The suffering of “Japan leather” against “ethical fashion”[COLUMN]| FASHION | FASHION HEADLINE

The trend of “ethical” (= ethical), which originated from problems such as overproduction, waste loss, labor exploitation, and environmental pollution in fast fashion brands, has become fashion brand and consumer consciousness in Europe and the United States in the last few years. It has become firmly established as a new added value. In the 1990s, activists targeting high fashion brands became more active, and in 1991 Calvin Klein declared fur-free (animal fur abolition). Since then, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Versace, Stella McCartney and others have opposed and followed animal experiments.

The Kering Group, which Gucci declared far-free in the spring and summer of 2018, has declared that all brands under its umbrella, including Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, will be eliminated by the fall of 2022. In parallel with Fur Free from the Spring / Summer 2020 season, Prada completed the replacement of all virgin nylon products with recycled nylon in the fall of 2021 as part of its efforts towards carbon neutrality.

The booth of ALKeMe ATeLirR, which develops vegan leather exhibited at MIPEL held in Milan in February 2020.

This sustainable effort is showing signs of expanding into a fashion trend from fur-free to leather-free. When I interviewed “MIPEL” (international trade fair for bags, shoes, etc.) held in Milan in February 2020 just before the pandemic (May 2020 issue of this magazine), the theme of the exhibition was “sustainable” but vegan. Only the booths of some brands in Canada and the United States were proposing leather. Although there was momentum as a trend, leather-free social movements were not so apparent. However, in 2021, Hermes announced an item of vegan leather developed from mycelium, Barbary decided to abolish exotic leather (crocodile, snake, etc.), Volvo, Tesla, Audi etc. are leather-free as new luxury specification models. Since it has been launched, vegan leather is attracting attention as a trend of high fashion.

Leather craftsmen who are re-recognized as consumers and values ​​towards ethical

Japan leather, “LIVE.R MEGURO” tote bag that is particular about Made in Japan 31,900 yen (tax included)

“LIVE.R MEGURO”, which was born in Meguro, Tokyo in 2015 as an order shop that was particular about Japanese leather, is known for its tailored leather wear that conveys the high technical capabilities of Japanese tanners (leather processing manufacturers). .. We have also proposed elaborate items such as leather hoodies and cord lane leather jackets that are fake sweatshirts by printing and carving the surface, but for the past few seasons, the original height of Japanese processing technology has been proposed. The main items are items that take advantage of the lightness and softness of the materials shown. Developed materials mainly in collaboration with Tanner in Tatsuno, Hyogo. Create your own patterns and respond to customer requests for orders. Shoji Takenaga, an owner and designer who has learned techniques for tailoring and Japan denim brands since the 1990s, commented on the influence of vegan leather. “It is still difficult to use (vegan leather) for clothing because of the quality of the material. Japan’s high-end tanners are at a level that we can be proud of in the world, such as the preparation of raw leather and the response to environmental problems. I don’t think it would be a good idea to discuss the environmental issues of the process in the same line. “

Mr. Shoji Takenaga of LIVE.R MEGURO

In Japan, the culture itself has evolved from ethical ideas, so the techniques and products derived from natural materials are being reviewed as a new market with traditional crafts and the Mingei movement as “Japan-made”. Until the generalization of chrome tanning in the leather industry, tannin tanning was 100% in Europe in the 19th century, whereas in Japan it was oil tanned until the middle of the 20th century, and until recently it was a “white tanning” that did not use chemicals. The method of “was left. It developed from a unique ecological consideration to protect forests and rivers in small areas. In particular, Himeji’s white leather was introduced at the Paris Expo at the end of the 19th century, and was actively exported due to its toughness. Craftsmanship in processing is unique to each production area such as Hyogo such as Himeji and Tatsuno, Tokyo, Tochigi, Nagasaki, Gifu, etc. There are also many. The brand “Japan Made” presents its culture while the Western marketing methods that are rushing to ethical, sustainable, and vegan, and those technologies that Japan has built through its own traditions in an environment different from those of Europe and the United States are being driven away. There is.

Sentence / Tatsuya Noda: First Editor-in-Chief of Fashion Headline

* This article is a partial addition, correction, and photo addition of the one published in the July 2022 issue of “Monthly Store Architecture” (released on June 28).

Tatsuya Noda

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