Published: February 08, 2022
Mike Redwood compares the state of the world and the state of leather and finds common ground for the industry to turn to as we promote leather in 2022.
Soft, loose, comfortable but can be mixed with other items including shoes and gloves to go from informal to formal. This is the direction of travel we will see after this pandemic.
They say politicians never know when it’s time to step down, and a look around the world today would seem to confirm that. Covid-19 fits this pattern and fails to recognize that it’s time to leave us alone and let the world move on to its other issues.
But in the minds of most citizens of the world, the decision has been made and we see an adapted normalcy developing from the experiences of the past two years. There will be more mask-wearing, fewer thefts, and generally more suspicious and vigilant behavior.
It has been a matter of stops and starts as governments have gone from euphoria to panic. The fashion world has evolved and turned trying to figure out what the future might look like and tanners have quickly adapted to wildly changing trends in footwear, automobiles, homewares and even luxury, where handbags have been incredibly strong.
Ties and suits
We quickly understood these changes as they happened, but predictions were difficult. Some male tanners have never worn a tie while in some areas they still do but, in general, the pandemic has removed ties and put away suits. For women, high heels have been put away and seem likely to come back mainly for socializing, parties and some formal events such as weddings (and a small number of them will be so formal).
Versatile garments that can be used for formal or less formal settings by mixing and matching allow consumers to utilize their existing wardrobes, and some will want to find opportunities to pull it all out and enjoy. But skirts and dresses will more often be mixed with scarves, sweaters and mid-heels rather than a return to uncomfortable high shoes, while mixing men’s jackets and trousers and skipping the collared shirt will offer new opportunities for relaxation and individuality.
Color in the middle of a sea of gray
In some ways, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, entering the 70th year of her reign, has shown the way; managing to stand out in his use of color amidst a sea of grey. Often the color is associated with its location and shows creative thinking by matching each item – gloves, handbag, coat, hat and shoes.
The Queen has always been a leather user and understands its origins and values. These new trends towards comfort and versatility, with the associated need to contain more classic items, call for leather; lots and lots of mostly soft leather.
The leather industry must not wait to follow the trend but start to take the lead and promote these origins and these values. When a versatile classic is needed for regular use in the wardrobe, it should be made of leather, just like the bright spring or summer item. Leather is the best material for longevity and ease of care, although care should be taken with easily stained pastel suede.
So let’s put leather first and proudly promote it, proud of its beauty, performance and durability. We now have the skills to work with designers and manufacturers to make it fit for purpose, to design with quality zippers and stitching to reduce the need for repair and make it easier if ever needed . We can even make pastel suedes that shouldn’t stain and bright colors that won’t run and, if they ever do, have systems in place to refurbish them. And every tanner in the world should buy a leather garment in 2022 to lead the campaign. What will yours look like?