Success for London Sustainability Conference

Success for London Sustainability Conference

The Leather & Sustainability in Retail Conference 2018 took place on 15th November in Westminster, London and attracted around 100 delegates, eager to find out more about upcoming challenges and opportunities relating to leather and alternative materials.

We were delighted to host delegates from a number of well-known UK and international brands, retailers and fashion houses as well as leather companies from the automotive sector and chemical formulators. Delegates predominantly travelled from the UK and Europe however some of our delegates travelled from as far as India and Brazil.

The day started with a presentation from Martin Ricker, Content Director of The Sauer Report and showcased the state of the global hide market, highlighting fluctuations in prices and demand, the environmental impact of alternative materials to leather and encouraging communication around sustainability between brands and their manufacturers and suppliers.

The Lead Sponsor Stahl headed-up the remaining presentations with ‘How Generation Z Students View Sustainability, Leather and the Footwear Market’. This thoughtful presentation delivered by Michael Costello, Director of Sustainability provided delegates with a unique insight into the views of what ‘sustainability’ is and what it means, as well as thoughts on what makes a sustainable consumer product. 

Next on the agenda was a presentation on biofrabicated material as an alternative to leather; a material developed and presented by Modern Meadow. Susan Schoder, Head of Business Development, gave an overview of how their company is aligning itself with top level sustainably goals and how their company has managed to develop its innovative product from cell to finished material.

Global retailer M&S enlightened delegates about its pathway to achieving a supply chain which uses more sustainable materials. Phil Townsend, Raw Materials Specialist, provided delegates with insight into M&S’s 10-year plan and highlighted key focus areas such as animal welfare, sustainable sourcing, and how M&S manage the impact that modern media has on consumer perceptions.

Robert Perkins, Group Managing Director at Hotter featured the importance of supply chain mapping in his presentation. The benefits of increasing traceability remained at the core of Robert’s presentation, as well as how the business can financially benefit from undertaking such an activity.

The affects of veganism on material choices is a hot topic in the leather sector and Peter Hughes, Sustainability Lead at Eurofins | BLC delivered a highly informative presentation on whether vegan alternatives to leather are sustainable. Delegates gained insight from a balanced set of facts as well as having common industry myth dispelled.

Chemical management is a growing area of concern for the whole supply chain. The ZDHC presentation by Frank Michel, Executive Director, highlighted innovations in chemical management that increase sustainability of production as well as reduce risk to consumers and labourers in the supply chain.

The final presentation of the day followed the chemical management theme, showcasing Chem-MAP; ZDHC approved chemical management systems for the entire supply chain. Delivered by Georgina Mawer, Chem-MAP Technical Manager at Eurofins | BLC, the presentation covered the importance of chemicals in the manufacturing of consumer products and how brands, retailers, manufacturers and chemical companies can actively develop their chemical management systems to reduce risk and increase confidence.

Lastly, a lively panel discussion took place with a focus on sustainable materials. The debate was followed by questions from the audience.

Overall the day was a success, with delegates remarking on how informative the content had been and how the event had changed some of their perceptions about the challenges faced by the leather industry:


“Before I came to this event, I was aware of the topics but not so much the detail. Now I feel better informed and more positive about the sector.” - delegate


“I think the conference was a worthwhile event. It has provided me with relevant content delivered by speakers with actual practical experience in industry.” - delegate

26 November 2018

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