What’s recycled leather? “I don’t know” and the beginning of a new idea!

What’s Leath3R

To answer this question we must take a step back and start from the moment we felt the need for a change that we had to undertake as a company in everyday habits and start looking beyond our vision threshold.

Where does the idea of a shoe collection come from?

Every year in the world of footwear and leather goods there are two main moments in which fashion brands use their time to search for new, innovative materials, with particular prints or finish that are increasingly fashionable.

These two moments are the spring/summer (generally called SS) season and the autumn/winter ( Called AW ) season.

The search for the SS season is normally done between January and March while that of the AW season takes place between August and October.

In this span of time all the various stylists in the sector go in search of novelties to be introduced in their collections based on the current fashion or studies made previously and therefore how one can well understand who can find the right intuition and the” perfect ” article will be able to introduce a better product on the market but above all, it will be able to arrive before the others.

During this research period, there are various trade fairs in the sector and among the most important for us we can mention the Expo Riva Schuh fair in Riva del Garda, then there is Lineapelle London, Premierè Vision Paris, and Lineapelle Milano.

Thousands of customers always try to to be present since during these days many leather suppliers (tanneries) are present with their stands to exhibit the collections of new and alternative materials and therefore the customer can concentrate his time in 2-3 days to have thousands of information that they can assist in the development stage of their footwear or leather goods collection.

My team and I, every year, among the various fairs we are most present at that of Lineapelle Milano where we organize appointments with our customers given the presence of all the leather collections of our suppliers (tanneries).

During the 3 days of the fair, we are able to present each customer with a wide range of articles designed on the basis of the guidelines that the customer provided us before the meeting.

It is precisely in one of these fairs that we came up with the idea of ​​developing something new.

Listen to your customer

Our experience:

At the end of the 3 days off fair LINEAPELLE MILAN 2018 which took place in the period between 25-27 September in Rho Milan, while my team and I were in the car together to reach their homes, 2 hours of time, as usual, we did a briefing on the days of the fair and how it went for each of the team.

Among the various speeches, it emerged that each of us had received, among the various requests, a unique request that occurred almost from all customers, or the question was: Do you have recycled leather?

Personally, four customers had asked me this question and I could not answer immediately with the classic confidence that I had in other situations where I knew the topic well. The only thing I could answer was,…

What do you mean by recycled leather?

At this point, the next response from the customer was an answer that I never thought I would receive:

” I don’t know ”.

So this teaches us that many times we want something that we don’t even know what it is but since it is a Trend topic of the moment we want to ride the wave immediately even if we risk drowning at the start.

Anyway, going back to the answer I had and that is ” I don’t know ” then we did a deepening of the topic to better understand the thought of each individual customer so as to receive most of the information possible to understand what the customer was looking for.

In fact, this was not the first time that I heard this word in the field of footwear because during my visit to my clients in Vietnam prior to the Milan fair, during some meetings they had pointed out to me that in their productions they used materials recycled type, cotton, and textile so there was already a beginning of a change in the air, but never talked about recycled leather.

Recycled leather or recycled product? What’s your opinion

In the weeks following the fair, we asked our suppliers if they had any more information about recycled leather than we did or if someone was doing something on the subject but each of them replied that they too did not know what it meant or at least they only had heard about it.

After careful research, we noticed that on the market there were various types of materials from the reuse of leathers that were ‘discarded’ during the manufacturing process.

Leathers that had been in the warehouse for a long time and therefore unsold, which, reworked using machines that they cut them into small pieces and assemble them together with glues or synthetic materials, they had as a final result a product obtained from the reworking of the leather and therefore with a% of leather inside but which in our opinion certainly cannot be called recycled leather.

Surely this is an excellent way to decrease the environmental impact that the tanning industry has on the environment and certainly, it can be said that it is an excellent way to reuse products that otherwise can create redundancy problems, however, in my opinion, we cannot call them recycled leather but a simply recycled product.

Unique value proposition

And it was there that we had the idea of ​​creating the Program Leath3R. 

Since the method for obtaining the so-called “recycled leather” and the word itself so constructed does not belong to us, we have worked on all the various aspects of leather production to be able to reduce the waste resulting from the production itself and therefore make it more sustainable.

To group in a sentence all that we wanted to do and which then became our “Unique value proposition” I can say that:

“We want to change the status quo of the leather footwear sector by providing a ready-made product / service with high technological value and innovative that through certified sustainable production, offers a level of transparency and traceability validated by Blockchain. ”

The confirmation that we were on the right path was validated in the Summer 2020 season where we closed a pilot program with a customer and therefore we were able to test all the various phases of the program and optimize others so as to make it a product ready for the market.

Leath3R pillars

The Leath3R Program, as you may have understood, works on different aspects of leather production reducing the environmental impact that production has compared to the normal production of a good level tannery.

The points on which the Leath3R program goes to work are:

Leather traceability

Transparency of the information

Production with renewable energy

Water reduction

Supplier certificate LWG Gold

European raw material

Neutralization of CO2 emission


100% Italian supplier

It was intense work more than a year between the idea and the validation of the project.

A year of hard work where we worked on the different aspects of the program and collected as much information as possible from our customers who helped us take the right path and arrive at a very specific goal that we had set ourselves at the beginning, that is to be able to create a ready, sustainable product that reflects the demand of our customers.

Even today we are always updating and gathering the information that the market offers us to improve the product and therefore create more and more value for our customers.

Last October we decided to register the ” Leath3R ” trademark as our customers asked us to do so given the importance of the topic we were going to deal with.

In the word Leath3R the ” 3R ” stands for Reduce-Reuse-Recycle and it is an excellent combination that we have designed for between leather and sustainability which is the basis of the Reduce/Reuse/ Recycle concept.


We wouldn’t have been able to develop this whole program and the idea wouldn’t have come to us if we hadn’t learned to LISTEN TO OUR CUSTOMERS.

Thanks to their initial information and thanks to the help they gave us during the validation of the Leath3R program, today we can say that they helped us to see the world of the skins with a different perspective and aimed more towards the final consumer and respect for the environment and therefore make us perform daily actions to improve the environment around us.

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