In recent years, we have all become more aware of the environmental and human cost of our shopping habits. So how can artisanal leather help create a more sustainable future for fashion?
Here’s our quick guide to the Slow Fashion movement and how artisanal leather reduces your environmental footprint, whilst saving you money in the long run.
The dangers of fast fashion
If you’ve ever grumbled about your boots only lasting one winter, or your trouser stitching falling apart, then you’re probably feeling the impact of fast fashion.
The fast fashion manufacturing model has boomed over the past few decades – pressuring us to shop as often as possible. Fast fashion raids the catwalks for popular ideas and produces copy clothing extremely quickly, through low paid factory workers who are often working in poor conditions. The ‘trendy’ clothing then floods the high street and online. As consumers, we’re encouraged to buy lots of it (since it’s so cheap!) and to throw it out as soon as it falls apart, or when the new season’s looks arrive.
This creates a highly toxic system of over production and over consumption, which has made fashion one of the heaviest polluting industries. The manufacturing process consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels and freshwater, and roughly 350,000 tonnes of clothes end up in UK landfills each year (which altogether are worth about £140 million!).
What is slow fashion?
Slow fashion has emerged as a sustainable alternative. Items are produced in smaller batches to reduce waste, crafting a few key styles with locally sourced, high-quality materials. Products are made in fair and transparent working conditions, with a smaller environmental impact. The idea comes from Slow Food – which similarly emphasises local produce made in better conditions.
‘Slow’ may seem like yet another trend. But really, this is how we lived for thousands of years – before mass manufacturing and mass consumption became possible!
Ok, so how does this relate to artisanal leather?
At Walnut Tree Leather, our handcrafted leather goods are at the forefront of a more sustainable, slow fashion movement.
This starts with how the leather is tanned. Fast fashion relies on chrome tanned leather, which can be produced quickly and cheaply on a large scale – with highly toxic chemicals that damage the environment and workers health, especially in countries where the manufacturing costs are low and regulations are not in place. However, vegetable tanned leather (which we use!) is very much a slow fashion process. It uses local, plant-based tannins in a skilled process that takes several months. As a result, it creates durable leather with a fraction of the environmental effect.
Our sustainable, slow methods influence how each item is made. We source our vegetable tanned leather from a UK based tannery, which means we can ensure it has been made in fair working conditions. Sourcing local leather keeps our carbon footprint low, whilst supporting a tanning process that is vital to our UK heritage.
What makes artisanal leather a sustainable choice?
We are tackling the issue of fast fashion head on, by proudly crafting items that last and can be passed down the generations. We use leathercraft and hand stitching techniques that have endured for centuries (and we can assure you, it’s stronger than machine stitching!). This means that we can offer an heirloom guarantee. With one purchase, you are saving the costs (and frustration) of constantly replacing a mass-produced item. Let’s face it, wallets and belts get heavy use – but they are exactly the personal, timeless items that we should be able to rely on for years to come.
Our manufacturing methods are socially, as well as environmentally, responsible. When you buy one of our accessories, you know exactly who has made it (in good working conditions!), you know where the materials have come from, and that you are supporting the local economy. If you take a minute to glance around, how many items can you see that are so traceable? This is what makes our accessories special. They’re a simple, practical step towards a sustainable future.
Next time you need to replace your wallet, or buy gift that won’t be wasted, why not take a look at our range of artisanal leather accessories?
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