Eco Leather from IUV18 June 2005
Slovenia's Industrija usnja Vrhnika (IUV) are based in a heritage tannery zone in Vrhnika, close to the capital Ljubljana. A high quality pigskin tannery, they aim to tan leathers as naturally and benignly as possible. The firm have gained the coveted ISO-16949 automotive industry standard for leather, certified to BVQI standard. As pigskin has a tensile strength equal to that of bovines, automakers have a cost trimming option. IUV have introduced a range of machine washable pig suede; sanitised leather; moisture and oil repellent suede, and Eco leather produced without chrome. Four separate chemical processes are offered as options to customers, but innovative research means that individual options can be combined as a single standard feature on most leathers. The qualities associated with leather remain unchanged, if not enhanced. IUV were one of the pioneering tanneries in washable suede technology. Machine washable suede garments can be washed and tumble-dried, and even ironed. Shrinkage is about 2-3%. Garments feel softer and keep their handle after washing, using recommended methods. A separate formula for machine washable black dyes is also offered. Sanitized leather is a range of clinical leathers for shoes and garments which have long-lasting hygienic properties that control the formation of fungus and bacteria. Moisture/oil repellent leather is engineered to resist dirt and stains and maximise the look and feel of leather. Washing makes little or no difference to inherent repellent qualities. Eco leather is produced without chrome. Azo dyes, formaldehyde and other harmful substances are also kept below regulated norms. The suede itself has a shorter nap, fewer visible pores and a uniform surface. It feels and looks natural, has excellent breathing qualities and can safely be recycled. Approximately 10% of IUV's production is Eco leather but costs are about 10% higher. IUV maintain a workforce of about 600 people and throughput is 25,000 raw skins daily. These are sourced globally. A fraction (5%) of production goes to the small domestic market and company turnover is $30 million. Using advanced roller and dyeing techniques, pearlised, distressed and psychedelic leathers can be produced. There is an unlimited choice of colours, many bright and vibrant enough to outshine nature. Finished suede comes in squares, to help customers gain a more accurate cutting image. Pigskin facts Pigskin is the animal skin closest to human skin in protein and molecular structure and 'breathes' more authentically than other leathers. Average skin sizes: 7-7.5 sq ft and 10-11 sq ft; Fatliquoring: Pigskins lack fat; making the fatliquoring process crucial; Cutting: cutting pigskins does not require the advanced skills needed for heavier, larger cow or steer hides, which pucker and 'bunch' much more readily.