect on how the business has developed….
*We first wrote this article July 2015. Revisiting a post from 2015, oh my.
Working with leather.
Leather is a wonderful yet complicated material to work with. For the last 2 or so years we’ve been working exclusively with tanneries in Kolkata, India – who produce approximately 4% of the countries exported leather (India produces 13% of the worlds leather in total – source IBEF).
In this time we have found various ways to make, develop and sustain a healthy production of quality leathers. Working with with our team of experts, during development stages to produce leather to exact standards. We also take advantage of finding beautiful leather available on the open market and buying stocks as and when we see it.
The new range of small leather goods, would never have come into existence, in the range of colours we can offer if it were not for our eagle eyes at the market… to say we jumped on the leather is no exaggeration.
Leather for Cora + Spink fits firmly at the heart of what we do – making backpacks that look good and last. It’s that simple – leather is a strong, reliable and beautiful product. In the right hands it can be made to do many things, but we use it in production in specific places that you may not have noticed.
Leather to reinforce seams inside bags is a great way to utilise even the smallest offcuts of leather, whilst larger panels of leather on straps make all the difference, from an aesthetic point of view. It’s hard to beat the soft touch of leather on a strap when matched with a smart suit or informal casual clothes.
In fact, our use of leather harks back to an age where it was used primarily for its strength and robustness. Straps, bindings, reinforcements etc look good but offer a real solution to something lasting a long time.
This brings us to quality. Quality leather lasts a long time and can put up years of use, bad leather can’t. Poor quality leather is unfortunately all around us, so it’s really important to select and specify what’s needed.
If you take a look at a Cora + Spink product you’ll notice a few things that show off the leather. Often the cut edges of the leather are exposed – showing you the natural edge of the leather. We leave this exposed as a design feature, and also as a way to show off the leather quality. By displaying this cut edge you will see that the leather is thick where it needs to be thick, and thin where it needs to be thin.
Sustainability of Leather.
Close to our hearts is making sure everyone involved with Cora + Spink is able to lead a healthy and happy life, improving their life as they live it. This is particularly important at the production stages, especially at the tannery – where some pretty dangerous processes are used.
There are a number of concerns we have when it comes to leather, first is the handling of the tanning agents (chemicals and liquids used to turn the skin into leather) once they have been used. And the processes the tannery has for its workers, ensuring they are protected from exposure to chemicals.
Our working practices ensure that we not only obtain the best materials, leather and products, but that they are all handled safely and ethically. Part of our working policy is that our suppliers obtain accreditation from independent testers throughout the year.
For the last 3 years we have been working with the following private and government bodies in India, directly and through auditing partners to ensure our policies, ethics and ideology is realistic, achievable and sustainable.
Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS)
Council of Leather Exports (CLE)
Indian Leather Products Association (ILPA)
Indian Trade Promotions Organizations (ITPO)
Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
Our ethical policy is being continually updated with new certificates, and ways we are working to improve. We are far from perfect, but it is our duty to everyone in the chain that we stand by and help where we can. You can read our full ethical policy here:
Cora + Spink Ethics
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