Leather Industry: Everything You Should Know

Written by José Max Lin
Last updated
August 1, 2022

The leather industry is a global leader in the manufacturing industry. It has been for many years and will continue to be for many more. Leather products are used in various ways, including leather footwear, clothing, furniture, and automotive manufacturing. Leather is a reliable source for high-quality products needed in these industries.

As a result of the unprecedented supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, a decline in the global leather industry was expected across significant export markets, including China and India.

However, according to the Textile Exchange report 2021, around 1.4 billion hides and skins of animals were in global leather production in 2020. This means around one animal for every 5 people on the planet. In the same year, the global leather goods market was worth around $394.12 billion, and it is estimated to grow annually at a rate of 5.9% from 2021 to 2028.

Podcast: Leather Industry: Everything You Should Know

What is leather and where does it come from?

As a by-product of the meat industry, leather is a natural material derived from various animals' skin. The most common sources of leather are cows, pigs, and goats. The raw skins are processed to remove the hair and then treated with various chemicals to preserve it and make more durable finished leather.

animals skin leather

The history of leather production

Leather production has a long and storied history, dating back to the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. In those days, leather was a highly sought-after commodity, as it was used to make everything from clothing and armor to furniture and carriages.

Today, the global leather industry is still a leader in manufacturing for various sectors such as fashion and apparel, as leather is a strong and durable material for accessories like handbags, belts, and shoes.

How is leather made?

Leather is made from animal hides. These are cleaned and treated with a tanning agent to create the leather. The tanning agent can be either vegetable-based or chromium-based. After the leather is tanned, it is treated with various finishes to create different textures and colors.

leather industry tanning

Types of leather

Types of leather are generally determined by the tanning process used. Although a high percentage of manufacturers are still using chromium tanning, research is underway to improve the quality of animal raw hides and leather processing.

Vegetable-tanned leather is tanned using plant extracts, while chrome-tanned leather uses chromium sulfate. Other types of leather include alum-tanned leather, which is tanned with alum and salt, and protein-tanned leather, tanned with eggs, fish oil, or other protein-based substances.

Vegetable-tanned leather

Whether the raw material or the finished product in the leather sector, vegetable-tanned leather is the most common type of leather used in manufacturing. It is durable and has a natural look and feel.

Chrome-tanned leather

Chrome-tanned leather is also popular for its durability and resistance to stains and fading.

Alum-tanned leather

Alum-tanned leather is often used to produce high-quality goods, such as leather bags and shoes.

Protein-tanned leather

Protein-tanned leather is softer and more pliable than other types of leather, making it ideal for garments and other items that require a soft, pliable surface.

The leather tanners determine the type of leather and the color. Vegetable-tanned leather is usually a light brown or tan color, while chrome-tanned leather can be any color. Alum-tanned leather is often dyed before it is used in manufacturing, and protein-tanned leather can be left in its natural color or dyed.

Advantages of using leather in manufacturing

Leather has been used in manufacturing for centuries, and there are many reasons why it remains a leader in the industry. Some of the advantages of using leather in manufacturing include:

  • Leather is strong and durable, making it a good choice for products that need to withstand heavy use.
  • Leather is a natural material that is breathable and flexible, making it comfortable to wear.
  • Leather can be dyed in a wide range of colors, making it easy to match with other materials.
  • Leather is easy to clean and maintain, making it a low-maintenance option for products used frequently.
  • Leather has a classic look that never goes out of style.
leather color samples

These are just a few reasons leather is such a popular choice for manufacturing. Products made from leather are sure to last, and they will only get better with age. When you invest in a leather product, you can be confident that you are getting a high-quality item that will stand the test of time.

How to care for leather products

Leather products are popular among consumers for their luxurious look and feel. However, to ensure that your leather items last a long time, it is important to care for them properly.

Here are a few tips for taking care of your leather products:

  • Keep leather items away from direct sunlight, as the heat can damage them.
  • Avoid storing leather goods in humid areas, as this can cause them to mildew.
  • Clean leather products regularly with a soft cloth and a mild soap.

By following these simple tips, you can prolong the life of your leather products and keep them looking their best.

Leather industry trends

There are a few key trends that are driving the global leather industry currently:

The increased demand for ethical and sustainable products

Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact their purchases have on the environment, and they are looking for brands that share their values. As a result, many leather companies invest in sustainable practices, such as using vegetable-tanned leather or investing in renewable energy.

apple peel apple skin leather bag

The growing demand for luxury goods

As the global economy improves, more consumers are willing to invest in high-quality items. This includes leather goods, which are seen as both stylish and long-lasting.

luxury leather wallet purse

The growing trend toward customization

Consumers want unique products, and they are willing to pay more for personalized items. This has led to increased companies offering made-to-order or bespoke leather goods.

These trends are likely to continue shaping the leather industry in the years to come. Companies that can adapt and offer products that meet these demands will be well-positioned for success.


Leather has been used for centuries in various applications due to its durability and flexibility. It is still a leader in the manufacturing industry, as it offers several advantages over other materials. Leather industry trends are also moving towards more sustainable practices, which will benefit both the environment and the bottom line.Looking for a stylish and sustainable handbag manufacturer, look no further than Handbagio. Our leather handbags are made from premium materials and are ethically produced. We offer a variety of designs and colors to choose from, so you can find the perfect bag for your style. Plus, our bags are made to last, so you can enjoy them for years to come.

HANDBAGIO product specialist
José Max Lin
I am product specialist and content marketing specialist for Handbagio. If you want to wholesale vegan handbags or vegan related products, feel free to ask me any questions.
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Leather Industry: Everything You Should Know

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