Consumer Corner - Common Knowledge

26 June 2014

Leather International combs the aisles of APLF and beyond in Hong Kong for this month’s instalment to ask leather aficionados about their allegiance to leather, and where the boundaries might lie.

Consumer Corner - Common Knowledge

What was the last article of leather you bought and why?
A bike seat.
Christoph: I bought an article online that told me how to recognise fake leather, as I wasn't sure if the jacket I bought at a local market was genuine.
Marco: A new wallet to replace my previous, worn-out wallet.
Yang Wei: Wedding shoes. They're going to be worn barefoot, so synthetic materials just wouldn't do.
Tamsin: A pair of court shoes with a leather upper - they looked smart for work.

Are you willing to pay more for something made of leather thinking it will last longer?
No - leather products are too attached to fashion cycles to be needed long term.
Christoph: When it comes to leather, I'm not concerned about price; I'm concerned about authenticity.
Marco: Definitely, imitation leather is never anywhere near as good as the real thing.
Yang Wei: Yes. While I'm sure alternative materials have come along very much in recent years, leather has an enduring quality that synthetics don't match for me.
Tamsin: Depends on the price differential, but probably not.

What do you think is the difference between high-quality leather and average leather products?
The manufacturing process.
Christoph: High-quality leather lasts longer.
Marco: Suppleness, and the smell.
Yang Wei: I don't think it's all about the quality of the leather; it's about the finishes too - how good the stitching is or what fixtures/accessories the item has.
Tamsin: Has a better finish perhaps? Lasts longer, not so easily scuffed.

What leather brands do you trust most in terms of quality and value?
Philippe: Imperial Leather.
Christoph: If it's bought from a high street retail shop, I trust it.
Marco: Church's shoes and Mulberry bags.
Yang Wei: I don't think I'm that familiar with any specific leather brands.
Tamsin: I couldn't name any, specifically.

How do you differentiate one skin from another? Would you buy a product made of any skin - cow, sheep, goat, ostrich, snake, alligator, shark, for example - or do you draw a moral boundary at a certain species and why?
Any species considered endangered or threatened by is a no. Any species that is anthropomorphically related to humans is a no.
Christoph: I would only wear something reptilian if I killed it myself.
Marco: I don't mind which animal the skin comes from, as long as I'm aware of the process. For example, finding more out about angora fur has put me off buying that, but no leather products have done the same, so far.
Yang Wei: I probably can't tell the difference between cow, sheep or goat leather, but the others have their signs. The moral boundary is a tough one; while I might feel uncomfortable if the leather comes from something rare, or if the animal suffered unnecessarily, in most cases, I think I'd be happy to wear almost anything.
Tamsin: I would be a bit reluctant to buy anything that seemed "exotic", as I wouldn't necessarily trust their origins or the practices of companies who worked in those sectors; it would be harder to know what had gone on.

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