Synthetic leather and its use within the Footwear Industry.
The origin of leather dates back to the time when man’s own history is known, back in the times of the caverns with man in his most primitive species, There was a need to hunt animals and take almost all their parts to survive the inclement conditions.
From there animal skins were used to make clothing and footwear in an archaic way, but perhaps not so far from today’s reality.
Although leather is one of the most valued materials worldwide by different industrial sectors, for many the need arose, for different reasons, to create a material that was as similar as possible, but generated artificially, This is how today we cook Synthetic Leather, Semicuero, Faux Leather or Eco-leather.
Its history dates back to World War II Germany, when leather of animal origin became scarce, thus creating a new skin based on paper pulp, However the Germans realized that this material was not the most suitable at least for footwear-related matters, as it did not resist either the humidity or the daily tasks. Later in 1963 a substrate was created from polyurethane and polyester which was catalogued as the best for the manufacture of footwear and from there have been appearing on the market varieties of synthetic leather perfect for the shoe industry.
Reasons for using artificial leather in footwear.
At the time of making footwear natural leather is a benchmark of materials, however many brands have been almost forced to look for another raw material for the elaboration of their production lines. As part of these reasons we find:
"For many, synthetic leather represents a great alternative in footwear construction"
• Lower acquisition cost, which triggers lower end product prices. • Easier to make cuts and cooked than with natural skin. • Easy to obtain and purchase. • Less environmental impact when producing the material. This is a point to debate, many argue that while it is true there is no animal sacrifice or waste of water to tann natural skins, for some synthetic skins also require industrial processes and the use of environmentally friendly chemicals. • Offers an alternative for consumers who for religious and/or ideological reasons cannot wear genuine leather footwear. • Expands the range of options in terms of colors and textures for the design and manufacture of footwear.
Types of synthetic leather.
As already mentioned, different types of artificial leather have been created throughout the history of humanity, based on different products. The most used within fashion and footwear are the following:
Synthetic PU Polyurethane Leather.
It is one of the most similar to natural leather and environmentally friendly, as it is obtained through natural fibers without the intervention of chemicals harmful to nature.
It is widely used for footwear because of its porosity and characteristics similar to animal skin, but also offers a variety of colors and textures that are not obtained with natural leather.
Eco-leather or eco-leather are other names as it is known to this material attached to the conservation of the environment, its creation is given from renewable raw material, such as tree bark for example, in addition to plasticizing materials classified as ecologically sensitive. But, in spite of this, this PVC is not able to be biodegradable, representing a contaminant to the habitat.
For those who defend nature and every living being that lives in it, what is known today as vegan leather has been created. Around the world several people have dedicated themselves to this task and have achieved it with a variety of materials including fungi, recycled plastics, natural rubber, etc. Despite its innovative methodology many brands have used it for the creation of vegan footwear.
Although it is an artificial substrate are not few the benefits offered by synthetic leather for the manufacture of clothing and footwear; and despite not sharing some features with natural leather, if it can represent an excellent option for the Zapatera Industry, it all depends on your needs as a manufacturer.
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