Whenever we come across an aesthetic leather fashion accessory while shopping in the market or online, that can supplement our clothing items, we are tempted to buy it to add an aesthetic factor to our outfit. We also buy high-end leather products due to their longer life cycle, as compared to non-leather products and fashion accessories which lose their shine within a few days of purchase. Once we buy leather clothing, we can wear it for years without worrying much whether it will lose its attraction. Most leather products retain their functional as well as alluring value for a long time. Due to these reasons, the global leather market is thriving and has grown tremendously over the years.
Leather accessories which are in high demand in the fashion industry
Leather fashion products which have a very high demand in the fashion industry include leather handbags, leather belts, leather gloves, leather wallets, leather jackets, leather folios etc. Folio cases are flip covers that go over a smartphone and some may include an extra flap that allows you to keep extra items such as cash, credit card, or any other essential item that you wish to carry with you everyday. People view premium range leather accessories as a fashion statement in the industry. Leather is a very versatile product. It is an amazing material for making all sorts of things including seat covers, toys, motorcycle accessories, and also pet products such as collars and leashes. In addition, there are leather artists who make leather armors. It is a garment which is worn by craftsmen to protect themselves from injury.
Global Leather Goods Market
The global market for leather goods is expected to hold a value of almost USD 400 billion. The prominent brands with international presence in the current scenario are Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, etc. Experts estimate that it will grow at a CAGR of 5.9% (Compound Annual Growth Rate) from 2021 to 2028. The main reason behind its growth is the increase in disposable income of consumers. This results in the growth of international and domestic tourism, better living standards and evolving fashion trends. People view fancy, luxurious and attractive leather apparels as a status symbol. Fancy leather accessories are also viewed as a style statement in the fashion industry. Designers and brands conduct events and fashion shows across the world. Through these events, they are able to showcase their new arrivals to a wide audience and are also able to attract more consumers.
One such event was organized by Forever Leather Fashion in Shanghai, China in September 2020. It displayed various leather items such as duffel bags, sneakers, boots, coats, and travel bags. Such events attract various leather designers, manufacturers and leather buyers from all over the world.
Leather Goods Industry in India
India is the second largest producer of footwear, fifth largest exporter of leather goods and second largest exporter of leather garments in the world. The leather industry in India handles the production of almost 3 billion square feet of leather. It has a vast domestic market and has great potential for growth in the export sector as well. It serves as one of the top ten foreign exchange earners for the nation and accounts for earnings through high exports and holding a noticeable place in the economy.
The main factor driving this growth is the availability of raw materials and labor force in abundance. It provides employment to more than 4 million people across the country. Majority of them come from the weaker sections of the society, belonging to economically and socially backward classes. They work in unorganized sectors such as stitching workshops, shoe assembling centers, small home-based production units, etc. Also, women have a 30% share in the workforce in the manufacturing of leather products. Most of them work in home-based units and stitch shoe uppers. More than half of this workforce is below the age of thirty-five, making the leather industry a youth-intensive sector.
About 9% of the world’s footwear production takes place in India, ranking second in the world. Indian footwear industries produce close to 2 billion units of footwear, in terms of volume.
The Indian Leather Industry is still in need of modernization and requires technological reforms. Around ninety percent leather businesses in India are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This sector has been identified as one of the focus sectors for the Make In India Campaign by the Government of India. This initiative will attract more investors in this sector.
Percentage share of leather products
Leather footwear- 40.36%
Footwear components- 5.38%
Leather garments- 8.03%
Leather goods- 25.63%
Saddlery and harness- 5.05%
Finished leather- 10.28%
Cities famous for leather industry in India
Kanpur is also called the leather city of the world. Jajmau or Jajesmow district of Kanpur is the main center for leather production in India. Some of the largest tanneries of leather are located here. The leather industry of Kanpur contributes a large share in the foreign exchange for the country, amounting to almost Rs 6000 crore. Also, it gives livelihood to almost 1 lakh people by generating various employment opportunities.
Chennai, Tamil Nadu is the biggest industrial hub in South India, contributing more than half of the country’s total leather exports. It has an advantage of being located on the Coromandel Coast of Bay of Bengal, which has enabled it to become South India’s economic, commercial and cultural center. CSIR-CLRI (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Central Leather Research Institute), is the world’s largest leather research institute in terms of research papers and patents. It was founded on 24 April 1948.
Ambur is a town located on the banks of Palar River in Tamil Nadu. It holds a significant place in India’s leather tanning industry, consisting of some of the largest and finest tanneries. It is also known as the Leather City of South India. Ambur city leads the export of various leather products.
This city is located on the banks of river Yamuna in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Apart from the 40% population of Agra, which mainly depends on agriculture, the rest is directly or indirectly dependent on the leather footwear industry. The craftsmanship and amazing quality of Agra’s leather footwear is famous all across the world.
Kolkata, also known as the City of Joy, is located on the banks of Hooghly river in the state of West Bengal. It is eastern India’s main commercial, cultural and educational center. It is one of the most important tanning centers in India, consisting of almost 500 tanneries. This is almost 22-25% of the country’s total.
Ranipet, also known as Ranipettai, is located on the banks of the Palar river in Tamil Nadu. It is the industrial center of the city of Vellore. This town houses almost 400 small and medium leather units.
Strengths of Indian Leather Sector
India has developed a strong and eco-friendly sustainable base for the process of tanning. Skilled and trained manpower of the country run the modernized production units. Training and educational institutes are provided with world-class facilities and infrastructure for supporting the leather industry and carrying out research and development on design and product. Various such institutes initiate design development projects which contribute immensely in the growth of this sector. Training centers also run various human resource development programs to improve productivity. Industries such as finishing auxiliaries and leather chemicals support the businesses to sustain themselves within the country. India also has the benefit of its strategic location in the Asian Continent where it can access the various world markets at ease.
Why are leather goods popular?
People all over the world prefer leather goods due to their innumerable qualities such as durability, dust resistance, breathability, crack-proof, fireproof, etc. Due to these inherent qualities, leather is a popular item among consumers. Moreover, we have witnessed a growing trend of using stylish leather items such as attractive handbags. This has influenced individuals to purchase more leather goods, leading to the growth of the leather market. Therefore, fashion driven countries have been the main market for the leather industry. Consumers here look for new and innovative leather product offerings so that they are in sync with the changing fashion trends. Therefore, there is a constant demand for new designs in leather fashion accessories.
With the support of the government, the leather industry is growing at a fast pace in some countries, including India. In India, if a company manufactures leather products through automatic routes, the government allows 100% FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).
Impact of Covid-19 on Leather Industry
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the production and sales of leather goods all over the world. Widespread global lockdown and reduction in the spending power of consumers has resulted in the disruption in the retail sales of every leather product. Various brands cancelled their orders, due to which tanneries came to a halt. Many factories were forced to shut and the industry saw a decline. Many businesses were not able to pay for their existing orders and thus workers were denied wages. This affected the livelihood of the four million people indulged in the process of leather manufacturing. The worst hit were the daily wage workers who had no other source of income.
The leather supply chain was also affected due to the disruptions in the export markets of the countries. India imports almost 35-55% key components of the industry, such as dyes, chemicals and adhesives from other countries such as China. The trade restrictions due to the pandemic halted the import of these essential materials and created a scarcity in the country. As a result, industrialists were forced to switch to other expensive sources.
The leather fashion industry has witnessed some drastic changes in recent years. Individuals all over the world are becoming more aware and conscious about their buying habits, including leather fashion consumers. They prefer to connect with brands which have a social commitment. Therefore, R.P. Comtrade Pvt. Ltd. focuses on reducing emission of pollutants and using eco-friendly raw materials for manufacturing of goods. It also takes responsibility to treat its employees fairly and provide them with adequate facilities. It focuses on manufacturing sustainable products which do not contain harmful chemicals and dyes and also meet high quality standards of the country.