The Role of Leather in the Fashion Industry: A Humble Beginning
- by Go-Uniq
Most of us know that leather has ancient roots in human history. From clothing, to footwear, to tarps that our ancestors used to keep the bitter cold out. Why, even musical instruments to this day carry that signature material. But did you know that leather was once used as wallpaper?
Leather as Wallpaper?
Once upon a time, leather actually adorned walls, instead of people and their clothes. More specifically, leather was used to create decorative tapestries and even insulation. Of course, back then, it was only something the wealthy could afford. It was often molded, gilded, painted, and decorated to reflect light within rooms. This would have been somewhere around the 19th century.
In those days, it was often called "gold leather" or "Cordovan leather", which was another way of describing horse-hide leather. In fact, wallpaper made of this material went well beyond just insulation and decoration. It was often seen as an investment, meant to be handed down to future generations as an inheritance.
Leather’s Rise to Prominence in Modern Fashion
While many leather products were still considered rather expensive in the 20th century, it saw a growing role in the military. While this isn’t something new, given that even Roman soldiers wore different forms of leather as part of their war ensemble, it is interesting to see where it ended up. In the modern military, leather was actually used to make fighter bomber jackets in the 1920s.
However, leather wasn’t considered "cool" or fashionable until the 1960s, when movie actors started glamourizing it. Actors like Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and, of course, Tom Cruise in Top Gun made leather a staple of the "bad boy" look, with their cinematic depictions.
Parallelly, in the 1980s, leather was essentially an extension of popular culture and the rock scene. Everyone from pop idols to legendary rock stars began toting leather clothing. This carried on well into the 90s and early 2000s. Nowadays, leather has cemented itself as a premium-quality, long-lasting fabric that many would consider timeless in look and use.
The Sustainability Debate
To say the least, public opinion on the leather and tanning industries is divided. On the one hand, there are those who are concerned about the impact of leather manufacturing and the concept of harvesting animal skins. However, leather is a by-product of the meat industry rather than a harvested product. These animals' hides will eventually end up in landfills, which is a waste when they could be turned into sustainable, long-lasting fabric. It also feeds into the ethos of buying better and therefore spending less, given leather’s long-lasting qualities.
While the debate will no doubt continue to boil over into future decades, you can rest assured that here at Deniva, we practice and believe in ethical and sustainable leather manufacturing. If you would like to know more about that, and also have a look at our unique collection of leather items, check out our website!